Guitarist plays $90 acoustic for headline set at Guinness World Records’ largest-attended music festival

Bernth playing acoustic guitar on stage
(Image credit: Bernth/YouTube)

By now, we’re all wise to the fact that you don’t need the most expensive gear to make your tone sound great. It’s a theory that’s been disproved many times, not least by the legion of pro players who have played cheap guitars over the years, such as Eddie Van Halen and St. Vincent.

Recently, there’s been a renaissance of the “cheap guitars and huge stages” movement, which received new attention after Scott Poley played a $40 Harley Benton Strat copy every night on a 113-date arena tour.

Now, YouTuber Bernth Brodträger has thrown his hat into the ring by playing a humble beginner acoustic guitar at Vienna’s Donauinselfest – an event that is so big it holds a Guinness World Record.

Having attracted over 3.3 million visitors back in June 2015, the Donauinselfest – which takes place on the 13.6 mile Danube Island in Austria’s capital city – continues to hold the record for the “largest attendance at a music festival in one location”.

Owing to the caliber of the concert, Bernth would have been forgiven for arming himself with the best acoustic guitar money can buy after he was approached by headline act Seiler und Speer – the act behind viral track Ham Kummst – to assume guitar duties for the monumental music event back in 2019.

However, Bernth did what Bernth does best and decided to take an unconventional approach, opting instead to approach the biggest gig of his career – and play in front of 120,000 festival goers – wielding a relatively cheap Ibanez single-cutaway beginner acoustic.

"I want to prove you don't need the world's most expensive guitar to play the world's biggest music festival," the shredder said.

According to Bernth, the guitar – which looks to us to be an old version of the brand’s AEG template – cost him less than $100, and while you might struggle to find a similarly priced instrument online at the moment, today’s AEG acoustics are still relatively affordable. Having said that, we imagine secondhand Ibanez acoustics would be closer to the $100 mark.

Regardless, this is still probably one of the cheapest guitars ever used on the Donauinselfest’s main stage, and to make the story even better, it sounded absolutely smashing, as well. Granted, Bernth was running it through a high-end Kemper Profiler with some reverb and a Tube Screamer for added grit, but the guitar itself held up admirably.

In a video posted by Bernth, a couple of solo excerpts from the performance can be found, showing how the acoustic electric guitar more than comfortably accommodated the guitarist’s lead exchanges.

In fact, the guitar sounded so good that a lot of people watching the festival’s livestream commented to say they thought Bernth was just miming to a playback of the recorded track. Not bad for such a modest acoustic.

The Ibanez single-cut wasn’t used for the entire concert, though, with Bernth switching to his electric guitar later on for a final guitar solo.

Unfortunately, the guitar wouldn’t go on to have a happy ending. Last year, Bernth filled its soundhole with water and used it to compose an original song titled Waterworks.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.