I made what now seems to be becoming an annual pilgrimage to the Olympia Conference Centre last weekend to the LAGS.
The show was similar to last year with many of the main players even on exactly the same stands. Taylor, Yamaha, Martin, Lowden all there along with big distributors like JHS showing off the latest and greatest models.
Highlights - Yamaha, the new LL/LS range is stunning. I played a couple but the LS16 I tried was totally gorgeous, a good show offer on price made me struggle to hand it back and walk away frankly but I can't justify another guitar expense like that really. Faith impressed me again this year if not more so than last, work with Patrick Eggle as designer they have a great range. I tried several models and all impressed, from the naked parlour, mahogany topped auditorium sized cutaway model, all sounded and felt good. I was most impressed with their High Gloss Parlour model though that was really nice.
Auden were another company that impressed. I tried a couple of models out which impressed a mahogany topped parlour and a model with a thinner body designed for use in a rock band setting - that did seem to gut through the hubbub of a guitar show well so I think it would work well in that setting.
The biggest highlight of the day was attending the Jon Gomm masterclass. Jon is just an unbelievable player. He took some time out to explain some of the techniques he uses particularly around his two handed technique and talking about doing something with melody, rhythm and bass. He joked his pet hate being youtube videos he sees with people playing an "irritating" motif with the left hand over a boring right hand bass line. He graciously answered questions about how he amplifies and how it trains his hands - hours of endless scale and chromatic patterns which he wondered why others didn't do... because Jon it is bloody hard work that's why most of us just give and and play a tune! Also seeing Darren Hodge play at the cafe whilst waiting for the masterclass was great - really impressive player.
Accompanying the show was "Electric Live" on the floor beneath, which whilst a bigger floor was less densely populated with stands. And sadly people, the LAGS floor was crammed whilst the electric one was more empty when I walked around. Got to try a Fret King John Etheridge model, not plugged in sadly but felt nice, I'd love a nice semi and this ticks the boxes, although I wasn't too impressed with the nut on the model I tried, it was ok but the slots way too deep. Also played an Ibanez Artist which was a stonking guitar. That was via a Laney Ironheart amp which was super impressive too.
Things that didn't impress so much... The level of noise as ever at one of these events makes it so difficult to judge anything really. The vol of some of the demos in the electric hall in particular given it was quiet empty meant they carried way too far... yes Music Man I'm talking about your Devil Duel thing - fun but it did drown out the Yamaha stand where I was trying to hear a Pacifia I was trying out! Having to pay extra for the masterclasses this year meant I limited myself to only one. Before they were first come first served on the day and free. I'd prefer that again so I could see more of them. A couple of guitars were a little let down ... in particular I tried a Tanglewood parlour, they get good press Tanglewood but I wasn't impressed it was flat and bland in comparison to the Faith's I tried. Probably just one persons sugar and all that but I picked it up expecting to be impressed and I sadly wasn't.