In this day and age it’s rather common to order a guitar online and have it shipped to your home. Even in the shop where I’m working people often ask for a ‘new’ guitar from the warehouse when they’re finished trying the guitars that are hanging on the wall.
Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I’m still convinced that every guitar is different and if you found that one guitar that you liked in the shop, that should be the one you take home. That guitar from the warehouse, still in the box, can be totally different. Soundwise and playwise. That’s why I can’t understand how you can order a guitar online. You should play, feel and smell the instrument first. Yes that’s right, if you have ever smelled a new Gibson guitar, you know what I mean.
So I believe there is a truth in the old adage, keep searching untill you find the right guitar. But I’ve also heard people say that the guitar will find you. Quite philosophical isn’t it. Maybe it’s to far fetched, but let me know what you think after I told you this story.
About a month ago a guy walks into our shop. He has an old Gibson, that he hasn’t played for years. It was given to him by his uncle when he was a kid. It’s some kind of ES model, he can’t recall the number and it must be from the fifties or sixties. So the golden age of electric Gibson guitars. He wants to have it fixed so it can be played again.
When I hear the words vintage Gibson, I’m all ears. In my mind it still could be anything, because he doesn’t seem to know a lot about it. So I tell him that I gladly help him out and that he can bring the guitar in whenever he likes.
A few weeks later he shows up with said guitar. It is indeed a Gibson ES model. It is very worn, but it definately has a cool vibe. At first sight I can’t completely make out what exact model it is. It might be an ES335, but that tailpiece looks weird. It’s also not a fifties guitar, I’m guessing late sixties.
We hook it up and no sound. After fiddling with the toggle switch I manage to get some sound out of the neck pickup. The strings are old and there is also one string missing, but from what I hear it sounds kinda cool.
I tell him I can fix it, and that the guitar has still quite some value even if it’s from the late sixties.
He agrees with leaving it behind so I can have a closer look and see what I can do.
I know I have to take my time and be very careful with such an old guitar, so I have to wait a couple of days before my schedule allows it to work on the guitar.
In the meantime I find out it is a 1966 model ES335. Similar to the Eric Clapton Cream model. It has the small block inlays and it once had a trapeze tailpiece that has been modified to a stop tailpiece.
When taking it apart I find out it had a refret, a good one by the way, it has Gibson pickups, but they’re ten years younger than the guitar and somebody removed the pole pieces, the tuners have been changed and it’s very natural reliced. All in all still very cool. Actually from a players perspective these are the perfect upgrades. Better tuners, a refret and the stop tailpiece modification.
I clean and fix the electronics and clean the rest of the guitar and restring it with a fresh set of strings. I can’t wait to hear this baby come to life.
I plug it into an amplifier and the sound is amazing, very resonant and responsive. Wow, what a guitar. I’ve been thinking about maybe buying the guitar, because the guy told me he might sell it when I fixed it.
During the day I play it some more. We have some friends over that day at the shop and everybody who plays it agrees with me. This guitar has definately something. The idea of puchasing this guitar is getting more and more actractive.
In my mind I make some calculations. In short the only thing that is original is the guitar itself. Almost all the hardware has been replaced, plus the worn condition of the guitar. From a collectors perspective the guitar doesn’t has that much value. A guitar like this in mint condition with the original case will go for something like 7000 euros. But not this one.
I decide to take the guitar home with me and play it for a while and see if I still like it, when I compare it to my other guitars and play it through my own rig.
And guess what, I can’t put the guitar down. So what to do now.
I give the guy a call. I tell him I’ve been working on his guitar and I really like it. And since he told me he might sell it, I tell him that I’m interested. But that we still have to come to an agreement on the price.
I explain to him all the things that aren’t original, but that for me it will be the perfect guitar. He sounds very cool about it and he says he liked talking to me in the shop and he saw how passionate I am about guitars.
I make him an offer and also tell him that I still have to invest quite some money if I want to replace the hardware for some original parts.
Like I said he is very cool about it and we work out a deal we’re both happy with.
He lives not far from the store so I can stop by his place right after work to close the deal. When I get there we talk a little bit. I’m thrilled and he is happy that the guitar is going to someone who really loves it and will play it again. It’s been sitting in his home for years. And he is glad that it’s going to be used again.
So now I’m the owner of a vintage Gibson ES335, for me it’s perfect. The upgrades are ideal for a gigging musician. And I don’t have to worry to much about scratching the guitar, because it’s already very worn.
So to go back to the beginning of my story, I do believe this guitar found me. It might sound strange, but to me it feels that way. Somehow this was meant to be. I’m so happy about it and I know I will play it for a very long time.
To conlude this story. If you’re passionate about something and work really hard, good things will come to you. Always remember that.