Tritone Guitar Expo brings together makers of instruments and music | St. Louis Public Radio

Tritone Guitar Expo brings together makers of instruments and music

Apr 1, 2016

The Tritone Expo focuses on instrument makers, recording studio representatives, and accessory manufacturers. Organizers hope it will unite different aspects of the St. Louis music scene.

“We have a whole slew of people here who are ostensibly an army of one, and we're trying to create a community around that,” said organizer Michael Tomko, “We’re showing how legitimate these companies are at manufacturing, as startups here in town.”

The exhibition has almost tripled in size since it was founded last year. About 70 guitar makers, amp builders, drum builders, accessory manufacturers and music-focused artists will gather at Cortex’s @4240 Building this weekend to showcase their wares during the Tritone Expo. Tritone Guitars founder David Anderson brought in Tomko to help produce and promote the expo's launch last year.

That first event was intended to highlight area guitar and amp makers. In 20 weeks, organizers pulled together 26 guitar equipment producers from St. Louis for a one day event at Metropolitan Artist Lofts in Grand Center. This year the Expo will have 40 times more space and will feature demonstrations, performance, and hands-on learning experiences.

After the first event, Cortex leaders reached out to Anderson and Tomko to see whether the organizers would consider expanding their initial concept and moving the venue to the Cortex campus. For Anderson, it was a chance to grow a more inclusive event. Many similar events are aimed at a niche but he and Tomko were inspired by Cortex’s interest and the first round of Expo attendees.

Attendee plays guitar at last year's debut of the Tritone Expo.
Credit Provided by Dave Anderson

“We really started searching for all the facets of the St. Louis music scene,” he said. That inquiry led to this year’s expanded Tritone Expo.

Anderson stressed that the event is family friendly and not just aimed at gear heads. There will be lessons by Extreme Institute by Nelly, instrument “petting-zoos” and a host of food trucks.

Yet, the gear is still front and center. There will be some metal-body guitar builders. Amplifier producer Mills Custom Music Co., which is receiving significant local attention, will be in attendance. Another featured company is Jeri Designs Guitar Straps, a local accessory company that’s produced work for Keith Richards and Taylor Swift. A number of studio representatives will be on hand to discuss recording options.

Tomko said he hopes the broad offerings will be catalysts for connections between attendees and exhibitors.

“We hope to grow the fan-base of these exhibitors, not just that people come and buy things; we hope that people will come and interact and learn and be inspired or find that next person to take a musical journey with.”

The Tritone Guitar Expo will take place Saturday and Sunday at the @4240 building on Duncan Avenue.

Follow Willis on Twitter: @WillisRArnold