Share your interesting stories about scoring a "vintage" piece.

Discussion in '"Vintage" Instruments' started by telelion, Aug 11, 2017.


  1. telelion

    telelion Member

    Messages:
    2,497
    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2002
    I don't have any mind blowing tales but here is a cool one from the early 70's.

    In a pawn shop in the Southwest, hanging on the wall behind the counter, I spy a very old looking Martin type acoustic(0M?) with incredibly aged patina and I know it is something. It has no strings and is somewhat beat and they are asking 10 dollars. I offer five pretending it is a POS not wanting to tip them off and they take it. I bring it back home(east) and bring it to my guy who runs a local guitar store and he was obsessed with very old guitars even then, Martin and Gibson mostly. It was a 1908 Washburn and he restored it very nicely and it went for a guitar(Martin D28 style) that he made me. That guitar was a disaster(his third guitar) so I ended up with a 1936 J-35 in mint condition. And in conclusion, like an idiot sold it for maybe $750 a year later. That was the most valuable guitar I have ever owned based on current prices.
     
    tealsixtysix and DBBlues like this.
  2. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,742
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2006
    In the early 70’s my friend had a guitar store. I wandered in one day and he told me he had just sold a early 60’s 345 “to some kid” a few days earlier. I whined and complained and told him he should have called me damn it.. about 2 weeks later I got a call from him saying the “kid” had come back and traded the 345 for a strat because... “he didn’t sound like Clapton playing it” ..
    30 minutes and $300 later the 1961 stoptail sunburst 345 was mine..

    Thank you Eric.
     
    jdel77, 56Tweed, EBW and 6 others like this.
  3. asintoras

    asintoras Member

    Messages:
    1,293
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Location:
    Exeter, Devon - UK
    I have a few, but this is one:
    1968 SG Special. This is my favorite solid body guitar. When I found it, I was actually looking for a Les Paul Special with P90's, as I was never interested in SG's. This particular guitar was in horrible conditions back then: poorly sprayed in black colour, a non-original black plastic nut, the pot shafts were completely loose from its body, the fingerboard was carved by the fingernails of the original owner in such a way that it looked as it was scalloped (well, still today, but not so bad)! Ahh, and the metal piece where the whammy bar goes attached was cut, because apparently it was bothering him to make pickup switches. He never realized that he could just wrap the strings in the wraparound bridge and he could just remove the Vibrola: no need to cut it!

    Anyway, no one was interested in the guitar, then I thought: well, it has a mahogany slab, 2 P90's, just like a LP Special... Let's give it a try!
    This guitar is incredibly resonant and so much fun to play! I had to buy it, but then restore it, so I was bargaining the price to a very low amount, (450,000 Chilean pesos, gave them my mobile number and walked away). Later that day, I receive a phone call from the owner of the shop saying "no way: 455,000 is the minimum!" The difference was nothing - like USD$10 or less - so I took it, but before leaving the store, I asked about a guitar strap, so I looked at one there and asked the price to the guy working there (not the owner). He said 7,000 Chilean pesos, and I said: since I am taking the full guitar, why don't you give me the strap? And he said OK, so I left the store with an even better deal than my original offer!
    The guitar was later refinished, refretted, added a new bone nut, got original vintage pieces for the Vibrola's missing parts and added a Schroeder wrap-around aluminum bridge (better intonation).

    This guitar can be heard in Fantasia Impromptu, the intro of Amurabi Code, the second solo on Cycles, the first solo on Cold Inside, the first solo in The Last Immigrant, and many rhythm parts on my recordings (see link below).
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    jdel77, Jdstrat, soulohio and 10 others like this.
  4. nmiller

    nmiller Drowning in lap steels Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    5,562
    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Location:
    Rocky Hill, CT
    I'm an aficionado of Vega instruments - guitars, banjos, mandolins, steels, amps... you name it. A couple of years ago, I saw this tenor guitar come up for sale; I knew instantly that it was quite different from any officially catalogued model, so I jumped on it. It was worn, but structurally sound and it played well. Plus, the price was right. Nothing cooler than a vintage prototype, right? I figured that I'd never track down any information on it. The old records from the original Vega company have been lost since they were bought by Martin in 1970, so all I have to go on are old catalogs and ads - not the kind of place you'd expect to find information on prototypes.

