Monday, February 07, 2011


Reading Nervebreaker Mike Haskins' story about how he came to own a Les Paul formerly owned by Quicksilver Messenger Service's Gary Duncan got me thinking about axes I used to own but foolishly let get away for one reason or another.

The first electric guitar I ever owned (visible in my profile pic) was a Silvertone 1478, built by Harmony around 1965. My parents bought it for my 15th birthday for $50 along with a shitty 5W Tempo solid-state amp, another $50. You could talk into the pickups and get signal. It had a wide, clunky neck, was strung with Black Diamond strings (the worst), and had a vibrato tailpiece that gave you _almost_ a half-step if you really jacked it. It got easier to play when I finally figured out that you could put lighter strings on it, and it was the guitar I was playing when the B.B. King epiphany described in the blues post below took place. I dropped it on its neck and broke the headstock off it when I'd had it for about a year, which paved the way for...

A '68 Gibson SG Special, which I bought from We Buy Guitars on 48th Street in Manhattan because it looked just like the one Pete Townshend played at Woodstock, down to having had the Bigsby tailpiece replaced with a stop tailpiece. It had a defective neck pickup, which is probably the reason why to this day I go for a midrange-heavy tone, no matter what I'm playing. (I didn't know about replacing pickups back then; by this time the Tempo amp had given way to a 15W solid-state and then a 60W piggyback Univox amp.) I played it in the first good band I was ever in, my freshman year of college, but it was destroyed when I took it to Drome Sound in Albany to get the bridge replaced and the guy wound up sinking the holes so that the strings were no longer straight down the neck. In despair, I traded it for...

A stock CBS Fender Strat on which some 15-year-old girl had sanded down all the frets individually with a nail file. This proved to be completely unplayable. I may have bought another stock CBS Strat off the shelf (for $350, with a tobacco sunburst finish) around this time; indicative of my state of mind back then, the chronology isn't entirely clear to me. I do know that by the end of that summer, I had traded the tobacco sunburst Strat to a friend of mine in exchange for...

A Gibson ES-330, like B.B. King's guitar but with P-90s instead of humbuckers. He had broken the headstock off it and his father had repaired it with road tar or something. I played that my third (and last) semester of college with my roommate and a drummer who looked like he was about 12 years old. We used to set up our shit on the quad and play until we heard police sirens. After that, I dropped out, moved back in with my parents, resumed working at the hipi rekkid store where I'd worked through high school, and began an acquisition mania that included:

1) a 25th Anniversary black Les Paul, which I bought off the rack for $350;
2) a Gibson SG 200 with the skinny single-coil pickups, offset like a Les Paul Recording; and
3) a single-cutaway Guild hollowbody with f-holes and a single ceramic pickup by the neck; all of which I traded in (under extreme suspicion by the guys in the store) for...

A stock blonde CBS Telecaster with a maple neck, which I took with me, along with an off-the-shelf CBS Super Reverb, when I moved to Texas in the summer of '78. In no time at all, I sold the Tele and bought a '71 SG Standard with humbuckers and a lyre tailpiece from Dan Walls for $275. I sold the Super Reverb to get a friend's girlfriend out of jail, and wound up buying a reverb-less tweed Deluxe from Tim Flynn. This was my favorite amp of all time, which my late ex-brother-in-law destroyed while he was in Korea and he was going to electronics school.

When I was getting divorced in '93, I sold the SG for what I'd paid for it (stupid). A couple of months later, I saw the same model/year guitar at Craig's Music in Weatherford for $2500. We live, we learn. It was followed, when I started playing with people again ca. '95, by a series of Peaveys and Squiers that continues to this day (plus a nice Epiphone Sheraton I got on "permanent loan" from John Frum, bless him); I play what I can afford. I did own a boss '95 reissue Twin when I was playing in blues bands in the late '90s, but I sold it to Jeremy Diaz when I got shitcanned from RadioShack in 2002.

I'm doing some guitar maintenance for a fella I know right now and it occurs to me that he has the exact same electrics I do (well, he has a nice American Tele while I have a battered Korean one) except his have all their parts intact. Perhaps after James is done working on my current Twin, I'll have to start treating my equipment better. Perhaps not.


Blogger Grubbermeister said...

Guitar porn! Nursing a semi now. Thanks.

10:19 PM  

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