Other Guitars

Blondes have more fun!


I felt a responsibility to make a thread for our “natural” guitars. Show us your blonds! Me first...


Soon, when Musician’s Friend ships it, I’ll have one of these in the family.


Dang, Bob! You'll be living with 5 beautiful blondes soon! Can you keep up?


I knew it was coming.

I wonder if natural acoustics belong, though. I was going to call those "Organic." Or "Fields of Gold." "Wheaties"?


Don't have any at the moment but i had a 1996 Fender Telecaster 52 reissue and a 1989 Rickenbacker 325V59 Mapleglo.

But as Photobucket has all my pics hostage i don't have any to post, well ,except for this not too good pic of the wee Rick.


Alvarez-Yairi DY77 Herringbone, late 70s
I've owned this one for 37 years, and it's never needed any setup attention or maintenance. It's not my oldest guitar, but it's one of three I've owned longest - and I've never ever wanted another dreadnaught. Slope-shoulder, sure, and a parlor guitar. But for your spruce-over-rosewood herringbone classic, this is it. I paid 175.00, used, in a stoner's music store. I think he needed a bag.


Sorry, you have to see more of it.


Technically, they are Blondes...it sure is nice to see how they age!


Ibanez AE450 5-string Classical A/E, mid-80s

Such a humble guitar. The pickup doesn't even sound good enough to gig with - but this guitar records beautifully. Just the right body depth. I bought it from my drummer of the era, a giant spirit in a giant of a man known by all as Stacks (short for Haystack). I have no idea why he had it - he never played a lick - but he was a master of 5-way wheeler deals, and I was often part of one.

Somehow these blondes are pulling up emotional attachments. The guitar means more to me just because he owned it.

This was Stacks: he was born and lived in true hand-to-mouth poverty with his mother in a decaying glazed-block company row house on a dead end cinder street called "Hunky Row" (for Hungarian) in the long-moribund clay company town of Haydenville, Ohio. He scrambled at every makeshift way to earn a buck, from running a grocery store in his living room to the above-mentioned wheeler-dealin' to playing in bands.

(He was a gifted drummer, but he learned his craft from Salvation Army and Goodwill records, and his influences were widely and wildly scattered. It was like playing with a schizophrenic chameleon. He dwarfed a white Rogers kit with a 20" bass drum, sitting motionless on a converted office chair - and he could bounce a snare drum on its stand off the floor with his wrist stroke.)

So many stories. We once recorded an all-percussion album called Music to Make Love To, with his rhythmic impressions of the stages of so doing, starting with a warmup called "Floorplay."

On Hunky Row in Haydenville in the 80s, an insurance man still called on customers to collect every week. When Stacks was in his mid-20s, and as healthy as a morbidly obese (but oddly graceful) guy would ever be, he conceived the notion that he would die of cancer - and he took out cancer-specific insurance. He paid the premium faithfully.

Eventually he married and moved to Florida with his wife and mother. He started managing a motel, and when he had trouble getting rid of the mattresses and other used bedding to comply with state law, he started a little business hauling away mattresses from motels - and getting paid per unit. Then he figured out how to refresh/remanufacture the mattresses, and got paid again to sell them back.

He ended up enjoying a few years of what anyone would count as success: bills paid, nice house near the beach, all the gadgets he wanted including a used Winnebago. There was a son, and he took care of his mother. He still played occasionally in local clubs.

He died of cancer in 2001, with the insurance paid up - and it paid off. Best deal Stacks ever made.

Glorious guy all the way around, smart and good-natured and as foul-mouthed as a bro movie. I miss him, so I keep the guitar.

I'm thinking of converting it back to a 6-string.


Trinity College Bouzouki

Geez, the hits just keep on coming. Twenty years later I knew another guy whose story is oddly similar to Stacks' - except his success extended to running a full-line (but always-struggling) music store for 15 years or so. Also a wheeler-dealer with a line a mile long, funny and smart and profane and haunted by the Holy Spirit. For awhile he made extraordinary money putting sound systems in churches and cathedrals (and in Southern Indiana there's no shortage of either). Then he fell from a tall ladder, leading to ongoing skeletal issues to go along with the complications of his chronic weight issues...

Originally from Kentucky, somewhere near Muhlenburg County - and he'd absorbed some of whatever's in that holy water. He was a natural, smooth, instinctive musician who never stood out - but made everyone else sound better. He was band glue.

