This year the London Bass Guitar Show had a different look, the main exhibitor area having been divided into smaller areas through floor-to-ceiling partitions. The new layout had the function of dampening the noise and gathering together similar exhibitors, creating, for instance, an Amplification Zone and an Instrument Zone. As always, in addition to the exhibitor areas, there was a packed schedule of performances and masterclasses, a corner with microphones and seats where we could enjoy talks and demos by highly esteemed luthiers, and a bass setup room. By popular demand, Scott’s Bass Lessons returned with its star guests and their very successful workshops.
This first part of my blog will try to show the new general look, and focus on what was going on in the areas not dedicated to exhibitors: on stage, in the luthier zone, and backstage. We’ll deal with each exhibitor booth in some detail in Part 2.
Despite the heavy snow preventing travel in much of the country on the Saturday, the show was very well attended. For many of us, The London Bass Guitar Show is an unmissable annual appointment not just with GAS-inducing gear and amazing stars and educators, but also with many bass-playing friends and acquaintances we only rarely see in person. Given the dreadful state of many main roads throughout the country and the disruption in public transport, I was genuinely surprised to see how full all the rooms were only a few minutes after the doors opened to the general public on the Saturday.
Now, with me being so little, and panoramic shots being difficult to take this year due to the new layout, there would be no point in posting images of people’s backs taken at peak times. The photos below – and in fact most of the photos in this blog – were taken before the doors opened to the general public.
The entrance hall
The lift doors and the cloakroom were behind these stands.
The entrance hall again, now looking towards the door to what used to be the Gear Hall. The customary long table dedicated the European Guitar Builders was again there. (More, much more on the EGB to follow in Part 2!)
The Exhibitors’ area
The two doors led to two separate rooms, one dedicated to amplification, the other to basses and accessories.
The Luthiers’ Room
This area of the show was by far my favourite this year. As a rather technically-minded person, I am never tired of listening to highly respected luthiers explaining not just the physics, acoustics and electronics involved in creating and playing a bass, and the different nature and uses of tone woods, but also the processes that led to the luthiers’ individual choices in designing and building their instruments.
The list included talks by Sheldon Dingwall of Dingwall Guitars with Christian Sturgess, Alan Cringean of AC Guitars and Colin Cunningham, Martin Sims and Nick Smith of SimS Pickups, and Rob Erlick of Elrick Bass Guitars. Chris May of Overwater Basses was mentioned in the programme but was unfortunately blocked in Cumbria by the snow, and couldn’t attend.
Sheldon Dingwall was joined by Christian Sturgess of Brutai and his beautiful red 5-string Combustion for a talk about the best way to do a setup on Saturday, and tone woods on Sunday.
Christian played along to his band’s songs to show us many different playing styles on his Combustion.
Despite the background noise, the footage below is thoroughly fascinating.
Tone woods – do they make a difference?
Now watch the company’s proper youtube series: Dingwall Guitars Setup Series – playlist
Martin Sims and Nick Smith
Yes, those are highly covetable Enfield basses!
Watch the guys demo the Super Quad and explain how it influences tone.
Have a look at Martin Sims’ Youtube channel too.
I wish I could show my footage of Rob Erlick debunking some bass-building myths in a thoroughly fascinating way, but the background noise during his talk was so loud that my recordings are virtually inaudible and, regrettably, unpublishable. Such a shame. Have a look at his company’s Youtube instead – some good stuff there. Erlick Bass Guitars on Youtube
Despite my efforts, I wasn’t able to attend Alan Cringean’s talk – too many events to juggle! I’ll make sure to make his seminar a priority if he’s back next year. And while I’m at it, I’ll also make sure to have a look at the Ultimate Bass Setup room, which was another thing I missed this year. Judging by the crowds I saw leaving the room at the end of each seminar, it must have been very popular.
Third thing not to miss next time: the Scott’s Bass Lessons room, where seminars are always oversubscribed and it feels both rude and awkward to enter after the doors are closed.
Performances and Masterclasses
Mini-performances and interviews were happening at some booths too.
Lorenzo Feliciati talks to fans in the Amp Zone
Peter Hook and his Shergold Marathon
With BGM editor Joel McIver
Mo Foster, laughing at someone’s t-shirt.
Two special basses
I followed the progress of the signatures on this Musicman SUB throughout the weekend.
The title of this section should probably have been ‘five special basses’, considering that the following is not one but actually four basses! This is Roland Kaschube of Bass Professor not just lifting the instrument but actually playing it, at the Eich stand.
I guess it doesn’t get much lighter even when you take off the strings…
More gear to follow in Part 2 – the booths. Stay tuned!