    Except... I eventually did dig something up. About 9 months after I bought the guitar, I found a picture of this exact guitar in a Vega brochure, with a promotional picture of a group called Bando da Lua. The group (whose name means "Band of the Moon" in Portuguese) was a popular Brazilian band in the 1930s through the 1950s known for their vocal harmonies. The lineup shifted over the years, but the group usually featured a tenor guitarist as well as a 6-string guitarist. The two musicians sometimes sported matching instruments, and they seem to have purchased matching custom Vegas around 1949. They affixed matching quarter-moon marks (I’m guessing they were stickers) to the tops of these guitars, as they had done with previous instruments. The moon shape in the picture is identical to the size and position of the mark on my guitar - it has to be the same instrument.

    By the late 1940s, Bando da Lua were closely associated with singer Carmen Miranda, accompanying her in the studio and in a number of films produced in the US. A 1950 Vega brochure showed a photograph of Bando da Lua with Carmen Miranda taken to promote the film Nancy Goes to Rio, released that year. In the photograph, both my tenor and its matching 6-string sibling can clearly be seen. Both guitars are also clearly visible in two scenes from that film.

    So, it turns out that this guitar is a piece of Hollywood memorabilia as well as a great instrument. Someone probably removed the moon sticker years ago, but thanks to its imprint in the finish, the guitar can still be positively identified.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  5. django49

    django49 Member

    Messages:
    1,584
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2011
    Location:
    Washington State
    Late 60s, I got an early copy of a big sale at a music store. They were selling a Gibson ES-330 for $130....Red, OHSC, the whole thing. I CALLED them to try to buy it, knowing I could not be at the store when it started. "Sorry, we cannot do that".

    Flash forward 3 weeks and there was an ad in the paper......Kid that bought it changed his mind, lost his job or something. Anyway, I sprinted over and grabbed it for a flat $100.
    Who knew from vintage back then?
     
    EBW, tealsixtysix, DBBlues and 2 others like this.
  6. django49

    django49 Member

    Messages:
    1,584
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2011
    Location:
    Washington State
    1969.....Long before the world was on to vintage instruments. Other than maybe folks like Norm.....I placed an ad in the local paper for a WTB a good electric guitar. Came home one Sunday evening and found a note from my mother......."Someone called and wants to know if you would like a 'Lef Pall' guitar". (I may still have her note!) Ended up being the original owner of a '56 Goldtop. Later that night I was the proud second owner at a "very reasonable" price.
     
    Ghast, EBW, tealsixtysix and 8 others like this.
  7. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,742
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2006

    Sometimes it scares me when I remember times like that...
    I shutter at the thought of all the stuff I had then sold/traded/gave away etc.. that people would damn near kill for today..

    57 3 pickup black beauty 40 bucks in a pawn shop, 56 L5
    250 bucks, 61 330 150 bucks, passed on a 56 goldtop.. too much they wanted 300.

    Ahhh those were the daze eh.
     
    lousyatit, DBBlues, massacre and 2 others like this.
  8. willie k

    willie k Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,307
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2009
    Location:
    Roswell, GA
    A client rep had an old guitar that he played in a band for years. It looked like a 335...sort of. It said Gibson, but the crown inlay looked off. The guitar was painted with thick white automotive paint, even oversprayed into the F holes. The jack had been relocated to the side of the lower bought. This was around 2004. I had a 2002 PRS McCarty, whale blue, one piece top (not 10 top), wide fat neck. Played great, but I didn't love it. He did, however, and wanted to trade. He was not ignorant to the idea his guitar MIGHT be special. I ended up trading my PRS and a Digidesign 002 interface and walked away.

