Bristol Guitar Show 2017: Photos and Highlights

Last week, we published an article detailing the five things to get excited about in anticipation of Bristol’s Guitar Show this year. Now, in the wake of the show, we wanted to provide those who missed out a little recap of the highlights.

The new venue for this year’s show was surely a pretty space, but you’re barely able to take it in before being thrust into the action. Walking through the large doors, you find yourself immediately in amongst the stands. And one of the very first items on display is a stunning 1959 Gibson ES–335 TD previously owned by Joe Satriani.

A highlight of the show - A Gibson ES-335 TD previously owned by Joe Satriani

Despite the exciting few rows of vintage gear at the start the show, Bristol was no match for a genuine vintage expo. But that’s ok because it did instead carve a niche for custom builders who normally have their thunder stolen at other shows by an abundance of vintage gear or mass market brands with big budget stands.

Wunnadem Guitars have been getting people talking with their metal necked guitars

The excitement in the air was palpable, as builders buzzed about their new ideas, designs, and approaches. Everything was discussed, from cigar box guitars to upcycled guitars to aggressively scalloped metal necks! It was a timely reminder that there is still a healthy creative and entrepreneurial spirit alive in the UK guitar scene.

Chickenbone John’s Cigar box guitars

That’s not to say that vintage guitars were completely off the radar. There was a modest collection of vintage gear with Modern Guitar’s range of highly sought after effects units and Atoyboy Guitars showing off some beautiful ‘50s Fender Strats and Telecasters, as well as some more eclectic Gibsons including the aforementioned ES–335 TD.

Modern Guitars had a spread of sought after vintage effects pedals including a pair of Colorsounds and a WEM Copycat

Off of the show floor tucked in a dedicated performance room, fingerstyle virtuoso and Guitar Techniques contributor Stuart Ryan captivated a standing–room–only audience, playing a variety of pieces to the sound of dozens of jaws hitting the floor. His workshop was one of the highlights of the event.

Bear Guitars were one of the many small builders on display

The dedicated isolated performance spaces in the venue — one for live performances and workshops and another for live demos from EHX — meant less noise on the show floor itself, which severely contrasts to an event like the Birmingham Show, for example. It did also take a bit of rock and roll — and life — out of the show. When I did plug into an amp, I suddenly felt rather self–conscious performing to the entire show floor.


Overall, the Bristol Show was intimate and charming and will be worth a visit next year if the drive isn’t too long. I do hope for future events that they continue eschewing bigger brands in favour of supporting smaller builders. If they do, there’s real potential for the Bristol Show to carve an interesting niche for itself within European gear shows.

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