Spring is here, which means the 5th Annual NY Guitar Expo is just around the corner.  The show returns to the Freeport Recreation Center this April 23rd and 24th.  We had the opportunity to speak with the expo’s founder, Rich Johnson, about what gearheads can expect at one of the fastest-growing guitar shows in the country.

The 5th Annual NY Guitar Show is coming up, care to refresh our readers on how the NY Guitar Show came to life?

Wow…five years already, I can’t believe it. I’ve been in the fishing & boating industry since 1993, but have been weaning myself out of it gradually as this NY Guitar Expo gets larger. After leaving an associate editor position of what was at the time (95’) a major fishing publication, I started my own educational radio & television fishing programs here in the northeast concentrating on Long Island/NY/NJ & CT.

As with Gbase, who was perspicacious enough to see the growth of the electronic media possibilities, so did The Fishing Line and today Gbase is the leader in on line guitar networking and I like to think TFL has done the same in the fishing industry. I have been playing guitar since the mid 70’s and started the collecting side of things 15-20 years or so ago.

I was exhibiting at all the major fishing and boating shows and expos and sponsoring some of them as well and at the same time tired of driving great distances to see a guitar show. Why was there not a quality guitar show in the NY Metro area??

Why not combine my experience as a sponsor of some of these fishing and boat expos with my exhibiting experience at these same shows and  my love of music, guitars and collecting? I figured it couldn’t be that hard right??

So I did in 2012 with the birth of the NY Guitar Show. We started with 27 vendors and 31 booths at a small church gym in Merrick Long. Ironic really since the last great NY shows were in the basement of the church in lower Manhattan remember? Since 2012 we have moved into 10,000 square feet of space in the Freeport Rec Center and now have 60 something vendors doing 90 booths.

What can guitar aficionados expect at the show this year? 

Well as in other years, we are offering 10,000 square feet of guitars, gear and accessories to cover just about everybody’s needs. This show is not packed with vintage dealers. We have a select few top shelf vintage dealers, but we want a well-rounded show. We want everybody who walks through the door to be able to participate in same way. Whether they buy a $300 Fender Squire, a guitar strap, a T shirt, a pedal or a vintage guitar or amp, we have something for everybody.

We do have quite a few new exhibitors this time around and quite a few “out of staters” will be joining us on April 23 & 24 at the Freeport Rec Center. Goat Peak Strings of Easthampton, MA, a vintage guitar store, will come on board as will Dave Hart Vintage Instruments of Boston, MA and Veebeck Custom Guitars of CT. New local talent consists of Franco Custom Steampunk Guitars of Long Island City and Analog Alien Pedals from Long Island have signed up for this year as have several other new exhibitors. Even some home repair companies have seen the value of the NY Guitar Show and have asked to climb aboard this train.

Will there be any special performances?

No performances. We don’t believe in this aspect of the guitar show culture or scene across the country. Some guitar shows have become guitar festivals and since music takes place outdoors, dealers and sales inside suffer as does the attendance.

When I asked dealers back in 2012 when I started this show, if they wanted music they all emphatically answered NO! It takes away from the wheeling and dealing attendees & dealers can participate in. Many folks at these other guitar shows/festivals stay outside with the music and inside attendance is on the decline. We are proud of the attendance we bring to the show and it continues to grow each year!

We at the NY Guitar Show want our dealers and the attendees to make money and buy, trade and sell gear and that can only happen when people are focused and not distracted by outside influences such as musical events. We welcome attendees to bring any gear they want to barter, trade or sell to the exhibitors or to each other inside the hall. However, parking lot transactions are NOT permitted under any circumstance and we have heavy security in the parking lots to maintain this policy. 

 Taylor_214ceWill there be any giveaways or contests?

Yes, as always we will be giving away a guitar to a lucky attendee just for taking 30 seconds to fill out a 10 question survey questionnaire. This year our Silver Sponsor,Taylor Guitars, is giving away a brand new 214ce acoustic guitar. This beauty is a $1,300 value and any visitor to the NY Guitar Show would be proud to have this baby.

We are so thankful that Taylor Guitars has been so supportive of us here at the NY Guitar Show from day one. They are a big part of our show and will have multiple spaces in the Lobby so people can have peace and quiet to play Taylor’s beautifully and masterfully crafted line of guitars.

Will there be any seminars?

At this time we are still not sure yet. We have been asked by a few attendees each year if we’ll start them or not, but the demand for them has not been heavy enough that we need the extra space to hold them. Some shows around the country do them but most don’t. We are still on the fence on them but will add that question to the survey sheet this time around.

