Guitars shows around Europe

The Holy Grail Guitar Show isn't the only one - we are going to compile a directory of guitar shows, trade fairs and events, in Europe and around the world.  Currently many builders are attending the NAMM show in Anaheim, CA..  But there's some opportunities to exhibit closer to home: I've already mentioned the Paris show "Guitares au Beffroi" - if you can't make it there you may want to visit the Milan show "Guitars and Beyond".  Let's liven up the European builder scene and participate - we'll have more listings soon!

Applications for exhibitor spots are now accepted


Applications by professional luthiers for an exhibitor spot at the 2015 edition of The Holy Grail Guitar Show are now being accepted.  Please go to this link on the HGGS website to apply:

The application process will close on February 10th.  Applications submitted after that date cannot be considered. 

A few words about this:

We decided to stick closely to the format of the 2014 edition, as it has proved very successful.  Feedback from visitors and exhibitors about the last Show will be used to improve the experience for both visitors and exhibitors, as we want to make this next Show an even better one.  There are 115 exhibitor spots available.  We expect that there will be many more applications, so please be aware that having exhibited at the previous Show or being a member of the EGB does not guarantee an exhibitor spot. Applicants will be notified about the status of their applications as soon as possible. Please be patient, every application will be considered carefully.

The exhibitor fee has been raised to EURO 700.  Last year’s show was organized largely on a volunteer basis, something which we cannot repeat in this form.  We are mindful of the need to keep things as affordable as possible, however certain jobs require professional help, which in turn requires a larger budget.   Among other improvements the lecture and concert programs will be expanded, to make the Show even more attractive.  As the Show is well on the way to establish itself as the gold standard for handmade guitar shows, we want to ensure its sustainability and further development.

 The Holy Grail Guitar Show is destined to become the yearly destination de rigeur for guitar lovers and aficionados worldwide

Grand Guitars Artikel

grandgtrDie aktuelle Ausgabe von Grand Guitars enthält einen guten Artikel über die Holy Grail Guitar Show!  Information über die Show und das Konzept.  Natürlich auch jede Menge anderer interessanter Artikel - also kaufen!  Wir danken für die Unterstützung!

Grand Guitars Magazine has published an article about the "The Holy Grail Guitar Show".  We thank them for their support!

Exibitor list for The Holy Grail Guitar Show!!

We have just published the exhibitor list for the Holy Grail Guitar Show!  This is just the first installment - we are adding names periodically as they are being confirmed.  So, more to come!  But browse through it and you can already see what a great collection of builders will be sharing the floor with you!  Please share this among clients, friends and others you might think will enjoy coming and visiting the show.  Also look it over and if there are changes you would like to make to your listing, let us know.  We are stoked - already this looks like it is going to be a world class exhibit!

<iframe width="560px" height="315px" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

The Show

Dear Colleagues - it is done.  The show will be a success.  We have reached the critical mass of exhibitors confirmed and there are still more confirmations in the pipeline.  It looks like we will have a full house - more than we initially intended, and filling the location to capacity.  This week we will publish the exhibitor list and start working on sponsorships and publicity - for this we also need your help.  Please spread the word, use social media, contacts you may have, and invite people to come!  Let's create buzz and excitement and make this the event in 2014 for guitar lovers to attend!


Michael Spalt

President, EGB

Rolf Spuler 1958-2014

rolf-spuler"Our beloved luthier brother Rolf Spuler passed away on April 18th, 2014, after fighting a year against a difficult illness. So sad news. Rolf was a dear friend of mine, we've known each other for 15 years or so, regularly meeting at guitar shows, enjoying lengthy discussions about guitars and life in general. Rolf was among the first luthiers invited to exhibit at The Holy Grail Guitar Show, and even though he told me at that time about his condition and that he couldn't exhibit and most likely not even visit the show, he was still hopeful to perhaps beat the illness. Rolf was a great designer and luthier. Loved his witty sense of humour, too. Rest in peace Rolf, you will be greatly missed." 

- Juha Ruokangas / EGB Vice President

Questions and answers

As we are continuing our work on organizing The Holy Grail Guitar Show, we are mindful of the feedback and questions we receive.  It helps us with clarifying our ideas, with communicating to exhibitors about what to expect, and to learn what they think would make a good show for them.  This is, after all, the first such show we are putting on, and even if among us we share a vast experience attending all kinds of shows, we are new to the task. So feedback and ideas are helpful to us in charting our course.