    I sent the guitar to Lay's Guitar. They were able to remove the white paint, and in the process uncovered the serial number AND intact orange label inside. (How they did that I have no idea.) Turns out to be an early 1963 ES-335 with one pat# sticker pup and one no sticker pup, original wiring, pots, etc. The ugly part (and reason for the thick white paint) became apparent: a previous owner named Leonard had carved his name in large block letters along the bass side upper bought. Ugh... the guitar had originally been cherry, but due to Leonard's personalization the guitar could not be returned to its cherry goodness. Dan filled the letters, corrected the jack location, then applied a natural finish to "hide its sins of the past", then applied a tobacco sunburst finish over that. The guitar came out spectacular even if not as translucent as one might want. It almost feels alive. Pretty good trade, even after I had to put some money into it.

    [/GALLERY]
    Edit: I decided to leave the Grovers on it because I kind of like them.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
  9. RickC

    RickC Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    6,738
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2005
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Back about 12 years ago we were doing a mini-tour of northern NH. On the drive between gigs we stopped off in a small town for breakfast (don't remember the name of the town), saw a local music store and hit it for a browse. There was nothing interesting - just the usual import stuff, beginners guitars, etc. On the way out the door I heard one of the clerks say to the other "did you show them the Gretsch?" Dead stop. Yeah, show us the Gretsch.

    Out from a back room it came. A gorgeous '67 Tennessean, very clean, all original. Not museum quality but a clean, solid player. Single cut, HiLo-Trons, painted f-holes, V-Bigsby. Binding was still intact, action was nice, played and sounded wonderful. A sweetheart. Original case too. How much, I asked. $1000. I wasn't up on my Gretsches but knew enough to know that was a *very* good price at the time. I had no cash or plastic, and had to literally beg one of the guitar players to spot me the money till we got back.

    I had always had an eye out for one of these and this was a great way to scratch that itch. But as it turns out it wasn't the love connection I thought it would be. I enjoyed it for a few years, then sold it to help fund my son's hockey team trip to Italy. A win win.

    /rick
     
  10. Sampler

    Sampler Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    231
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I've had a couple of interesting experiences..

    1. I bought a 1959 Stratocaster off of the janitor at work. He noticed a picture of one in my cube at work and said "I have a guitar just like that...my father bought it off the milkman in 1960". I told him to bring it on in. Tweed case, slab board, 100% original and untouched. He threw in the 1969 Super Reverb for an additional $50. Sold the guitar. Still have the amp.

    2. I bought a near mint 1960 brown Fender Super through a Craig's List ad...the guy lived in a RV at a Trailways bus depot about :45 from my house. Center volume, tweed grill, serial number 0078...it had spent most of its life on the alter of a local church as a PA!
     
    jdel77, apalazzolo, EBW and 8 others like this.
  11. jonnytexas

    jonnytexas Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,148
    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2014
    Location:
    Houston
    How much did you get for it?
     
  12. ggwwbb

    ggwwbb Member

    Messages:
    4,320
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Claremore, Oklahoma
    A couple of years ago a drummer I was playing with asked if I knew much about old guitars cause he had an old, weird acoustic that his in-laws had found in the attic of an old house that they bought to rent out. So he pulls out a beat up old case that had a Weissenborn-style lap steel in it. No name, no markings and it appeared to be somewhat crude, but oddly had some intricate details. Overall, it was in pretty good shape except the tuners, which were pretty beat up and wouldn't hold tune.

    I knew it was old, but didn't know much else about it so sent some pics to a friend who is a vintage collector and knows some vintage experts, especially in acoustic instruments. My drummer friend had no ties to it and told me that if my friend wanted it, he'd gladly sell it to him. They worked out a deal and I packed it and shipped it to my friend.

    A couple of weeks later my friend calls me with news that research done by him and his expert friend conclude that it is a Weissenborn that was almost certainly a prototype of some sort built by Hermann Weissenborn. My friend had it put in playable condition (minor cleaning and new tuners-but kept the original ones) and sent me some videos of it. It sounds incredible.

