Equal parts guitar show and live music fest, the Dallas International Guitar Festival hit its 35th season this year. The event is way different from NAMM or Germany’s Musikmesse, because unlike these high-profile music industry gatherings, the Dallas show is aimed specifically at collectors and players, as well as anyone else who would rather spend their weekend looking at old guitars and catching some live music than, say cleaning out the garage or trimming the shrubs. And with players like George Lynch, Johnny Hiland, Rick Derringer, Reeves Gabrels, Bugs Henderson, Paul Smith, and many others that were scheduled throughout last weekend’s show, the “festival” part definitely made the event worth attending.
But a major draw of the show of course, is the huge amount of guitars, amps, parts, and just plain weird old junk that's available there. Walking down the aisles and seeing so many fine old Gibson, Gretsch, Martin, Rickenbacker, and other prized acoustic and electric instruments is an amazing thing. The high prices on many of the guitars (like $60,000 for a sunburst ’59 Gibson ES-335) would seem like a deal breaker in this economy, but it’s pretty cool nevertheless to be able to check out something like Eric Johnson’s ex-number-one Strat—the one he used on Tones—which was just sitting there on a stand at the dealer’s booth. And you could take it home for a cool $37k!
This year, the addition of Heritage Auctions, added a new wrinkle to the business of buying and selling vintage instruments. Running continuously on Friday and Saturday (and online too), the auction put a huge number of guitars into the hands of buyers at the show and elsewhere. It’s unclear how much impact the auction had on sales for dealers on the floor, but suffice to say there was still a ton of guitars available at the close of the event on Sunday.
I hope that GP will continue to sponsor the Dallas International Music Festival, and I would highly recommend that anyone who loves guitars and live music put this event on their calendar for next year. —Art Thompson
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