Northeast Guitar Expo - Farmington, CT 4/2/17 In-Person Report with Pix

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by subtlestew, Apr 2, 2017.

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  1. subtlestew

    subtlestew Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2000
    Kent, CT
    Greetings, TB fans. Since I have admired the NAMM threads, GTG threads, and other reports from events I could not attend, I thought I'd throw this out there. This happened today at the Farmington Marriott and Convention Center, CT, USA. It was billed as the largest guitar show in New England - it wasn't all that large, actually, but there was stuff of note to TB-ers, for sure. There were also some nice guitars - I'll include some guitar content after I finish with the basses.

    When I heard that this show was happening nearby, on my birthday, I decided to take a field trip. I brought my camera. Sorry that not all the pix came out well, but I did my best to get a sense of what was there, shooting around the crowds of people that gathered at the booths, trying to avoid having it stolen as I was trying out basses. I played at least one bass from all exhibitors that had them, except for Wrong Way Guitars, who only had one bass.

    First up , a luthier called American Son, owned by Conor Wenk. I didn't see him - the guy playing in the photo was manning the booth - but this unlined 5-string was the first bass I saw upon entry. It was sweet. Sounded amazing, and it is a beauty. The builder only had 2 or 3 instruments, this being the only bass. But I was drawn to it immediately. Its only drawback, to me, was the fact that the neck lines were executed as though it were a de-fret, with hash marks where frets would be and dots in-between. I prefer factory dots in key fret positions on an unlined board, though many prefer this method - i.e. "Jaco-Style."

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  2. subtlestew

    subtlestew Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2000
    Kent, CT
    Next up, CP Thornton Guitars from Sumner, ME. Chuck Thornton, the luthier, was there and talked me through his work. My pix are not great, but his basses were stunning. I played the sunburst one - note the back of the neck pic... the figuring is amazingly gorgeous. Bass played very fast and sounded huge. He said that his leg contour was designed to rest on the left leg, but it felt fine on my right in a seated position (the normal way.) He said that he had quickly sold 9 of the batch of 13 instruments he had made with similar specs - I can see why, given the high quality.

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  3. subtlestew

    subtlestew Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2000
    Kent, CT
    L.H. McCurdy is next... Leslie McCurdy is to the left of the table in the picture. Another situation where I wish I had better pictures. Leslie is from Westchester Co., NY, and his basses are cool. What I like is that he's got some unconventional choices he's making. He's a classic P-Bass player, so he likes his necks thick front-to-back. But his nut width was 1.5" like a J-bass - very comfortable for me. He also goes for simple electronics - one pickup with a stacked volume-tone. Despite this, the bass sounded very "modern" to me. I like the simplicity - I'm not a knob-twiddler. His basses are great if you are set-it-forget-it and like a sturdy feel. The fact that they are set-neck also contributes to the sturdiness, I think. But they are chambered, so they are light! Pretty cool combination of sturdy-yet-feathery, if that makes sense.

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  4. subtlestew

    subtlestew Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2000
    Kent, CT
    M-Bass was there as well, including Jon Maghini in the flesh. I played the all-walnut bass on the floor stand, which was a customer return, Jon said, from a customer that swapped it for a 5-string. The chocolate and gold hardware combo looked delicious, and the bass played and sounded as nice as you would expect. This was clearly a very high-quality instrument. I was very tempted to take it home, even though a used M-Bass is still a lot pricier than a lot of boutique new basses... too bad I was not in the market, having just bought a vintage Jazz a couple weeks ago. But this one was hard to put down! I also played the sunburst with the blocks and binding, which was equally nice, but less "unique" than the walnut. And, hey! Get a load of those Mustang-style sparkle basses! Very eye-catching.

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  5. subtlestew

    subtlestew Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2000
    Kent, CT
    Next up, Valenti Basses! @Nino Valenti was there in person, and he was great to talk shop with. This is another one where I need to apologize for the photo quality - I caught Nino mid-Milky Way when photographing the bass I played, which was the natural Jazz, and then I got the back of his head adjusting a bass on the floor. But this was my favorite booth! I'd heard about and seen a lot of Nino's work in the TB classifieds, but not seen one in person. Great to not only see one, but play one and meet the man himself. The natural jazz was the best-playing bass of the day, I thought, and his Aguilar electronic set-up sounded great. Those of you who have been following him may know that he's been doing a series of instruments where he bought the parts in quantity so he could make a bunch of non-custom instruments and offer them at lower cost; this was one of those, and it again made me sad that I was not in the market. Very reasonably priced for a solid and great-sounding bass. I was impressed.

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  6. subtlestew

    subtlestew Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2000
    Kent, CT
    PH Guitars was mostly just that - guitars - but they did have two basses at their booth. One was a Hofner-style (labeled "Hophner") that the owner said he built from the ground up upon acquiring an unfinished violin-style body. He reverse-engineered it to be like a Beatle-style bass. I did not play it, as I was drawn to the other bass he had... a unique 8-string short scale. It was an Ibanez Mikro that he had converted to 8-string. Wacky, right? I found it to be difficult to play, given the fact that both frets and strings were quite tight, but it might be a cool instrument for the right application... perhaps a guitar player or someone looking for a unique sound.

