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Montreal Guitar Show

The crowd at the 2008 Montreal Guitar Show

What instantly separates the Montreal Guitar Show from all other guitar shows is the absence of any corporate logos during the six-string summit north of the border. No Fender or Gibson or Yamaha lettering on any headstocks, no promotional posters or slick point-of-purchase displays. Instead, this annual showcase is for individual artisans who craft unique handmade guitars and deal in one-on-one relationships with their customers. No factories, no automation, no mass production; it’s strictly a purist hang. As luthier Ervin Somogyi puts it, “Factories make guitars for a mass market, luthiers make instruments for individuals. To compare them is analogous to comparing a painting with a refrigerator or toaster … or a custom-made suit to one bought off the rack.”

The second edition of the best-run guitar show in North America, held in conjunction with the Montreal Jazz Festival, took place June 27-29. For those three days, guitar enthusiasts could (for a mere $10 admission charge) enter the Grand Salon of the Hyatt Regency, gaze upon the handsome handmade objects and, with a few polite inquiries to the luthiers, actually play them-either in the open space or in any number of soundproof booths located throughout the exhibition hall for more private inspection of the goods. For guitar enthusiasts, it was a quintessential kid-in-a-candy-store scenario.

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