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?