Fear the Riff: A Guitar and Pedal Expo Coming to New York in October!

On October 7th, the inaugural Fear the Riff expo will come to the Brooklyn Expo Center in New York!


The one-of-a-kind convention bills itself as an “effects pedal and gear expo,” and will play host to several manufacturers both large and small, not just pedals but all guitar-related gear — everyone from Jackson, Gibson, Charvel, Boss and Digitech to independent makers from all across the U.S. — along with craft beer vendors, barbecue, artist performances and more. Best of all, unlike major musical instrument conventions such as The NAMM Show, the general public is welcome to purchase gear! This is for you, the players, not for a bunch of industry insiders. 

To learn more about Fear the Riff, we spoke to the convention’s creator, Steve Seabury. Check out our quick chat with him below.  

Can you just give a quick overview of what exactly Fear the Riff is for anyone who isn’t familiar with it?

Fear the Riff is just a celebration of all things guitars, amps and foot pedals. I started it with my friend Johnny from a hot sauce company called Heartbreaking Dawns; we both love metal and a lot of doom and stoner rock and stuff like that. We always felt “why doesn’t New York City have something cool? Why do L.A. and Nashville have something cool but New York doesn’t?” So we said “fuck it, let’s roll it up and see if anybody cares.”

We just want to support the music scene here. We love foot pedals. We love that whole niche market – the doom scene still rocks – distortion, fuzz, everything. There are so many cool boutique foot pedal companies out there, and we all have the same like-mindedness. With our music background and hot sauce background and the foot pedal world, we just thought it made sense to do. I’m very passionate about this. I’m hoping the passion comes out and other people see what we’re trying to do. 

Is it just foot pedals or are there other kinds of products that are going to be exhibited as well?

We’re going to have everything there. We’re going to have accessories, but a good chunk of it will be foot pedals; I would say definitely 50-60%. We’ve got a bunch of guitar companies there – Jackson, Charvel, Gretsch, PRS, Gibson, Schecter, Ernie Ball. Sam Ash is coming. We’ve also got a lot of accessories like pedal boards, strings, picks. The best thing about it is that you can buy stuff on the floor; all these vendors and companies are going to have show deals. You’re going to buy shit at the show much cheaper than going into Sam Ash or Guitar Center. All the owners and endorsed artists will be there, so people will get to meet musicians and the makers. It’s going to be a good time.

What can people expect as far as performances and demos? 

Each foot pedal company and manufacturer is given a 20 minute slot. They’re going to have the main stage there, and they’ll have their endorsed artist or the maker of the foot pedal come up there and give a 20 minute demo where you can hear the sound, techniques and their influences. Sam Ash is also going to be doing hourly giveaways. The giveaways are pretty bad ass; we’re talking Fender guitars, new microphones, tuners – they’re putting in a lot of money into these giveaways.

We also have the Gibson Mobile Showroom that’s going to be there. That’s a huge Gibson tour bus. They’re going to pull right up inside the venue, and you can walk into the Gibson tour bus and check out all the new gear.

I’m bringing a Texas pit master up here to do a full hog. So you’re going to have pulled pork, brisket, chicken, we’re going to have a gourmet taco buffet. We’ve got tons of craft breweries there, whiskey companies will be showcasing their new whiskeys. You could come and just enjoy the whiskey if you wanted to. We’re going to have a VIP area where it’ll be open bar and free food and you get a VIP gift bag. We’re going to have artists there selling prints. Brian Mercer is coming up and selling doing Flatstock, where they sell posters. We’re going to have some hot sauce makers there, and I’m trying to get a pop-up vinyl store there. Fireball whiskey is coming in, so we’ll be supplying free shots to everyone. It’s mostly gear and foot pedals, but we’re sprinkling a couple of other things in here and there. It’s going to be a party, dude. It’s definitely going to be a party.

Is there anything else you want to add that you think people would want to know?

The one thing that we’re stressing hardcore, because a lot of people are unaware, is that you can purchase gear, on site, from the manufacturers. You’ve been to NAMM, you can’t even buy anything there. We’ve been getting so many emails from people like, “dude, can I buy that guitar?” “Fuck yeah. Bring a thousand bucks and you can blow it there.” Another thing I think is really cool: if you want to bring your own foot pedals to the expo, Sam Ash will purchase them from you and give you cold cash so you can spend money on new foot pedals and stuff like that as well.

We’re just doing cool shit like that. People are going to talk. It’s a celebration of guitars and foot pedals and everything. It might be too niche, but it’s definitely a niche lifestyle.


Tickets for Fear the Riff are on sale now! Buy yours here.

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