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  7. subtlestew

    subtlestew Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2000
    Kent, CT
    The last booth with new basses was Wrong Way Customs, a luthier that says they specialize in lefty guitars. Mostly they had guitars, but they did have this one P-style bass. I didn't play it.

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  8. subtlestew

    subtlestew Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2000
    Kent, CT
    Also at the show was a dealer of used instruments from Northport, Long Island NY who had some great stuff. We Buy Basses is his company name (didn't catch the owner's name, even though he knew my brother-in-law in Northport... oops!) He was a bass player himself, and his wife, who is the singer in his band, was also present. He had some amazing stuff... especially a 1964 Jazz in near-mint condition. Candy apple red with matching headstock... SWOON! He wanted $15,000 for it. He'll get it, I bet, some day... the bass is immaculate. He also had a couple of other mid-60s Jazz basses and a Steinberger L-2... as an original XL-2 owner I liked that one. He also had a couple of very cool older Veillette-Citron basses. He said he knew those guys back in the day and had owned a lot of their basses. One was Alembic-ish, and the other reminded me of a Pedulla MVP. I played both, and they were solid and tonally versatile. Great pieces. DSC_0006.JPG DSC_0007.JPG DSC_0009.JPG DSC_0010.JPG DSC_0060.JPG DSC_0061.JPG DSC_0062.JPG
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
  9. subtlestew

    subtlestew Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2000
    Kent, CT
    WARNING - GUITAR CONTENT! Now, there were a bunch of guitar builders at this show as well. Shockingly, more than bass builders! I know, right? Anyway, I didn't take pix of them all, just a few I thought were cool. So, here they are.

    This guy, James MacDonald, had some amazing decorative woodwork going on. Also from Maine, he had these two guitars that were inspired by classic album covers. They were stunning. I wish I had snapped pix of his other guitars... but his booth was pretty mobbed a lot of the time!

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    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
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  10. subtlestew

    subtlestew Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2000
    Kent, CT
    Moxy Guitars had some neat designs... I liked their "steampunk" bass particularly, which is the one being played by the customer. Pretty wild design choices going on here - fun stuff. No basses, though... DSC_0063.JPG DSC_0064.JPG DSC_0065.JPG
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2017
  11. subtlestew

    subtlestew Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2000
    Kent, CT
    Over in the acoustic guitar room, this K. Michael Clark guy had people drooling all over the place. Gorgeous choices of woods and neat shapes and inlays. Check out that acoustic doubleneck! That might have been the most popular instrument at the show... all the guitarists seemed to want a crack at it. It was pretty crazy.

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  12. subtlestew

    subtlestew Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2000
    Kent, CT
    Finally, a few random pix. Gary Hoey did three performance/talk-back sessions, which were very popular. I also took a pic of this kid Bobby Paltauf that performed, since he was very talented. I also took pics of these crazy copper guitars that a couple was walking around the place with ("Tone Zone Copper Guitars",) and an all-aluminum guitar that I know I've seen the bass version of on TB, but I can't remember the name of it.

    Anyway, hope you all liked the report... It's no NAMM, but I'll take what I can get up here in Connecticut!

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  13. Garret Graves

    Garret Graves Gold Supporting Member

    May 20, 2010
    Rosemead, Ca
    Nice post here! Thanks for that!
     
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  14. JJR58

    JJR58 Dirty Bird

    Dec 2, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY.
    Very cool pics and report.

    And that CAR Jazz Bass, just sick, love that thing!!!!!
     
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  15. Garret Graves

    Garret Graves Gold Supporting Member

    May 20, 2010
    Rosemead, Ca
    The 64 CAR Fender looks like it has rusty strings (near the nut), or it's the photo. I mean, he could clean it a little, not a lot, but a little- and work on his signage. Pink paper can leech if it gets a bit moist. To me, rusty strings aren't a selling point- I'd be more interested in clean, new strings. If I was buying a classic car, I don't want flat, falling apart tires because they too are vintage.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
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  16. JJR58

    JJR58 Dirty Bird

    Dec 2, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY.
    Now that you mention it, I see that as well.
    That's a shame.
     
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  17. subtlestew

    subtlestew Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2000
    Kent, CT
    I know, right!?! Dream bass, for sure.

    Funny story - Nino Valenti could see it off in the distance from his booth, but refused to go look at it more closely. He knew the temptation would be too strong! I told him all about it, and had him shaking his head and smirking... saying "Nope, can't go over there..."
     
  18. JJR58

    JJR58 Dirty Bird

    Dec 2, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY.

    Boy do I know the feeling.
    That had to be a cool expo though, sure looks like it. My tongue would have been dragging across the floor.
     
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  19. subtlestew

    subtlestew Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2000
    Kent, CT
    Wouldn't be surprised if the strings were original. The owner said it originally belonged to a guitar player who bought it for the bass player in his band, but the bassist quit soon after. Then it sat in the guitarist's closet for a few decades... a true "closet classic."
     
  20. geddy402

    geddy402

    Jul 20, 2012
    Thanks for posting the pics and providing the info!
     
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