The Great American Guitar Show – Valley Forge PA, Day 2

After a satisfying dinner at the Iron Hill Brewery in Phoenixville — which turned out to be a great non-mall dining hotspot — and some much needed rest, we were back at it on Sunday. The crowds on Sunday appeared to be just as good as the day before, with several repeat visitors. The Big Sale never materialized that day, but we were still turning people on to the ValveTrain amplifiers, JHS effects, and taking a couple G&L and Godin orders.

With it’s great tone and feel even at low volumes, the ValveTrain Trenton continued to be the most plugged into item in the booth. Many discovered that the amplifier was so perfectly voiced that flipping the “Raw” switch (which bypasses the tone stack) was the hot ticket. While the Blackface sound is the more often considered to be the Holy Grail of Fender sound, the warmer, bouncy, grainy sound of the Trenton made several Tweed converts.

However, for those looking for more punch and headroom, the Bennington Reverb had several fans in its corner. Louder and glassy with a faster attack, the Bennington was heralded by several experienced players as nailing the Best of Blackface. And will several Blackface amps on the floor that day, this was easy to verify.

The pedal that came between the guitar and amplifier most often was the JHS Charlie Brown. Honorable mention goes to the JHS Morning Glory but that sold so fast most people never heard it (note to self; bring more). With lower output pickups, the Charlie Brown elicited great on-the-edge breakup that just screamed Ronnie Earl or SRV. With a G&L ASAT or Godin Icon meatier distortions were available, but in either case they were articulate, natural and transparent. For this generally Blues/R&B oriented crowed, the combination of the Charlie Brown with the higher headroom Bennington was that “sound in your head” of grind, sweat and sparkle all at once.

The Great American Guitar show will visit the Philly area again next summer, and our plans are to stuff the Minivan to the gills again and make the trek down from Massachusetts. Where else can you get a ’55 Gold Top and a Felix the Cat Guitar all under one roof?


The Great American Guitar Show – Valley Forge PA, Day 1

We’re down here on the outskirts of Philadelphia for our first Great American Guitar Show in Valley Forge, PA. We came down Friday during the day in order to unload and get set up for the show on Saturday and Sunday.

While we have no way of actually knowing, there have got to be at least a couple thousand guitars here if not more. It’s surprising how much vintage stuff is on hand: Dozens of 50’s Les Pauls, 50’s and 60’s Strats, 50’s Teles, and enough vintage Les Paul Jr’s to make any Keith Urban fan jump for joy. I’m kind of LP Jr. Double Cutaway freak, and for between $4K and $9K I can have my pick of at least a dozen. The topper is a maple top burst 1960 Les Paul for $175K. Hmmm, house or guitar, house or guitar.

Action at the UpFront Guitars booth was pretty good, with a lot of people drawn to the Godin Icons, No-Top ASAT Special, and the ASAT Honeyburst Classic S. The Emerson pre-wired control assemblies were a popular item too, and of the pedals JHS drew the most attention. Our Clear Blue ASAT HB left the building, and I’ll eat my hat if somebody does not walk out with an Icon tomorrow.

Being a guitar show, most of the attention was focused on guitars, but the updated ValveTrain Trenton and Bennington amplifiers received many complements. The new Trenton with its larger cabinet, improved front end and tube rectifier was just stunning. Warm, sweet, with a nice bounce to each note, it was a real honey. It effortlessly developed great tone at low volumes, while the higher headroom Deluxe-inspired Bennington wanted to be opened up a little more than show decorum would permit. We’ll be taking a video on Sunday with the Trenton and our Angry Angus Tele. Michael from Cliff’s Guitars (Wilmington DE) is going to help us with the demo, as frankly after hearing him play we realized we should stick to selling.

Speaking of players, Joe Bonnamassa was also seen walking around the show, possibly looking for something to add to his already extensive collection.

If you are serious about guitars, and especially if you dig the vintage stuff, the Great American Guitar Show is a must-do.

Welcome to UpFront Guitars

Welcome to UpFront Guitars! This blog is will be dedicated to the products we carry, how to get the most out of your gear, and the interesting people that we meet along the way. Music is a journey, and while good equipment is important, so is sharing the gift of music with your friends, performing, jamming, and expressing yourself. Since UpFront guitars is a business, we are naturally interested in selling high quality musical gear. But most of all we want people to find products that inspire them and truly enhance their enjoyment of music. So whether you are out there gigging every Saturday night, or just jamming with a couple friends, we’re here to help.

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