The Dallas International Guitar Festival

July 7, 2011

imgCheck out this 1960 Bartell 6/12 double-neck, which was made by Paul Barth, one of the key figures in early Rickenbacker history.

THE DALLAS INTERNATIONAL GUITAR FESTIVAL HIT ITS 35TH season this year. Equal parts guitar show and live music fest, the event that took place last April 15-17 at the Dallas Market Hall is very different from the high-profile music industry gatherings like NAMM or Germany’s Musikmesse. The Dallas show is a mecca for collectors, players, and music fans who come to scope out old guitars and see live performances—such as the ones this year by Anson Funderburgh, George Lynch, Greg Martin, Johnny Hiland, Redd Volkaert, Rick Derringer, Reeves Gabrels, Bugs Henderson, Paul Smith, and many others.

A major draw of the Dallas International Guitar Festival is, of course, the incredible amount of guitars, amps, parts, and just plain weird old junk that’s available for sale or trade. 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 in a dealer’s booth.

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 simultaneously online as well), 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 were still a ton of guitars available at the close of the event on Sunday.

If you love live music and vintage guitars you’ll want to put the Dallas International Music Festival on your calendar next year. In the meantime, here are some photos from this year’s show.

imgReeves Gabrels & His Imaginary Friends played a kickass set at the Dallas show. The former Bowie guitarist did some wild stuff on his new trem-equipped Reverend signature model.

imgDig this near-mint-condition 1951 Fender Esquire “blackguard.”

imgA Bigsby-equipped Les Paul ’burst from 1960.

imgEric Johnson’s 1957 Stratocaster—the very one that graced our September 2005 cover—was on sale for a cool 37.9 grand!

imgThis 1956 Gibson ES-350T once belonged to Eric Clapton.

imgKay and Silvertone archtops from the early 1960s.

imgCustom Bull Head guitar from Brent’s “House of Heads.” The eyes light up and the nostrils supposedly emit clouds of smoke. How Texas is that?!

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