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Microphone Month

GearFest ’13 Better Than Ever!

This year’s GearFest, held on June 21 and 22, was another smashing success! The list of VIP presenters and clinicians grows every year (along with GearFest attendance numbers).

In our Performance Theatre, world-class drummer/clinician Terry Bozzio closed Friday with a jaw-dropping performance on his massive kit. He was later joined by Billy Sheehan and Gary Hoey for a spirited jam that had the overflow audience on their feet. Saturday’s capper performance was Fountains of Wayne, with Cheap Trick’s Bun E. Carlos serving up the backbeat.

We were fortunate to have many A-list engineers/producers share their studio wizardry at GearFest ’13. Legendary engineer/producer Jack Douglas gave the keynote presentation, sharing his experiences with the giants of rock, from John Lennon to Aerosmith. In our Conference Hall, engineer/producer Mark Hornsby and entertainment attorney John Bradley discussed the business of music. Grammy Award-winning engineer/producer Francis Buckley led us through the process of setting up a home studio with insightful tips on choosing gear, monitor placement, using acoustic panels and bass traps, managing signal flow, critical listening, and more.

Back in the Theatre, mix wizards Fab Dupont (Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez, Isaac Hayes, Shakira, and dozens more) and John Paterno (The Black Crowes, Bonnie Raitt, Faith Hill, Los Lobos, and many more) took each other on in a Mix Off, using the same tracks and battling the clock to see who would end up with the best mix. Multiple Grammy Award-winning mixer and producer Chris Lord-Alge generously shared his mixing techniques, including how he uses his signature Waves plug-ins. Legendary music producer, engineer, and mixer Frank Filipetti discussed techniques he has used on his projects throughout the years. FOH engineer Rick Camp (EWF, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Beyonce, Anita Baker, Natalie Cole, Destiny’s Child, Chris Brown, Burt Bacharach, and many others) shared his tips on how to get a great live mix. In the Music Academy, rock/country producer (and president of Mojave Audio) Dusty Wakeman showed us how to mic an acoustic guitar in the studio.

GearFest ’13 was guitar, amp, pedal, and rack-effects nirvana, with brigades of pickers coming out to soak up informative workshops and great performances. Sweetwater’s editorial director/technology expert, author, and tone guru Mitch Gallagher presented an insightful guitar tone workshop in the Conference Hall, showing us how to dial in the sounds of our guitar heroes, as well as how to find our own unique tone. Also in the Hall, bass legend Billy Sheehan shared his techniques, tips, tricks, and philosophy in an interactive workshop. Prolific author and audio technology expert Craig Anderton presented Guitar Production for Electronic Musicians.

Guitarist extraordinaire Gary Hoey took us under the hood of Avid’s powerful Eleven Rack in Studio A’s tracking room. In the Performance Theater, superstar luthier Paul Reed Smith teamed up with Grammy-winning Nashville session ace Brent Mason to present an informative, entertaining workshop on PRS guitars and amps – with a practical emphasis on putting them to work onstage and in the studio. Also in the Theatre, Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher put on a tone/technique workshop and demonstrated his signature Gibson “Golden Axe” Explorer.

Outside, in our Amphitheater, guests were wowed with constant action, starting with killer guitarist and KORG USA product specialist Freddy DeMarco’s Vox amp tonal tour de force. Guitarist Ben Woods, famous for his fanciful fusion of flamenco and metal, presented Cordoba Guitars. Singer/songwriter/producer and former Better Than Ezra frontman Kevin Griffin showed us how to wring the last ounce of tone from Pigtronix pedals. And guitarist/studio musician/clinician Corey Witt (a.k.a the “Tone Chef”) demonstrated how to cook up tasty acoustic tone with Taylor guitars.

Boutique amp designers Bruce Egnater and Dan Boul presented informative amp clinics on Egnater and 65amps, respectively. Brian Wampler showed us how to dial up primo tone using his acclaimed boutique pedal designs. Guitarists Craig Skala and Craig Thatcher presented Godin and Martin guitars, respectively. Thumbpickers Hall of Famer Lance Allen served up tasty tunes on Ovation and Takamine guitars, and former Grim Reaper and Barfly guitarist Nick Bowcott let rip on Marshall gear. Guitarist/songwriter/Arizona Blues Hall of Fame member Chuck Hall presented Fender guitars and amps. Bassist Jauqo III-X laid down an ear-expanding set using Ashdown bass amplification.


As we mentioend, GearFest 2013 was a stunning success. We want to extend our sincere thanks to all who helped make it happen, including our manufacturers, presenters, employees – and of course, our music-loving customers and guests!

As GearFest 2013 drew near, thousands of musicians, engineers, and performers made their way to Fort Wayne, Indiana, for the largest gathering of music technology and pro audio gear the Midwest has ever seen – or heard! Every GearFest we’ve held here at Sweetwater Headquarters has seemed like the best ever, and each of them really were. On June 21 and 22, GearFest 2013 continued the trend, with even more free seminars and workshops, more amazing musical performances, and more gear than ever for everyone to get their hands on.
Every year, we’re honored by how many people make the trip to visit us and how far some of you travel to get here – both customers and manufacturers! GearFest simply wouldn’t be the event that it is without so much support from all of you.

The best part of this mass gathering of audio enthusiasts was how the whole event flowed together. Attendees were able to try out a lot of different products, but they also got the rare opportunity to personally talk to the manufacturers that create them. Producers networked, recording engineers got to talk gear with their peers, and of course, customers were able to meet their Sweetwater Sales Engineer in person – everyone had a great time!

GearFest 2013 was guitar heaven. From Fender, Washburn, PRS, and Martin to Taylor, Gibson, ESP, and many more, an incredible array of instruments were on display and ready to play. So, it was a good thing that we also had a ridiculous amount of amplifier power provided by our friends at Rivera, Mesa/Boogie, Peavey, Marshall, Egnater, and Orange, to name just a few. And for those looking to create their own signature tone, plenty of effects pedals from Electro-Harmonix, BOSS, Wampler, Keeley Electronics, and many more were lined up and waiting for players to try them out.

With so many great people and so much to experience, we could easily fill an entire SweetNotes with just highlights from day one of GearFest 2013, let alone everything that happened on day two! We’re always humbled by the amazing turnout and the response we get from GearFest attendees. If you were able to attend this year, thank you for joining us! We hope you had as much fun as we did. If you weren’t able to make it out this year, start making your plans to attend next year’s show now – we already have our sites set on GearFest 2014!

Whether you were able to be here or not, be sure to check out Sweetwater’s YouTube and Facebook pages to see video highlights, view tons of photos, and to enjoy hundreds of live performances, gear demos, and celebrity and artist interviews!

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