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Gear Fest Gastronomy: Feast Your Eyes

We make quite a few trips like this each year to feast our eyes and ears on the latest guitars, amps, effects, and other gizmos being unveiled by companies from around the globe.

As I write this, I’m looking out the window of a transatlantic flight to Frankfurt, Germany. Yes, gear editor Charles Saufley and I are headed to the annual Musikmesse trade show—possibly the biggest gear show in the world. We make quite a few trips like this each year—treks to feast our eyes and ears on the latest guitars, amps, effects, and other gizmos being unveiled by companies from around the globe. We do it so we can update you in virtual real time with our Facebook posts from the floor, as well as the photo galleries that soon follow them at

1. Luthier Jens Ritter (left) and PG gear editor Charles Saufley enjoy a variety of authentic Italian pizzas during our post-Musikmesse trip to visit Ritter’s factory in Deidesheim, Germany, last year. 2. One night during Winter NAMM 2011, some of the PG staff went to a Korean barbecue joint and enjoyed baby squid and the tongue, stomach, and heart of a cow, among other things. 3. I began my Summer NAMM 2011 trip by visiting the airport café and ordering a pulled-pork sandwich that arrived bearing the indelible handprint of its maker. 4. With this year’s Musikmesse trip, the fun began before I’d even left town. My spinach-tomato-and-mushroom omelet from the local diner came out looking like a formaldehyde-soaked internal organ. Cutting into it brought a gush of high-school biology-class memories.

As with any massive feast, there’s always a tantalizing array of stuff at Musikmesse that we’d love to spend hours and hours with—if only we didn’t have to move on to the next exhibitor’s booth to bust out our trusty Shure SM57 and shoot a demo video for you to watch at your leisure on our YouTube channel or our website. Like you, we’re always on the lookout for new tone toys to put to use in our own musical endeavors, so these trips are kind of a catch-22: We’re stoked to get to see and hear all this new stuff—often the solder fumes have hardly dissipated before the new contraption is blaring through the exhibition halls—but our pace on the showroom floor is so fast that we have to bid adieu to these new sirens of sound mere minutes after hearing their enchanting calls. Our only solace is the hope that we’ll soon get the gear in for a review. (If you go back and check dates you’ll find that, more often than not, we’re reviewing the cool new gear from NAMM and Musikmesse shows before anyone else, too.)

As I think about the gear feast I’m flying toward at more than 500 miles per hour, I realize that these trips always tend to entail literal culinary feasts, too—and they’re pretty much always just as diverse as the products we see at the shows themselves. Every year when we head off to Musikmesse, we look forward to eating delectable platters of butter chicken and other amazing dishes at Frankfurt’s Bombay Palace—they know us by name. Sometimes there are cool parties where we take in multi-course meals with amazing wines and exotic desserts. And sometimes we’re forcing down food that’s either hardly fit to eat or completely alien to our culinary sensibilities (for the record, I am one of the adventurous staffers).

Next issue, we’ll be showing you the highlights of the Musikmesse 2012 gear feast. In the meantime, I’ve included pictures of some of our more interesting meals from gear trips of yore. As you take a look, you may very well see food that turns your stomach— whether it’s because of the huge thumb hole in my otherwise run-of-the-mill Summer NAMM 2011 pork sandwich or the exotic meats from our Winter NAMM 2011 trip to the Korean barbecue.

One thing you can count on though, is that the PG staff is incredibly diverse, so we’ll cover anything and everything at the Musikmesse smorgasbord: Some of us drool over the stuff that’s more familiar looking or sounding, while others dig the whacked-out stuff. And a lot of the time we’re all knocked out when we try something we thought we weren’t into, only to find out we really dig it—just like with those slimy blobs of meat from the Korean barbecue.

Until next time!