Have you noticed any new trends as far as what collectors are looking for?

Yes actually I have, but as always I defer to my experts, the exhibitors at our shows. I personally have found 50’s Les Paul conversions have been moving some and are always in demand IF you can find them. I happen to have three of them. With the price of 50’s Les Paul’s still way out of reach of most, a converted Les Paul from say 52’ to 57’ or 59’ specs can give the player a Dickey Betts goldtop at $20-$25k rather than $85k…that’s a big savings. The wood is the same quality and year build, even older actually; the parts are 50’s LP parts and the tone magnificent! A truly great option of you really wants 50’s tone and playability. On some of these guitars, the oil that comes off the Brazilian rosewood is like the oil of a high quality pizza…smooth and silky olive oil. It is truly amazing…just pure smoothness and playability.

On other fronts, Alex from Goat Peak Strings says in his opinion collectors are looking for “blue chip” instruments such as Martin acoustics, classic Gibson’s, both acoustic and electric, all from before 1968. Even 60’s Fender Jazzmasters and Jaguars are hot. However the marginal guitars that went up in the “vintage boom” such as Silvertone, Supro,  Harmony and Godzilla guitars have all gone flat.

John DeSilva of My Generation Guitars says “I’m starting to see a lot of rare, Japanese made guitars being bought up and the prices are rising.”  John adds guitars that were made as “Limited Editions,” or Anniversary Models and Special Runs made by the big makers are falling out of fashion.

Meanwhile Jim Baker of JR Baker Guitar Restoration says he’s seen that just as resto-mods for cars and fine repaired / conserved furniture, the restored guitars that can be modified into great playing instruments have been a big part of the market recovery.

Who are your sponsors?

We really do have some terrific sponsors this year. Where would we be without the aforementioned Taylor Guitars, our Silver Sponsor this year and provider of this year’s Grand Guitar Giveaway. Taylor Guitars always steps up and David Kaye deserves a lot of credit for making that happen. There’s not much else to say about the high quality, tone and customer service Taylor Guitars provides musicians around the world!

Supro_AmpsWill Supro be there?

Supro Amps is on board again and will have their own “Amp Room” in Room 102 just off the lobby of the NY Guitar Show. This amp room has become quite the hit and now other amp companies are trying to get their hands on that room so we’ll see what happens for 2017. In the Supro / Pigtronix amp & pedal room, guitarists can crank up as loud as they want through a full line of Supro Amps, and run through the wide section of Pigtronix pedals as well.

Guitar Center is a partner of ours and allows us to place a NY Guitar Show poster in every one of their stores from Boston to Philly and we believe this is a big part of our success in drawing attendees to our NY Guitar Show. We thank them for that.

Premiere Guitar is one of our Media Partners and look for our NY Guitar Show banner on their web site if you are in NY, Long island, NJ, CT & PA. As they always do, they are shipping hundreds of Premier Guitar magazines to give away free on the  way in the door at this year’s show

Yes and finally where could we be without Gbase. Thanks again Gbase for the interview opportunity and for sponsoring us five (5) years running in 2016. We truly enjoy and cherish our media and web partnership with  you folk and you couldn’t have been nicer right form the inception of our fist NY Guitar Show back in 2012 and I do thank you very much for that.

Times, Dates & Place?

Admission is $10 adults and $8 for kids under 14 and free if under 5 when accompanied with an adult. The dates are Saturday and Sunday April 23 & 24. Saturday’s hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. info at www.nyguitarexpo.com.

The NY Guitar Show & Expo is located at the Freeport Recreation Center, 130 E. Merrick Rd. in Freeport Long Island. There is a ton of FREE parking, a short 10 minute walk from the Freeport Long Island Railroad Station (Babylon branch) so “city folks” can come to the country via the LIRR from Penn, Grand Central or PATH. The Freeport Recreation Center is easily accessible by car off Exit M9 (W) off the Meadowbrook Parkway.

We’ll have the annual program guide again to give away free, with articles on a variety of guitar and amp topics, the listings of exhibitors with correlating booth numbers and other tidbits in there as well.

We welcome everybody to search their attics and basements to turn their unwanted or unused gear into cash at the guitar expo. More info is available at ourwww.NYguitarexpo.com site and we’ve got Facebook and Twitter as well.

Where can people find out more?

Our web site is www.nyguitarexpo.com, and this year we have added Instagram @nyguitarshow. Our Twitter feed would be https://twitter.com/nyguitarexpo and our Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/NYGuitarExpo?ref=bookmarks. Interested vendors may contact us at rich@nyguitarexpo.com or 516-435-8382.