5 Highlights from the 2017 Birmingham Guitar Show

The Birmingham Guitar Show is an annual event that draws thousands of guitarists from across the UK to ogle over gear. It features everything from industry heavyweights—like Fender and PRS—right through to dozens of talented independent luthiers and builders, each with their own unique style.

We had an incredible time meeting hundreds of people and spreading the word about Reverb. But we did also find some time to do some ogling ourselves, and here's what caught our eye this year.

The Ormsby Custom Copper Top Hypemachine

In a show not short on exotic custom builds, this Ormsby was drawing enough attention to cause crowd flow issues. The copper top is such a show stopper that it takes you a while to realise the fingerboard is an absolute work of art too.

Sadly (for us) it was a loaner from a very happy customer, so we couldn’t play it. But we sure did make some enquires. Ormsby Guitars hand-make the Hypemachine in runs that take nine months. While you’re waiting for your guitar to arrive, you can join in regular online events with other customers to run through specs/options and keep up to date on the construction of your guitar.

Ormsby Custom Copper Top Hypemachine

Earthquaker Devices Finally Making Their Mark in the UK

The Audio Distribution Group booth was something of a candy shop for pedal-geek noisemakers. On display were Earthquaker Devices, Neunaber, Caroline, Emma Electronic, and a load more.

Stefan from ThePedalZone talked us through some of his favourite pedals on the Earthquaker Devices pedalboard. After some obligatory noise from the Bit Commander (sawtooth lead licks with an octave above, anyone?), we turned to ambience and tried to get the lushest combination of pedals we could manage. The Afterneath and Dispatch Master both made their way onto our shopping list as a result.

It’s incredible that, until recently, Earthquaker was barely known in the UK. Thanks to Stefan and ADG, they’re getting their props now.

Earthquaker Devices Pedals

The Bassics BPA-1 Bass Preamp

We got to hear rather a lot of the Bassics BPA-1 being demoed throughout the day since their booth was right next to ours. What a pleasure it was spending some time talking with the designer Malcolm Toft.

He talked us through the BPA-1, describing it as a workhorse pre-amp for bassists with studio quality EQ and compression. We love the ability to footswitch individual bands on the EQ, putting a whole range of subtle (or not so subtle) tonal options right at your feet.

The term “studio quality” gets thrown around a lot, but Malcolm is uniquely qualified to use it: he spent time engineering for The Beatles, Dave Bowie, T-Rex, and James Taylor before he started building consoles for Trident Studios.

Bassics BPA-1 Bass Preamp

Stone Wolf Guitars

Stone Wolf Guitars specialise in a building technique that takes a beautiful and oddly shaped chunk of wood and encases it in a resin that’s shaped to the body, rather than carving it down into a shape.

It’s kind of like those weird perspex guitars but actually cool, and a damned sight easier on the eyes. One of the most impressive things about Stone Wolf Guitars is the price. Regardless of such a specialised and labour-intensive process, the pricing is on a par with any other high quality custom model, and they look seriously badass.

Stone Wolf Guitars

Ernie Ball "Mr. Horsepower" Nigel Tufnel Signature

We’ve all seen this crazy monstrosity in photos but it was something to behold up close. Resplendent with absolutely all of the nonsense you’d expect from Spinal Tap's Godfather of "one louder": there are four humbuckers, a Floyd Rose trem with a shifter for the arm, and a fully functioning tachometer.

The level of detail is incredible. Even the pickup selector switches are "hot fuel proof" and the pickup "on" lights are patterned on what you’d see at a drag strip. While it looks completely crazy, this guitar is fully functioning in every way (apart from the exhausts, obviously). With only 25 made and a five-figure value at auction, they wouldn’t actually let us play it. Shame.

Ernie Ball "Mr. Horsepower" Nigel Tufnel Signature

There was, of course, much more great stuff at the show than we have room to mention here. For more information on new product releases, gear history and tips, check back in with Reverb News each week.

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