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While you’re strolling around looking at the many exhibits of guitars at the 2017 Melbourne Guitar Show, save some time to call into the Zenith Music stand upstairs on Level One. It will be well worth your while.  It’s there where you’ll see a range of quality fretted instruments that you may not have come across before. For instance Zenith Music has recently taken on the Guild guitar brand, which formally belonged to Fender. When the Cordoba company (whom Zenith had long been dealing with) took on the Guild brand, they also brought across legendary Guild luthier Ren Ferguson to join the team. Ferguson oversaw the establishment of a new facility in Oxnard, California, after Cordoba moved the operation from New York. So not only did Cordoba purchase the brand, they also invested in Guild’s history with the engagement of Ferguson. As a result, Guild has been re-releasing a lot of products which were associated the brand in the past. One of the most significant re-releases is the T-Bird electric, which features the iconic asymmetrical shaped, all mahogany body with C-shaped mahogany neck.

“They have been re releasing lot of old, iconic product like the T-Birds, the S200s,” Zenith Sales Manger Dave Bray tells me. “Years ago there was a famous poster of Muddy Waters playing a T-Bird with an old fashioned trem on it that some might remember. But Guild are releasing a lot of stuff. They’re expanding down a little too. They have the arch back acoustic series, called the 240 series and they come in at around $900 with solid top and case. We are actually just about to get our first shipment of American guitars very soon.”

Also on view on the Zenith Music stand at the Melbourne Guitar Show will be the Troubadour M240-E, a tribute to Guild’s F-20, a small-bodied beauty that was popular during the folk era of the 1960s. This petite guitar is ideal for fingerstyle playing and light strumming. The reduced size is excellent for smaller players or musicians looking for a great sounding travel guitar. The M-240E Troubadour features a solid Sitka spruce top over an arched mahogany back, a classic wood combination that produces a well-balanced voice with plenty of overtones. Other features include an Indian rosewood fingerboard and bridge, bone nut and saddle, tortoiseshell pickguard, nickel plated open gear tuners, and a thin, resonate satin polyurethane finish with a vintage sunburst top. Completing the Troubadour’s vintage vibe is the DeArmond ToneBoss, a user-friendly humbucking magnetic soundhole pickup with built-in volume control that is compatible with any amplifier.

The Zenith stand will also be paradise for fans of the banjo, with some beautiful Deering and Goodtime banjos on display. Zenith has recently negotiated a great import deal with Deering which makes the instruments much more affordable. “Deering is a success for us price-wise and product wise, they’re great,” Dave says of the success of the instrument. “There’s a six string banjo too, which is a ripper. It’s a cheat’s way of learning to play the banjo! We’ve even got a six string mandolin now … a guitar player’s dream!

“We’re probably going to show a lot more medium to top end,” says Dave of Zenith’s product on show this year. “Our show is a little different to a lot of other people. We try to stay in the background as such. It’s more about awareness for us. Last year we had some great feedback from people who were so glad to see the Starfires and Polaras and all that sort of stuff back in the country.  We have some interesting things in the Cordoba range such as the Crossover series, which is doing really well. It’s a 48mm nut on the classical guitar with curve radius board. It allows six string players, who don’t like the spacing of nylon string guitars, to try these out. We’ll have the Paul Beard resonator from Gold Tone. This year we have our stand upstairs because most of our stuff is acoustic orientated. We’ll be in a much better space where you’ll be able to hear a nice Esteve or Cordoba or Guild.”

Melbourne Guitar Show August 5 & 6 Caulfield Racecourse. Ticket info

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