Ahhh the London Guitar Show 2007, overcrowded, warm beer, shit food….Guitars….on show…. to try…??????
Where was Fender……?…..Gibsons display was hidden away on a tourbus via invitation only WTF? Lots of signs on guitars saying “Do Not Touch” “Achtung” and “Ovens this way” (that last bit was a joke, a sick one maybe but…).
Lets rewind back 20 years, your humble scribe is 17 working in a supermarket stacking shelves trying to shag a dental nurse called Donna and messing up his A Levels. His main axe is a plywood bodied Kramer Striker 300st complete with non locking Floyd Rose. He has no money save for his supermarket wages……
But by golly I used to go to the public days at the British Music Fair and play…..everything, because they wanted me to try everything. Ibanez, ESP’s that cost more than a months salary now….Kramers, Gibson’s Aria’s Yamaha’s etc etc. It was one big freakin sweetshop of Axe’s and the trade people were happy cos even though I was skint, they saw me as an investment, they knew one day I’d come back to them and buy some of those lovely guitars and amps and guess what ….I did.
But now in a climate where guitar sales are bigger than ever, the big guitar companies are too bloody measily to write some off as demo models and win over the british public.
Back in the 80′s Peter Cook’s used to sell all the BMF ex demo stock at knock down prices the week after the show.
Some stands got it right. Marshall had everything on display and gave out goodiebags and stickers and posters and allsorts. I saw Victoria Marshall manning the stands and that bloke who does the factory tour on the Merch stand. God bless em, I remember Jim Marshall signing me a poster 20 years ago and you know, if I add it up, I’ve probably spent £5 grand with them over the years. They had my brand loyalty sorted before I could even afford to buy one, all for the price of a few posters and the fact I could twiddle the knobs of a Jubilee 2558.
But shame on you Fender,shame on you Gibson. You are starting to come across like nasty corporate types and for me that will mean that I’ll be less likely to by new guitars in future and just seek out Fender Japan grey imports and used Gibsons, or even maybe a PRS.
To be fair PRS got it right too. You could play most of the guitars and they only stopped you touching stuff they’d sold or the really silly priced items, which is fair enough. The Singlecut trem Satin I played was mighty resonant and quite yummy. The smaller firms also let you get hands on with their kit which was ironic as I bet the likes of Martyn Booth’s margins are a lot smaller than Gibson and the like.
But I’m not convinced by the London Guitar Show and less convinced by the antics of the big two. Fender were on their knees in 1985 because they forgot who the customer was….it could easily happen again. Take heed.