PG's Shawn Hammond is On Location in Frankfurt, Germany, for the 2012 Musikmesse Show where he visits the Diezel booth. In this segment, we get to see and hear a demo of the D-Moll (D-Mon).

PG's Shawn Hammond is On Location in Frankfurt, Germany, for the 2012 Musikmesse Show where he visits the Diezel booth. In this segment, we get to see and hear a demo of the D-Moll (D-Mon).

"Premier Guitar" hops over the Atlantic to Frankfurt, Germany, to drool over teeming aisles full of attention getting new gear at Musikmesse 2011—the world’s biggest gear show.

Acres upon sprawling acres of instruments and ever-flowing taps of ale (or

bier, as the locals say) aren't all that differentiate Musikmesse from its gear-show counterparts in America and elsewhere.

Of course, the NAMM shows in Anaheim and Nashville have tons

of titillating tone toys, too, but this annual gathering of music manufacturers in Frankfurt,

Germany—which was held this year from April 6–9—is a refreshing opportunity to sample

sonic and design flavors that aren’t quite as common at stateside gear shows.

Here, luthiers like Switzerland’s Claudio Pagelli and Hungary’s Balázs Mihályi, Zoltán

Mihályi, and Zoltán Ughy (from Blasius Guitars) parade eclectic designs while heavyweight

European manufacturers like Warwick, Framus, and Hughes & Kettner host visitors in

huge, bustling, and often loud exhibit spaces. US-based outfits like Fender, Gibson, and

PRS usually take advantage of Musikmesse’s springtime schedule to unleash at least a

couple of new items, too. And then there are promising upstarts like Stark Amps and Nick

Page Guitars turning heads with unique, beautifully built designs.

LEFT: This dashing dandy at the Gewa Bags booth

had us wondering if we weren’t letting our sartorial

standards slip. In the end, we decided our garb was

rock ready but that we could also use a little more sun.

Still, Gewa’s gigbags are pretty nice way to tote your

axe.gewamusic.comRIGHT: Frankfurt’s New.MusicAcademy promoted its

forward-thinking educational efforts by deploying several

young ladies with a portable Vox amp, a Vox Virage

electric, and an iPad stocked with song transcriptions.

LEFT: While we totally dig classic instruments, we also contend there’s not enough envelope pushing

going on when it comes to stringed instrument design. That’s why we were psyched to come

across the ViolaFon, an axe that lets you play standard guitar on frets 1 through 9, and then rip

like Stéphane Grappelli—in wicked fi ddle style—higher up on the neck. We couldn’t help wondering

what Page would have done to “Dazed and Confused” with one of RIGHT: Bassist Alain Caron (left), drummer Damien Schmitt (behind Caron), and Frank Gambale tear it

up for a big crowd at the plexiglass-enclosed Markbass performance

LEFT: A crowd gathers to watch Hiwatt’s Alfonso Pinzon (back), an unnamed demo player, and PG’s

Charles Saufley (right) and Shawn Hammond (middle) shoot a video demo of the new Hiwatt

Custom 20 and Custom 50 heads (, which are now being handwired in the US. Watch

this and other Musikmesse demo videos at

Premier Guitar perused all this and more as we tirelessly walked the aisles of

Musikmesse to chronicle the newest, most intriguing guitars, amps, and effects we could

find. Actually, “tirelessly” isn’t quite the word—our dogs were barking pretty hard as we

journeyed back and forth from one cavernous hall to the next—but the coolness of it all,

in addition to our steadfast commitment to bring you as many drool-worthy demo videos

as possible from the floor, kept us trudging onward despite the blisters and parched

throats. So be sure to visit to check out our lineup of professionally mic’d HD videos after reading about what we’ve assembled here. Enjoy!


Pagelli Andre Archtop and Ekolette Solidbody

Few luthiers design with so little regard to boundaries—real or perceived—as Swiss builder Claudio Pagelli. He builds inspired acoustics,

archtops, and electrics with an irreverent aesthetic that rarely stays on one path very long. The Andre archtop (left) was built to celebrate

his 30th anniversary in business and features a body and neck of Canadian maple, a top crafted from moon-cut Swiss alpine spruce, ebony

binding, Schertler tuners with tagua-nut buttons, and a Häussel pickup. Like so many of Pagelli’s designs, it pulls off the tough act of

being classic and deconstructionist at once.

As for the Ekolette (right), it seems to be a blend of the extroverted stylings of Italian electrics from Bartolini, Eko, and Gimelli. Its

name, says Pagelli, is a mix of Eko and Echolette—a German amp company from the ’60s and ’70s—and the shape is based on a bass

design from years ago. “We always thought it would be a great shape for an electric guitar.” Specs include a mahogany body and neck,

a maple top, an Indian rosewood fretboard, Q-tuner neodymium pickups, Gotoh bridge, and Kluson-style tuners. “The back and sides

match the color of the pickups,” Pagelli explains, “but the rest is covered with vintage-stock Italian mother-of-toilet-seat [pearloid]. The

sound is very open and clear—almost acoustic—but with lots of sustain.”

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