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Nashville Amp Expo 2009

Impressions of the first show, and the new gear we saw there.

For any guitarist, there’s nothing better than being able to plug into your favorite rig, turn it up to your heart’s content and wail away without having to hear someone yell, “Turn that damn thing down!” And that’s exactly the concept behind the first annual Nashville Amp Expo, which was held this past weekend at the Hyatt Place in Brentwood, Tenn., just a few miles south of downtown Nashville.

While certainly not the first amp show of its kind, the Amp Expo was the first one in Nashville, where countless studio and pro musicians are constantly on the prowl for that exclusive, one-of-a-kind tone that usually ends up defining the next big single or album.

The Expo’s main sponsor, Creation Audio Labs, booked the entire Hyatt Place – that’s right, all five floors – and 72 exhibitors helped fill it full of the latest, greatest guitar gear. Among those displaying their newest wares were Marshall, Vox, Peavey, Digitech, Lindy Fralin (yes, he was there in the flesh), Metropoulos Amplification, Reeves Amplification and Jensen Speakers, among others. Guitar manufacturers that made it to the show were Delgado Guitars, RG Custom Basses, Crow Hill Guitars, and Kelton Swade Relics.

“It really was an awesome show, and we take our hats off to all the people that made it possible,” said Gary Gistinger, president of Creation Audio Labs. “We’re still thinking about doing another one in February, but we’re not quite sure yet. We’re querying all the participants now and should have an answer soon. But there will definitely be another Expo next summer on Aug. 21-22, 2010, at the same hotel, so plan on that one for sure.”

Among those displaying new products for the first time were HipKitty, with its brand new Ocotillo amp head – expect a new page for it on the HipKitty website by week’s end. Reason Amps unveiled the newest small terror, called the Bambino, which packs 8W of power into a compact head that actually sounds much bigger than it looks (check out the YouTube demo). Bob Reinhardt of Reinhardt Amps brought along three as-yet-unnamed prototype models, including a big “clean” head with four 6L6 tubes and reverb, a new bass amp, and a stunning “Dumble bluesmaster-style” amp that practically stole the show. Nolatone also had people talking with its new Super JuneBug, an amazing two-channel 5W amp with extreme versatility, and the new Chimey Limey 30, which was described by one attended as a “Vox AC30 with no issues … perfect.” Kingdom Amplifiers unveiled its new 50W, all tube Neuma Standard, and Ark Amplifiers showed off the first prototype of its latest model, the Tarkus.

Click next for photos from the show...

Manuel Delgado of Delgado Guitars talks the finer points of guitar luthiery during his presentation at the Nashville Amp Expo on Aug. 23, 2009.

Two heads from Kingdom Amplifiers

Noted pickup guru Lindy Fralin demonstrating the tone from one of his many pickups

An impressive display of power from the Trillium Amplifier Company

An unidentified attendee putting a few Peavey amplifiers through their paces

An unidentified attendee rocking out on one of the new amps from Industrial amps while rep, Tony, watches

A few vintage "relics" from Nashville's Kelton Swade, maker of "relic guitars with vintage soul"

An unidentified attendee checks out a few Marshall amps

A few of the latest creations from Retro-King Amps of Marcellus, N.Y.

Bob Reinhardt watches as an unidentified attendee test drives one of his new Reinhardt Amps

The latest from Reeves Amplification

For more information on the Nashville Amp Expo, visit