The axemen are coming — to Freeport. Strumming enthusiasts of all ages will descend on the 5th annual New York Guitar Expo in Freeport, in hopes of buying and selling equipment through some fancy wheelin’ and dealin’.
“I wanted to create an atmosphere where people can browse and barter,” says founder and organizer Rich Johnson. “Anybody who walks in the door can usually find something they are looking for, from a $10 strap to a $50,000 guitar.”
HOW IT BEGAN
Johnson, host of “The Fishing Line” on WGBB radio and MagRack TV program, is a guitar player and collector who wanted to build a boat show-type environment for guitar players.
The event began five years ago at a church gymnasium in Merrick with 27 vendors. Today the expo has tripled in size and runs for two days.
“People can bring their old equipment to trade in or sell for cash to any vendor,” says Johnson. “You’ll see somebody walking around with a guitar case on their back with a label that says 1974 Gibson Les Paul $2,000. If you tap that person on the shoulder and ask to see it, maybe you can cut a deal one-on-one.”
Vendors range from corporate businesses such as D’Addario strings of Farmingdale and retail chain Guitar Center to local shops like Murphy’s Music of Melville and New York Music Emporium of North Bellmore.
There are no musical performances at the event in order to maintain the buying and selling vibe. However, all the equipment is available to try out, whether it’s a guitar, amplifier or pedal.
“It’s always jumping,” says Johnson. “Our aisles are as busy at 10 a.m. as they are at 5 p.m.”
Taylor guitars is raffling off a 2016 grand auditorium acoustic guitar ($1,300), and D’Addario is giving away a free set of guitar strings to the first 50 paid attendees each day.
THREE TO SEE
Here are three local guitar-related vendors to seek out:
Black Flamingo Designs
See guitar jewelry from Louise Iacono of Merrick, who handcrafts bracelets, earrings and necklaces made out of guitar picks and strings ($15-$30).
“They make for nice gifts,” she says. “Every guy likes to bring back something for their wife or girlfriend.”
This Plainview shop will have a four-booth display featuring 80 guitars ($300-$25,000), 100 pedals ($40-$400) and fun gift items like Jimi Hendrix coffee mugs and Fender lunchboxes ($5-$35).
“Everyone is there for the same reason — the love of guitars,” says owner Guy Brogna. “It’s always nice to be around people who share the same interests.”
Analog Alien Guitar Effects Pedals
The brother team of Joe and Jack Napoli of Cloud Nine recording studio in Suffolk are selling custom guitar pedals ($199-$399) used by rock stars like Joe Walsh of the Eagles and Pino Palladino of The Who.
“Our pedals don’t cover up your playing style or tone of your guitar,” says Jack. “We made sure the personality of the player comes through.”