Just outside the halls of the Montreal Guitar Show, the Montreal Jazz Festival’s
family-friendly atmosphere delighted children and adult music lovers with
whimsical street performers, delicious food, and cool tunes at every turn.

Features that turn heads at other musical- instrument trade shows—things like fanned frets, side soundports, armrests, exotic woods, and scalloped fretboards—are standard fare at the Montreal Guitar Show.

Now in its fifth year, the invitation-only annual gathering of cutting-edge luthiers from all over the world—including from Turkey, Malaysia, Brazil, and Germany—was held July 1–3 on the fourth floor of the Hyatt Regency Montreal. If you’re a journalist covering the show, it’s easy pickings: Every direction you look, there’s a masterpiece worth photographing, filming, verbally dissecting with its creator—and perhaps even playing if you’re lucky.

When we say “creator,” we literally mean the person who built the instrument with her/his own hands. Luthier attendance is mandatory for any outfit exhibiting at the show, and most of the exhibitors are oneperson operations. Because of this, there’s also something else wonderful going on just beneath the surface of the MGS—something that benefits players and the industry at large alike: These passionate builders don’t just come to show off their eye-and ear-grabbing instruments, they also come to share, learn, and help each other perfect and innovate the instruments that will shape both the music and the instrument building of tomorrow.

This year marked the third yearPremier Guitarhas covered the event, but it was no less charming and inspiring this time around. Because the MGS is actually part of the Montreal Jazz Festival—the world’s largest jazz festival—covering it meant weaving our way through crowds buzzing with French conversation (much of it powered by Heineken, official sponsor of the extravaganza), elaborately costumed street performers, and the joyful tones of more than 750 free outdoor concerts. It was impossible not to have a great time.

As always, our mission was to bring the Montreal Guitar Show to you in as many ways as possible, beginning with the pages before you. When you’re done here, be sure to visit premierguitar.com to seenearly 40video interviews with acoustic and electricluthiers from the show, ahefty photo gallerythat includes the instruments shown here and more, andMontreal Jazz Festivalperformance videos from Kaki King, EricBibb, Laurence Juber, the California GuitarTrio, and Jake Shimabukuro.

Without further ado, let’s begin marveling at the masterpieces from Montreal.