He was also family glue; he and his wife took in troubled relatives from his clan back in Kentucky and made a family of them. Extraordinary guy, in his rough hustling way.

I acquired this bouzouki when he needed to get everything out of a practice/recording space before he got evicted and it was all repossessed. I assume he owned it. Surely he owned it. He owed me a little money for engineering a bluegrass album for him, and the bouzouki was part-payment.

This thing sounds amazing - obviously, like a giant mandolin. But the scale length is just perfect to kill my left hand, and it won't stay on my lap. (It's also a 7-string, because one of the hooks on the tailpiece broke. I'm thinking of converting it back to an 8-string.)

I can't really play the thing, but in memory of Buddy I can't really get rid of it either, can I?


No amps! They get their own thread. At least I think so. Otherwise our black thread could be never-ending.


Gibson ES-335TD, 1979

I don't care what they say about 70s Gibson, this is an heirloom guitar - and the electric I've owned second longest of any. It was the guitar for me for years, and has the beat-uppest case of any guitar I own. Used in many bands, countless gigs, lots of studio tracks.

This model has a factory coil-tap (in lower cutaway) - and came with trapeze rather than stop tailpiece. I added the (wrong) Bigsby when I worked at a music store in the 80s - shortly after I traded two Alvarez acoustics for this to a guy on the sidewalk in front of the store. If he'd made it into the store with it, the owner would have beat him (and me) out of it.

It was virtually new when I got it, and the finest guitar I'd never even dreamed of ever possibly owning. (Guy would actually have taken just one of the Alvarezesses in trade, but I felt like I was stealing it so gave him both my 6 and my 12.)

A few years later I left it out of the car in a nightclub parking lot after a late-night gig load-out, didn't miss it till the next day - and, yup, it was gone. Can you say it was stolen if it's just found in a parking lot? Local cops thought that was vague, but they found the guitar and under gentle pressure the guy eventually returned it. I'm a lucky feller.


Westone Rainbow, 1986

And here's its hot sister. Matsumoku was at the peak of their game in the 80s, and this was their take on the 335. It's just a fabulous guitar.

I'm sorry all these guitars have stories! Here's this one's. Whilst working in the music store, I got to know the people at St Louis Music. When I ran a solo stand-up-and-shred-for-3-minutes guitar promotion called The Guitar Stud Contest, SLM provided prize guitars - and sent their director of artist relations as a celebrity judge.

At the time, that was Ken Hensley (of Uriah Heep fame), who had married an airline flight attendant (we used to call them stewardesses) based in St Louis, found himself at loose ends and wandered in to SLM looking for work. The Rainbow had been on my wishlist for some time, I arranged with our rep to get it at dealer cost - and Hensley hand-delivered it to me when he flew in to judge the contest. I picked him up at Port Columbus and we had an ... interesting ... evening on the town in Columbus. At some point in the general hilarity I started talking about This Is Spinal Tap and Ken got very very quiet. In his best London accent, he said "That's NAWT a funny movie."

So that's this guitar. The case still has an SLM tag on the handle with Ken's business card in it.


Rickenbacker 360/12, 1996

Once upon a time (about 1975) a small music store opened on a side street in Delaware, OH, where I was going to college. Guy named Gary Wolfe, who was a partner in the business, sold me my first Gibson, a Melody Maker in pieces with a wrenching back-story (but which is the wrong color for this thread, so we're spared). That business later moved to Columbus and became The String Shoppe, a long-time High Street institution. Gary and I stayed in touch thereafter, and I bought this Ric 12 from him years later. Great guy.

Why was Rickenbacker putting black hardware on these things? And why didn't they keep black hardware in stock to replace the tailpiece when it came apart as pot-metal will? Don't they owe me chrome pickup covers and tuners so I can make this guitar match itself?

This is the 12-string I can't get rid of. It's hard to play, and I'm not crazy about the design - but it sounds like nothing else, and I've become accustomed to it. I'm stuck with it.


Carlo Robelli CR-500, 2003

Peerless-made Switchmaster knockoff - and much nicer than it should be. The pickups could be better, but this guitar is always a joy to play, with a distinctive range of tones I don't get from anything else.

Other than high value for low money - for which the guitar is more impressive 15 years on than when I bought it - there's no story.

Register Sign in to join the conversation