The Vintage Guitar News and Views.
Authored by Robert Gregory Mayo, Proprietor of Gregís guitars.
All the girls Iíve loved (or the ones that got away).
As a vintage guitar dealer, when I am considering making a purchase for inventory, I have to speculate on what may be a strong selling instrument in the future. I have been lucky at times to have purchased guitars by just being at the right place at the right time over the years. Selling these guitars I have found it necessary in growing my business, yet at times it has been difficult to let some of them go to my clientele because, like you, I also have a special place in my life for old guitars and gear. This is probably the hardest part of doing what I do, letting some of my girls go.
So here are a few of the guitars over the years I wish I could have kept and found heartbreaking to watch them go. I started in this business with what, at the time, was an overlooked but not obscure American made line of guitars and acquired quite a collection before I started to offer them for sale to the rest of the world. These guitars were made in Nashville in the 60ís and 70ís at The R.G. and G. factory and were known as The Grammer Guitar. Although I had my selection of the various models the one that still stands out as "the one that got away" was a pristine example in Brazilian rosewood with unusually figured sapwood running along her sides and back creating a stunning guitar. But alas like I stated before, when your in business you have to meet customer demands and this was one of the last Grammer guitars I finally let go of and sold.
Then came "Priscilla", when I acquired her she had been abused, painted with varnish to Ďprotectí her, the bridge was lifting, she needed a neckset and had some loose braces, but had the most pleasant and pleasing tonal voice, I knew she was going to be special. She had some of the most beautiful slab-cut, cross grained and figured Brazilian rosewood that I just fell in love with. I could tell I wanted her from the start. After she was put back into playable condition she never disappointed me. Everyone that held her fell in love, she just made you smile every time you played her. There was (and still is) something magical about her and to this day I hold all my guitars to the bar she set. Friends would sit anxiously in my living room stealing glances her way until I gave them the approval to pick her up. Finally a good friend on the west coast just had to ask that dreaded question "How much would she really cost me?". Ahh no not again, why canít you find another to love? I threw out a price and without hesitation he ponied up and Priscilla was gone. But she still resides right where I sent her and one day she may be mine once again. Youíve heard the saying "If you love something, let it go and one day it will returnÖ" or something to that effect. Oh, Priscilla.
Then when the housing market went belly up and people started panicking, I was flooded with vintage 1950 era Gibson acoustic guitars. L-OOs, J-45s,Country Westerns, I actually ran out of money I was buying so many. Funny how over the years guitars seem to come to me in groups made by the same manufacturer, canít figure that out but believe me I won't complain one bit.
The one I miss was a true road warrior worn, scarred and ohhh so sweet. I had a client trying various J45s seeking one to add to his collection so naturally I showed him the best ones as I knew he had discerning taste and thought we had finally found the one he desired, when he glanced over to the corner of the shop and there framed in sunlight resting on a guitar stand was "Melinda". I tried to ignore his flirtatious glances in her direction and keep him focused on the guitar in his hands, as I wanted Melinda all to myself as long as possible, but to no avail. He insisted to see her and I tried kind of nonchalantly to let him know she was in battered and worn shape, rode hard and put up wet and was not in near as good a condition as the guitar he was playingÖ...didnít work, once he strummed her he just gave me that look of discovery when we play one we like and just like that, Melinda was gone. But like the other guitars in this article she is still with my client and, in his own words, she will be till his dying day.
As for the "older Ladies" this old gal had it going on for sure. Made in the 1890s by Washburn guitars she was delicate, ornate, intricate and yet plain all at once. She didnít have the best voice I have ever heard, but the sheer craftsmanship dedicated to her build was something to be desired.(In a letter from Washburn it was indicated that she was not even the most ornate guitar line they produced during this time period). She was lovely, almost breathtaking and all her trimmings were done by hand, no CNC machines back then boys. I know I can never replace her, but I may have the option to buy her back as once again she still resides right where I shipped her. After all , "I do sell keepersí.
After my earlier heartbreaks of doing what I do you may be wondering "what about those electric ladies"? Yes, I have also had my share of broken hearts with these girls as well, but my heart has always had a certain fondness for vintage acoustics since that is what I started Gregís Guitars with so many years ago. I guess the old saying about that first love still holds true.
I would say the first electric guitar I really did not want to part with as soon as I had to was an obscure late 1960 Ibanez electric. She was small, sleek and packed a punch with just the right combination of what were inexpensive parts to make everything fall into place just right. A cheap top loading ashtray bridge, body mounted single coil pickups with slugs of cobalt infused alnico magnets to really cut through a mix. Her neck profile was 50ís chunky and the slab or Brazilian rosewood for her fingerboard was at least 3/8ths of an inch thick. Several friends also agreed that she was the most "in tune" guitar they had ever played all the way up and down her neck. This girl went to the M.I.M in Arizona where she resides for all the world to see.
I have also been lucky enough to have more than my fair share of 1950 era Gibson electric guitars and the one that still haunts me to this day was "Jenny" a 1961 Gibson ES 345 Stereo model that was as near mint as I have seen and put the A** in P.A.F. Smooth lady here guys, articulate and well rounded like a fitness model in a small bikini, she made you breathe just a little heavier and my heart skip a beat every time I held her!
I knew just as soon as I saw this next girl that she was not going to stay very long and that saddened me to the nth degree. Too perfect, too complete and well, just way out of my league. I fell in love the very first time we met and she had my heart and knew it. She was blonde bombshell with all the right accessories and straight out of a 1960 centerfold. She was gone before I even had time to kiss her.
Now donít get me wrong here, I am not complaining about how fortunate I have been with my girls and I am humbled by those of you whom I have dealings with in helping you to locate that perfect girl for your very own stable. It is all part of what I do and I am fortunate to have owned or sold so many fantastic guitars over the years, but from time to time it is nice to kick back and reminisce, lost in yesterday and all the girls that I have loved. So until the next time, may all your days be memorable, all your friends stay true and all your riffs be killa. Greg at Gregís Guitars.