Guitar Geeks Unite at First Annual Fretboard Summit


There’s a special kind of energy that happens when you get a bunch of obsessive and impassioned enthusiasts all together in the same place to geek out about their obsessions. This was the case at the first ever Fretboard Summit put on by the highly acclaimed Fretboard Journal, a print publication dedicated to the art and craft of guitars and other fretted instruments. You start to wonder if you ever really knew the difference between Brazilian and Indian rosewood and why on earth anyone would flame torch an endangered tonewood.

Needless to say, the amount of knowledge and expertise was overflowing but what really made the weekend (a 3 day summit at the breathtaking Costanoa resort in Northern California’s Half Moon Bay) special was the warm community and embracing atmosphere. Everywhere you turned there was someone opening up a guitar case to hand over an instrument to a stranger to play. Huddled around firepits and camping spots, there was a sense of togetherness that only happens when guitar nerds get together.


And then there were the performances. Some of the most celebrated guitarists performed and shared the stage with each other in some of the more breathtaking and intimate performances I’ve ever seen. Performances from Courtney Hartman, David Crosby, Bill Frisell, Blake Mills and Bryan Sutton were captivating and intimate. Collaborations between Joe Henry and Bill Frisell, Bryan Sutton and Courtney Hartman and Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge were nothing short of astounding.

CreativeLive had the opportunity to host a pop up recording studio, right next to the main stage out of a silver airstream. Performers, guitarists and guests stopped in throughout the weekend to lay down some takes both solo and with friends. On Friday afternoon, David Crosby even leant the studio his Martin D45 that he actually played on the song Guinnevere back in 1969 on the eponymous Crosby, Stills and Nash debut for guests to play.

Check out Courtney Hartman’s performance in the airstream studio below and follow CreativeLive on Instagram as the Fretboard Journal takes over this weekend featuring exclusive photos from the weekend.

Zach Varnell

Zach began recording in his parents basement in Denver with a two track reel-to-reel and a mixer from radioshack. In the summer of 2014, Zach went back to education, working with CreativeLive as a content producer for the audio channel.