Frankfurt’s Musikmesse: Musicians’ dream come true
Stars and Stripes March 14, 2008
FRANKFURT, Germany — Rule No. 1 of the music industry trade show: When demonstrating the awesomeness of your “professional audio system,” use CDs that don’t skip.
Rule No. 2: Know what a skipping CD sounds like.
“Is it skipping?” one of booth bunnies left behind to tend the dB-MARK display asked as some unidentifiable track bled a cacophony of chirps through a bank of high-priced speakers. “Oh no! The engineer isn’t here.”
Incidents like these are few at Frankfurt’s Musikmesse — a four-day musical instrument and audio-gear bordello geared toward industry pros, musicians, audiophiles, disc jockeys and outsider wannabes clamoring to get in.
The trade show, at the Frankfurt fairgrounds, is open to the public on Saturday.
There are hundreds of booths, with various vendors hawking everything from stacks of speakers curving spinelike to the ceiling, to handmade violins, to soundboards as big as a four-seater sofa.
Standing before a wall of intentionally grotesque guitars — among them a flaming skull with protruding eyeballs and a crucifix constricted in a python’s grip — Christian Strobel, a heavy-metal guitarist from Stuttgart smirked when asked what he thought of the collection. “They look like toys,” he said.
But there were plenty — thousands in fact — of other, less tawdry guitars to be had. Strobel, all but overwhelmed by the show, couldn’t quite come up with the words to describe it.
“It’s just this, wow,” he said.
And that’s about all there is to say, even if you’re not in the industry.
Industry heavy-hitters like Fender, Roland and Yamaha share space with lesser-known, yet talented makers such as Tony Tomlinson’s British Custom Guitars and Carolin Strohmer, a violin crafter.
If there’s something that makes music, processes it, records it, mixes it or burns it to a disc, it’s almost guaranteed to be here. And, as Strobel pointed out, it’s nearly impossible to see and do it all in a day.
There’s DJ equipment — dozens of stations of numerous brands — fired up for anyone to try. There are guitars, distortion pedals, 37-piece drum kits, trombones, sound boards, mixers, processors, computers and an untold number of other, often unidentifiable and somewhat indescribable instruments to tool around with.
Then there are featured performers, stars and industry pros who show up — sponsored by the companies they’re peddling for — to play, sign autographs and show the rest of us amateurs how it’s supposed to be done.
Slash, guitarist of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver, will be on hand Friday to put pen to paper, guitar or, as sometimes happens, skin. At least two dozen other performers and demonstrators will be on hand between Friday and Saturday for other demos, signing events and concerts.
Making it to Musikmesse
The Frankfurt Musikmesse is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. It is open to the public Saturday. Admission is 26 euros for adults, 7 euros for children 6-12. Tickets, at a discount, are also available at the Musikmesse Web site.