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Ax to grind

Oh, yeah. Those of us who know what a real fetish is, the kind that makes you kinda dizzy and stupid, are about to be real happy. We're guitar lovers. No, not the occasional strummers or weekend rock stars or haphazard collectors, although those people will find something to gawk at on Saturday and Sunday at the 22nd Annual Dallas Guitar Show at Fair Park. It's the biggest and oldest guitar trade show anywhere, and it's like Fantasyland for people who are happiest surrounded by these wonders of design and sound. (OK, I confess.)

For the true fetishist, these modest wooden sculptures are pure works of art, as distinctive and desirable as any Renoir or '65 GTO. If you hold one, plug it in and give it a go, you might understand--the difference between a single coil and a humbucker, the difference between ash and mahogany. A good player is as defined by his guitar as a band is by its sound. It's no mistake that Stevie Ray played a vintage Strat, that Thurston Moore plays a busted pawn-shop rig, that Elvis Costello prefers an old Jazzmaster to a new Les Paul. For a fetishist, these things aren't so much discussed as they are simply understood--though talking about it is gratifying. For people like us, buying a guitar is like a having a kid.

From new Danelectros to ancient Gibsons to re-issued Telecasters, the big yearly guitar show overflows with every kind of new and used guitar around, every kind of electric, acoustic, and electro-coustic hybrid available. Want a bright, shiny Strat for your teenager (actually, may I suggest a more reasonably priced Squier for the beginner), or a fat and serious Gretsch for yourself? Rock, country, jazz, bluegrass--every sonic vehicle is here and fit to be haggled over. You can even trade in your old Peavy for something (say a cheap effects pedal). Bass players, banjo players, lap steel players--they all get a piece of the action.

This is a festival of 10,000 vendors and fans, wheelers and dealers, and featured musicians. What an efficient way to spend an afternoon, to price-and-product compare in one fell swoop. Ever tried shopping for a mandolin? No driving from shop to shop, wasting endless hours in the smarmy dealer settings of MARS or Guitar Center.

Plus, a portion of the ticket sales goes to local charities. Sounds like a good deal to me.

--Christina Rees

The 22nd Annual Dallas Guitar Show takes place at Fair Park in the Automobile Building, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. March 27 and 28. Call (972) 260-4201. Admission for adults is $12; kids under 10 get in free.


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