Michael Spalt

President, EGB

This is from an email we received after I had posted the conditions for exhibitors at The Holy Grail Guitar Show.  It made some good points, and I’d like to use the following exchange to illustrate the reasons behind our format and why we think this is the best way to go:

From: Concerned

Re:     Holy Grail Guitar Show conditions

“Respectfully, I urge you guys to revise these conditions. I don't understand the philosophy of forcing everyone to show their instruments exactly on the same terms by prohibiting personal expression -- a standard based on the "lowest denominator". Tables constitute an unprofessional way of exhibiting high-end products; they are an amateurish thing. As it is proposed, I believe this will be boring for the exhibitors, and especially for the public.”

I can see that we will have to explain to people who haven’t been to either Healdsburg or Montreal why this is a better format for our work.  If you take the Frankfurt Messe as model I guess I can see your point of view – but this isn’t meant to be Frankfurt or NAMM lite in a low-noise format.  It’s a different animal altogether and different rules apply.  We are not trying to compete with Frankfurt or the NAMM, they have a different function and serve a different clientele.

While I do think for a lot of small luthiers the idea of being able to show at NAMM or the Messe still represents the step into the world of the big boys - “Now we are true professionals!  We have arrived!”, this does not square with our long-time experience. These trade shows are designed and geared towards large industrial companies, just as most guitar magazines generate their revenue from, and in consequence cater to the large manufacturers. The business model operating here is highly disadvantageous for the individual luthier. The expense involved in exhibiting at one of the large trade shows, the noise, the lack of focus, the wrong target group, the endless amount of tire kickers hanging at the booth asking for picks, stickers, posters...  We are different from the large brands offering cookie-cut instruments, forced to resort to loud advertising and branding to make an impression.

Let’s go though your points one by one and see if I can explain.

I agree with not having any advertising, or amplifiers without headphones, in order to stimulate conversations. But putting my guitars on a table presents for me the following problems:

- Lack of space. One table = four guitars are too few. If every luthier is limited to that, the length of the visit and the stay of the attending public is being limited too. The more guitars, the more conversations and the longer and varied the experience would be.”

We want 100% focus on the luthiers. It is correct that at The Holy Grail Guitar Show we will forbid pop-up posters or other large elements protruding upwards at the tables. Everyone will have the same size table, no more, no less. We will require that the master builder be present at every table - not the marketing guy. Why such crazy rules? Because this way a rich luthier cannot steal attention from the others. One can't buy 5 tables to show how much bigger he is than the rest. That is the wrong kind of competition – the kind we don’t want.  You also have to understand that 4-5 guitars are usually a whole lot for people who produce between 10-15 high-quality handcrafted instruments a year. And one guitar can stimulate plenty of conversations – the most talked about instrument at the last Healdsburg show was Matsuda’s new creation. He had 2 guitars on display.  As visitor at The Holy Grail Guitar Show you will have 100-120 top-shelf luthiers to choose from, so there’s no shortage of attractions.  Most people will wish they had more time to spend there.

“- Lack of presentation. The guitars are the protagonist of the show, and to better present them I have to use lighting, and specific guitar stands that show them not vertically but angled, in playing position, etc. On a table you cannot do this properly; any exhibition of a certain level is based on booths.”

We want provide an affordable platform for the individual luthier who typically has little money to spend on advertising and promotion. If we would try to organize an international luthier event and simultaneously offer booths that need to be built (and paid) by someone, we would end up having a mostly local German show populated by luthiers from within a decent driving distance from Berlin. Few other European luthiers would bother. Very few luthiers from outside Europe would come. All the pro guys know how much work and expense is involved in exhibiting at the industrial style shows where booths are required. Stands can be made to show the guitars in a playing position, lights can be clipped to the table - all these solutions have been tested and proved satisfactory at the Montreal and Healdsburg shows.

“- Lack of personalization, branding, or decoration = Lack of fun. If we put our guitars on a table, they are just guitars on a table. Allow me to ditch the poetics here: guitars don't speak for themselves: we do. An exhibition with tables is not a "show"; it is more like a country fair, or a flea market.”

