The world’s only festival focusing on archtop guitars is returning to Arvada after a two-year COVID-19-induced layoff, with the Rocky Mountain Archtop Festival set to come to Olde Town from Sept. 9-11. Tickets range from $30-$150 and can be purchased on the festival’s website; archtopfestival.com.
The event is a showcase for archtop guitar-makers – also known as luthiers – players and enthusiasts that includes workshops, professional demos and live music. An archtop is a hollow or semi-hollow steel string acoustic or acoustic/electric guitar which rose to
This year’s event will feature the Blue Guitar exhibit, a collection of 22 blue archtops which was previously displayed at the Smithsonian, and a screening of the film ‘The Chisels are Calling,’ about guitar builder John Monteleone. Additionally, jazz guitarist Frank Vignola will be bringing his Big Jersey Guitar Camp to the festival for a four-day workshop open to all players.
The festival is organized by Arvada local Peter Henriksen, the President of Henriksen Amplifiers, which manufactures specialized guitar amps. Henriksen said that the event started as a Facebook post asking if anyone wants to come to Colo. for an archtop-only guitar show.
“The response was so enthusiastic from people who build archtop guitars that I decided we needed to put on a real conference. Archtop builders themselves felt there was an outstanding need to have a show that focuses on the archtop guitar,” Henriksen said.
“The first one was a huge success in 2019. Everyone had such a good time we decided we’d do it every year, then 2020 happened. This is our second one, this will be an annual event,” Henriksen continued.
Henriksen explained that archtops differ from other guitars in how they’re built and having a festival just for archtop luthiers provides an important forum to discuss the craft. The Rocky Mountain Archtop Festival is the only archtop-only guitar show, according to Henriksen.
“Building an archtop is a lot different than building other types of guitars. There’s more carving, the guitars are under a higher tension, it’s a more complicated type of guitar to build and to build properly. For archtop luthiers, it’s an important context because what they do is specifically more challenging and complicated than other types of guitars,” Henriksen said.
Benedetto Guitars, Maegen Wells Guitars and Mandolins, D'Ambrosio Guitars and Galloup Guitars are some of the luthiers who will be in attendance. Jimmy Bruno, Jim Nichols, Beth Marlis and Alicyn Yaffee are some of the professionals who will be playing shows and performing demos throughout the weekend.
Olde Town Pickin’ Parlor Owner Kit Simon said that the acoustic instrument shop will host shows and workshops throughout the weekend and will provide a green room for musicians and luthiers to decompress.
Simon said that since many of the luthiers attending the event make highly specialized, high priced instruments, it’s important for perspective buyers to hear the guitars before making a purchase.
“Part of this is about guitar makers coming and showing off their guitars and getting to know customers. When you’re selling guitars for $10, $20, $30,000, it should be more about the sound. This is a way for (customers) to meet the luthier as well as see the build quality and hear the guitars,” Simon said.
Olde Town Business Improvement District Director Joe Hengstler praised the events uniqueness and offerings for guitar aficionados and music lovers alike.
"The Archtop Festival is by far one of the most unique events across the entire Front Range, and we are fortunate that they continue to choose Olde Town as their locale. This festival affords the community a chance to see some world-renowned musicians in their backyard for free,” Hengstler said.
Needless to say, we are thrilled to see the Archtop Fest return and hope to see this event continue to happen in Old Town for years to come,” Hengstler continued.
To find out more about the Rocky Mountain Archtop Festival, visit the festival’s website at archtopfestival.com.