2 September 2023

Capital is tuning up for the National Vintage Guitar Expo

| Chris Johnson
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Man sitting down playing electric guitar

Ian Stehlik playing a 2008 Gibson Les Paul Supreme in his Capital Vintage Guitars showroom. Photo: Region.

After more than a decade away, the National Vintage Guitar Expo is back, so string up your guitars and bootlaces and get ready to rush down to the Harmonie German Club on 7 and 8 October.

What could be better than a weekend of looking at, talking about, hearing and playing vintage and rare guitars?

Well, it’s a bigger and bolder reincarnated version of the expo that ran in the capital for three years from 2007. This one is brought to you by Capital Vintage Guitars, who cater for the hankering so many people have to own a truly beautiful instrument.

The owners of Capital Vintage Guitars (CVG), Ian Stehlik and Simon Wilkins, seem to have tapped into that passion since they opened their online and appointment-only guitar shop in February.

READ ALSO Feeling the love for vintage guitars in the capital

Stehlik, who was the driver of the previous expos, says there is something quite magical about the guitar.

“Guitars are the most popular instrument on the planet, and they’re the most popular instrument in Australia,” he says.

“That covers the whole range of acoustic and electric instruments, and pedal steel, lap steel and, of course, the amplifiers that go along with them.

“For many, it’s a lifetime passion to be always searching for that next perfect feel and tone and look in a guitar.

“Whether it’s the luthier-made instruments by some very fine craftsmen today or the older instruments from years gone by that were made under far less commercial pressure than the modern factories, there is something very special about a handmade guitar.”

The expo will bring together guitar collectors, makers, dealers, players and enthusiasts from various parts of the country – it is the ‘national’ guitar expo, after all, and it’s being staged right here in the national capital.

There will be interactive demonstrations, historical displays, workshops, performances and, of course, plenty of old and new guitars for sale.

In addition to the highly sought-after American and European vintage guitars, there will also be a display and separate workshop showcasing the best of Aussie-made guitars from the 1930s up to today.

Some vintage Aussie guitars are just as sought after as the old Gibsons and Martins from the US these days.

READ ALSO From Canberra to Katanning (and beyond) – returning to roots after decades away

“We will have quite a few guitars there that were made by people who were still riding horses and buggies to work and using wood from trees that were 50 years old by then,” Stehlik says.

“There is something very special about the old guitars that were made so well, but also, ones made today that pay respect to those old techniques of guitar making.

“You can compare it to vintage car enthusiasts. They have their nice functional vehicles that do everything they need them to, and then maybe an older car they like to spend a lot of time with alone and then bring out to show others on special occasions.”

CVG has teamed up with the Canberra Blues Society (CBS) for the weekend expo, with the CBS hosting an intimate concert in the club’s Keller Room, featuring a lineup headlined by blues legend Jeff Lang.

Presales for a weekend pass to the expo (10 am-6 pm Saturday and Sunday) cost only $10 through Humantix or $15 at the door (15 years and under free).

That gives you entry to the exhibits and informal demonstrations.

However, four main workshops in the Keller Room and the Saturday night Jeff Lang concert are each ticketed separately through Humantix.

More details can be found at the Capital Vintage Guitar website.

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