Well, here we may be at a philosophical divide - between the music industry and the world of fine lutherie.  If you need these things to have fun, then admittedly maybe this will not work for you.  We think the guitars should speak for themselves.  We are individual luthiers making a living through quality and originality, not companies depending on a large advertising budget. The show is totally about content, not contest. Quality, not quantity. Rather than a flea market, try to picture this as something like a high end art exhibition with the added element of music. Blinking neon signs, pop-up posters, banners or obtrusive noise don't play any part in such an event. Believe it or not, such a show is an uplifting experience for both the luthiers and the visitors.

“- Lack of value. At the Frankfurt Messe I get a stand of 8qm for 2.100€. Here my instruments will be confined to a 1,62 qm for 550€. The HGS space is then more expensive than at Frankfurt.”

Actually the total space assigned to the individual luthier is more like 6qm. But the real value here lies in more substantial things – the contact with the public, with fellow luthiers, and with the ability to have a customer able to focus on the instrument. The public we attract is not the one thronging the Messe or the NAMM in search of goodies and star autographs – they are serious people willing to spend 3K to 5K, or even into the 20K range on an instrument – they want to be treated with the same respect they accord our work.  There is nothing dowdy or cheap about this kind of format – and as you can see from the roster of luthiers who have attended the Healdsburg and Montreal shows, even the NAMM or the Messe cannot compete with the quality and quantity of builders showing their work there.  In addition you get the EGB Symposium on Friday, where you can mingle with your colleagues, network, attend seminars, and the Luthier’s Dinner party – values you will not find anywhere else. Remember the Berlin Press Conference we held last November – the way the luthiers enjoyed each other and the instruments!  This is going to be bigger and even better!


“The idea / concept of The Holy Grail Guitar Show has brewed for years in the minds of those of us who have exhibited at MGS, and there realized the dramatic difference in how great such a show can feel in contrast to the big trade fairs. When I heard MGS is no more, I felt really sad to not be able to go there anymore, after having exhibited there 5 years in a row. In contrast, I've exhibited at Musikmesse 14 years (!) in a row.  It must be difficult to understand the depth and urge with which we, the experienced professional luthiers, need The Holy Grail Guitar Show, unless you've been there and done that enough times.  I am absolutely convinced that our concept is the sole concept that can work if we desire the big names of lutherie around the world to say "yes" to us.”

Juha  Ruokangas

Vice president, EGB

Luthierbuilt and other things

We are happy to announce that we are now collaborating with Luthierbuilt, a premier destination for musicians, guitar lovers and builders on the web.  In the short time it has been active in its latest incarnation Luthierbuilt has already become a force in the guitar world, with many useful features and a truly international audience.

I think this will be a fruitful and interesting project, for both the EGB and Luthierbuilt.  More about this will come soon.


As we are currently focusing our resources on organizing the upcoming Holy Grail Guitar Show, our work on the EGB itself has taken a bit of a backseat. Some of our projects, such as an expanded web presence with forums and informational networks, will take a little longer to implement. Originally founded with the sole intention of being a vehicle for organizing the Holy Grail Guitar Show, the EGB has taken on a life of its own. It soon became evident that something like this, an international European organization of luthiers, offered greater possibilities and demanded to be taken further. And as the year progresses, and when our work on the show allows for it, we will return to give more attention on developing the EGB.

The show itself is still going to be the highlight of our yearly activities and we are woking hard to make sure that it will be a spectacular offering of guitarbuilding bounty!  MarkNovember 14th, 15th and 16th in your calender - and Berlin as your destination. We have secured a great location and are now working on putting together the particulars.

Friday, November 14th will be reserved for the EGB Symposium - a general assembly, seminars, discussions and in the evening a luthier's party for exhibitors and EGB members.  The show itself will take place on Saturday and Sunday.

We have also made some policy changes - it is now no longer required to become a member of EGB in order to be considered as exhibitor.  It seems to me that whoever wants to join the EGB should do so for its own sake, and not feel pressured to do so just to be able to participate in the show -                    Michael Spalt,  president EGB

Sustain magazine article

sustainSustain Magazine published a nice article about the EGB and the Berlin Press Conference in its current issue.  Sustain is a magazine for luthiers, designers and stringed instrument lovers edited by Leo Lospennato.  Read about it at:

First General Assembly

The first General Assembly of the EGB was held Saturday morning after the press conference.  We discussed the structure of the association, introducing the new members to the way it works.   Then we decided on the next steps we are going to take regarding the organization of the EGB and finished off with the (by now traditional) toast of Finnish Salmiakki, kindly provided by Juha Ruokangas, our vice president!