My Half-Assed Musikmesse 2013 Report

While responsible guitar journalists like my ol’ pal Art Thompson from Guitar Player and the fine young fellows from Premier Guitar scoured Musikmesse 2013 tirelessly and systematically, I did the opposite, randomly stumbling through the vast exhibition halls in a jet-lagged daze between my performances, aiming my iPhone at anything vaguely cool or weird.

The result: this collection of poorly focused images and poorly researched comments. But since I wasn’t being paid to cover the show, I have nothing to lose except your respect, dear reader.

My headline is charitable — this is more of a quarter-assed Musikmesse report. :poop:

Musikmesse 2013

Like the African elephant, Musikmesse is huge but endangered. It's way larger than NAMM, but participation decreases year by year. Manufacturers resent the high exhibition costs, and both consumers and instrument companies seem to find the event less essential in the internet era.


When it comes to EDM innovation, Europe leads the way. But in the unbelievably loud electric guitar hall, the vibe is strictly 1993. You don't hear nearly as much bad shred guitar at NAMM these days, but that's pretty much ALL you hear at Messe.

Orange wall

Did I mention that the electric guitar hall was loud? It makes NAMM sound like a library.

Hartung Caligo

I love the expressionist look of the Caligo model from German luthier Frank Hartung. He's clearly been watching the same movie as Robert Smith.


The Amathone model from Barcelona's Weiss-Hügel Guitars looks like a crazy, mad-scientist ax, and it is! I had a blast playing it. That rosette on the upper bout is an adjustable baffle whose setting fine-tunes the high-end content. I don't quite understand it, but the Weiss-Hügel website explains:

"When in Weisse Hügel we consider to make an instrument of hollow box, we think of creating something that was supporting the indispensable qualities of this type of guitars and that, in turn, had the most common problems completely decisive of these: Feedback problematic Final touch, Definition, Frequencies of cancellation (Notes of shade), Is absent of sustain in many cases, besides a relative versatility. The result has been the Amathone."

That should clarify matters.


I hope they get these guitars back to South Korea before Kim Jong Un makes his move!

Kentucky uke

Peavey created this uke for the upcoming FX series Justified Five-O.

RISA uke

At least you could play surf music on this lipstick-tube electric uke, from Germany's RISA.


Ever notice how much of the shimmery 12-string effect is really all about the high G string? This clever Dutch gizmo from Addventor mimics the effect via a removable seventh-string. You can even temporarily nix the effect by clipping the added string under the soundhole-mounted button. The only needed guitar modification is an extra notch in the nut.

The Bone

If your Steinberger is feeling too bulky, consider The Bone from Switzerland. These micro-guitars actually sound pretty decent, with more low end than you'd expect. They also make a MIDI guitar and a faux-acoustic with a piezo bridge pickup.


The smallest Bone of all, the Mosquito, weighs in at under three pounds.

T-Rex Haircuts

T-Rex Effects was offering free haircuts. I would have taken advantage of the offer if I had hair. Those nice Danish boys were kind enough to loan me a power supply after mine fried on Euro-voltage.

Nylon-string bass

Oh man, I'd love to have a nylon-string classical bass like this one from Prudiencio Saez.


I was set up near this Guitar Grip installation. It received far more attention than I did.

Mey chair

You'll be strumming in style perched in your Mey Chair System, especially if you add the optional guitar and beer holders. They have many styles to choose from . . .

Mey country

. . . including this special country-and-western edition.

Leather guitar

German luthier Georg Beïs specializes in guitars made from nature's finest tonewood: leather! Shown here: the Samaria Nature model.

Smokers' Pole

Folks smoke more in Europe than in the States. As a result, they've developed some highly idiosyncratic tobacco-based practices.


There's a special breed of bassists for whom six strings simply aren't enough. Such players require a Marleaux.


This crappy photo doesn't do justice to the this remarkable damascene finish on this Jens Ritter guitar.


Yeah, I could make some hippie-crystal joke, but Jens Ritter's workmanship is too remarkable to mock.

Ramirez bag

You already knew that Madrid's José Ramirez workshop crafts some of the world's finest classical guitars. But did you also know they made the world's prettiest shopping bag?


Speaking of bags! But now I want a handbag-shaped guitar.

big scott

I dig Anthrax's Scott Ian. Especially when he's three stories tall!


Rocksmith seems to be the opposite of Guitar Hero: a video game where the ability to play is actually an advantage.

BodyBeat Sync

In a perfect world, guitarists wouldn't need help keeping a steady beat. But we live in this world, so the BodyBeat Sync from Peterson Tuners could be a very helpful tool.


From 30,000 feet up, Greenland seems appealingly quiet.

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1993 thumbnail
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Hartung Caligo thumbnail
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AK-47 thumbnail
Kentucky uke thumbnail
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The Bone thumbnail
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T-Rex Haircuts thumbnail
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Mey chair thumbnail
Mey country thumbnail
Leather guitar thumbnail
Smokers' Pole thumbnail
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Ramirez bag thumbnail
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Rocksmith thumbnail
BodyBeat Sync thumbnail
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12 comments to My Half-Assed Musikmesse 2013 Report

  • Thomas

    I’m pretty sure the fancy blue/gold hollowbody is a Jens Ritter creation.

  • I want one!

    If the Ventures ever backed-up Rudy Vallee, THIS is the instrument.

    Not sure if Nokie could use his thumpick tho’ :^)

    I LOVE this report, BTW!

  • smgear

    cool stuff. Thanks for sharing. I also want that nylon bass. I love detuning my classical guitars and thunking away.

    • joe

      Yeah, I love low-tuned nylon too. One of the coolest instruments I ever played was a baritone classical belonging to guitarist/composer/genius Gustavo Santaolalla, made by some Argentinian luthier whose name I can’t recall. Nylon strings sound gorgeous in that register.

      • smgear

        that sounds perfect. A couple weeks ago on a work break I was scouring the pyramid string catalog and found a couple possible tension/scale options for building a shorter scale nylon baritone or bass. Whenever I get back home to my tools, I want to try building a couple short-scale ‘low’ instruments out of carbon fiber. They wouldn’t have much acoustic power (pretty much only the harmonic range), but could be great for jamming and recording.

        Check out the catalog. Some of their more obscure folk configurations are pretty appealing:

  • Sebastian Enriquez

    Amazing stuff! Specially the Mey Chair System; really need one of those, normal chair or the side of the bed sometimes gets kinda uncomfortable

  • Oinkus

    And we are supposed to be critics of your work Joe ? That Marleaux is a pretty badass piece,my bass player would just have fits with something like that! Great stuff , thanks for the peek at cool things from far away!

  • Thecoslar

    I don’t suppose you got a chance to check out the Bogner’s new line of pedals, did you? The video clips I’ve seen look really interesting.

    • joe

      Sadly, I did not. But you know, even if I had, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you much of anything. I’m not being hyperbolic about the volume level at Messe. You really can’t make critical sonic evaluations of most things in that space.

  • thomas4th

    I really dig that RISA uke – their website lists a two-pickup tenor model which I may have to acquire. It reminds me a bit of the Charvel Surfcaster, a cool semi-hollow which Charvel recently ruined (IMO) by turning it into another matte black EMG-loaded metal guitar, because the world doesn’t have enough of THOSE. But you don’t want to hear (or read) my ranting about that. 😉

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