It had been quite a while since I attended the Ullapool Guitar Festival, and I was very happy to be back! From the stunning views on the drive up to all the guitar mad people attending the festival.
Ullapool is located in Northern Scotland, with a population of around 1,500. It has a large port, and is well known for its contribution to music, arts and performance.
The trip up for the festival, also means a visit to my first guitar teacher! He now runs a BnB down the road from the festival, called Clachan Garden B&B. Amazing views, rooms and breakfasts!
The festival brings back a lot of regulars every year, both students and professional guitarists. On the first day (Friday), the guitar makers set up their stalls, and the festival organisers are doing their final set up too, before the arrival of attendees at the evening concert. I brought 4 guitars with me to the festival, a Concert classical guitar, S-16, P-16, and the newest addition, the P-8 nylon crossover guitar.
Carl Verheyen, Soenke Meinen and Bjarke Falgren opened up the festival with a fantastic concert, followed by the ‘festival club’ hosted by Adam Bulley and Chris Mackenzie and runs each evening of the festival weekend.
The day starts off with workshops taught by some of the professional artists, such as Clive Carroll, Tristan Seume, Will McNicol, Hugh Burns, and Gordon Giltrap. There are two sets of concerts on the Saturday, a lunchtime concert and an evening one. The evening concert was played by Jule Malischke, Antonio Forcione and John Smith.
The day starts again with more workshops for the students. The afternoon concert was showcasing Allan Neave, and students from The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Luke Anderson, Jan Stransky, and Finlay Hay. The final concert of the weekend was split in two, first up was Clive Carroll, John Goldie and Hugh Burns. The second part saw Antoine Boyer and Samuelito play a fantastic concert to round up the weekend.
Ullapool Guitar Festival Trade Show
The trade show runs through Friday to Sunday, allowing attendees to try out instruments and chat to the luthiers. The show consisted of guitar makers, A.J Lucas, Turnstone Guitar Company, and Thompson & Ball Guitars. It also included larger companies Maton and Fylde.
My guitars attracted a lot of attention, with lots of people trying them out, chatting to me, and a couple of orders. An important part of these festivals for a maker is to get feedback from professional guitarists. They spend their lives playing guitar, travelling around with them and playing to thousands of people. Therefore they can tell me what they look for in a guitar when playing live or recording.
There were a few more nylon string guitar players at this years festival, so it gave me a good chance to get my concert classical model guitar and P-8 guitar into their hands to try. The feedback on these guitars was very good, and it reflected what I had been developing with these models. The concert classical guitar caught the eye of Allan Neave and his students, which they said felt very easy to play, was comfortable, had an expressive sound and projected well. I managed to get the new P-8 model into the hands of Antonio Forcione, Soenke Meinen, Will McNicol and Hugh Burns. All of them were very impressed with its plug-in qualities, and how true it sounded through the amplifier, especially for a nylon string guitar. Will McNicol said it was the best amplified nylon string guitar he had heard. Once again the guitar was found to be easy to play, and felt very comfortable. For me, that is very important, so that the guitarist will enjoy playing the guitar.
The steel string guitars that I took to the festival included the S-12 and P-16. The P-16 received great praise for its plugged in sound as well as its acoustic sound. Once again, the guitars both received positive feedback for their playability, feel and aesthetics.
Fortunately everyone I spoke to and everyone that tried out the guitars, liked them!
Ullapool Guitar Festival 2023
I hope to be back again in 2023 with some more guitars to show. The artist line up is starting to be announced, with some very exciting musicians already on the list. Check out the Ullapool Guitar Festival website for more info and you will be able to purchase tickets there.