Making its way back to the Caulfield Racecourse for its fifth consecutive year, the Melbourne Guitar Show is eyeing August 2019 off like a dog eyes off its dinner. Poised to be its biggest and best jaunt yet, this year's show – kicking off across the weekend of August 3rd and 4th – promises a (quite literally) jam-packed lineup of performers and exhibitors, with an emphasis on getting punters hands-on with the enormous array of axes on show.
In the lead-up to this year's Melbourne Guitar Show, Australian Guitar is going full steam ahead on the hype train. Every Tuesday and Friday, we'll be going head-to-head with one of the top-notch fretboard warriors making their way to the show, in the pursuit of getting to know a little more about who'll be melting out minds when they take to the stage. In this edition: Phil Manning.
Going strong since '66, the Perth native was a founding member of legendary blues band Chain, with whom he co-wrote such hits as "Black And Blue" (which reached #1 on the Melbourne Music Chart in 1971), and "Judgment" (which soared to #2 in Sydney). Manning's most recent offering is the 2010 solo album Checkmate Move, which remains a must for any fan of ace Australian musicianship.
What are you most looking forward to at the 2019 Melbourne Guitar Show?
Catching up with and listening to other players is what gives me a great buzz.
Why do you think events like the Melbourne Guitar Show are so important for guitar lovers?
It gives guitar players the opportunity to see and hear a wide range of musical styles at the one venue, plus catch up on the latest guitars and related gear.
What can punters expect from your performance at the Melbourne Guitar Show? Do you have any exciting surprises or curveballs up your sleeve?
I’m still working on some new ideas for the show and, of course, am looking forward to doing an acoustic show with Chris Finnen, a very longtime friend. We have a ball playing together.
What are you most excited about in the guitar world right now?
I’m most interested in some of the younger players around the world that have gone back to the beginnings of blues and country music for inspiration – Molly Tuttle, from the USA, is one notable example – and then taken that into new territory.
What innovations would you like to see companies take with the guitar in the near (and distant) future?
If I could think of something, I’d patent it. There are so many innovative things going on, both construction wise (materials, etc.) and electronically.
What guitar(s) are you playing on at the moment? Do you have any particular go-tos or favourites?
My main acoustic is a Fender Paramount Series Triple O; it’s really light in weight and has a sweet sound – not a big, loud voice, but it amplifies superbly. For electric, I’ve been playing a Fender EC model Stratocaster for the past 30 years, and can’t see that changing. I have also a tiny, high-pitched guitar made for me by Chris Finch, which gets played all the time. For a nylon string, I use a Cordoba Fusion Series, which is very nice!
Let’s go way back: what was the first guitar you bought, and what was it about that guitar that reeled you in?
My first guitar was a Broadway – a big archtop made (I think) by Hoyer. It had one pickup. I still have it, but it needs some work to be playable again.
What’s does the rest of your rig look like?
I only ever use a wah pedal (Jim Dunlop) occasionally, plugging my electric straight into the amp mostly. I have several Fender amps but mostly use a Fender Rumble bass head into a one-by-12-inch cabinet. On big stages, my preference would be a pair of 40-watt Fender Devilles or one 65-watt Deville. For acoustic, I normally just use the foldback, but my guitar runs through a Fishman Platinum preamp and EQ. I’m currently looking at getting an acoustic amp.
If you could design the ultimate guitar, where nothing is impossible with it, what would you put on it?
There's too many things to think of, but I’ve always liked the idea of having a great sounding electric that sounds mighty as an acoustic. That was the idea behind the Maton PM Custom Stereo back in the '70s, and we acheived quite a good result then. Now I notice Fender have a Telecaster Acoustasonic aiming at the same idea – I'm looking forward to trying one out at the Melbourne Guitar Show.
Who are your favourite up-and-coming guitarists? Anyone we should be keeping an eye on?
Gosh, they’re everywhere! A couple that spring to mind in Melbourne are Charlie Bedford and Aaron Schembri – both talented players who work hard, and I think they’ll be going places.
Melbourne Guitar Show 2019
Stars (ft. Mal Eastick, Nick Charles and Roger McLachlan)
James Norbert Ivanyi
Cartridge Family (ft. Sarah Carroll and Suzanna Espie)
Simon Hosford’s Fair Warning
Saturday August 3rd + Sunday 4th
Caulfield Racecourse, Melbourne VIC
Tickets on sale via australianmusician.com.au