    In the very early nineties I sent off for an Angela Instruments catalog. I wasn't really looking for anything in particular, but did notice on the clearance page that they were advertising vintage EH Big Muffs for $25 each. The ad stated that they get an order, they reach in the box of Big Muffs, randomly grab one, pack it up, and ship it to you. I had just recently gotten into Mudhoney via their "Superfuzz/Big Muff" record, so I had to have one. As luck would have it, the one they happened to grab and ship to me was an early, triangle knob version in excellent shape. I used it occasionally over the years, but mostly it sat around. I ended up selling it about 10 years ago for quite a bit more than my $25 investment...
     
  13. treeofpain

    treeofpain Supporting Member

    Messages:
    6,264
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2007
    Location:
    Columbia, SC
    Lots of cool deals over the years. The one that comes to mind was at a local flea market in the 90's. Started walking by a book vendor, then saw a bass sitting on one of the stacks of books.

    "How much?"

    "Ten bucks,"

    "Sold."

    It was an all original 1968 Fender Telecaster Bass.
     
  14. RickC

    RickC Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    6,738
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2005
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I've got a few of these; here's another.

    Back in the 80's I was working for a well known (at the time, no longer around) high tech firm. One of the things we did was networks; architecture, hardware, and software. At the time we had a private network that connected every terminal in the company (no PCs or laptops back then, just dumb terminals hooked up to a mainframe). Basically, we had the public Internet 10 years before the world had it. The company was 130,000+ employees worldwide so it was a pretty big online community. And we had it all - flame wars, people saying things to someone else online that they'd never say to their face, people wasting all their time at work on the net. 10 years before and so we saw it all coming when it did. But I digress...

    One of the things we had was an online guitar bulletin board. Something very much like TGP but of course much clunkier. And it had an emporium, very much like this one. And every day, there'd be tasty morsels for sale to drool and dream about. I've been doing that every day, pretty much non-stop, for 30+ years now. Ain't life grand. But I digress...

    One morning I saw a post in the For Sale thread - something like "Old Les Paul, yellow, $550". I emailed him right away (yeah we had email back then too); he said it was "mustard yellow". It had dot markers on the neck. It had black pickups. And it definitely was a Gibson. He had it there at work, in his office. His site was about 20 minutes drive from mine so I headed out over lunch to check it out, stopping at an ATM on the way (Boy Scout's motto - Be Prepared). Yeah, it was all that. An original '57 LP Special in TV yellow. Everything original, intact, and right. It had some wear and checking, but nothing unexpected; probably VG or VG+ on the vintage grade scale. And it played as good as you'd ever want one of these to. I told him the guitar was probably worth a lot more than he was asking. Didn't care, just looking for a quick sale, glad to let it go. I paid the man and left.

    I played that guitar for a few years, then traded it to a friend straight up for a '54 Black Beauty. Killer guitar.

    I played that one for a few years, then traded it to another friend (this one a vintage dealer) straight up for a '59 Strat. Another killer guitar.

    I played that one for a few years, then sold it (through my dealer friend) to a rock star from Italy. I was told, but have never confirmed, that Fender made a small run signature model for him based on that guitar.

    So all in all, it was a pretty nice chain of events from that simple online ad one bright and sunny morning. Wouldn't mind having all those guitars back :bonk

    /rick
     
  15. Pinstripe

    Pinstripe Member

    Messages:
    205
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2009
    2016. I posted a picture of a mint '60 blonde 335 I have on what I thought was a general Facebook 335 blog. Turns out it was a Gibson blog, and they took it up as their guitar of the month on all their sites. Every time somebody looked at the picture it took them to my home page. It got something like 15,000 visits and 5,000 likes. Anyway, a lady contacts me via Facebook messages to say she has one just like it. "Oh" think me, it's probably an 83 reissue. Anyway, I help her out with as much information as I have and, sure enough, after exchanging photos etc it turns out she inherited her late father's Dec '58 blonde dot.

    This isn't just "any" blonde dot, it has a very figured blister top and an equally figured flame back..............plus every single hang tag imaginable, original sales receipt from Dec 59, strap, lead....even the adjustment screwdriver. It was matched with a clean 5E3 Deluxe. She even dug out a picture of her father with the guitar and amp.

    She knew roughly what the guitar was worth, but hadn't sold it before because the dealers she'd talked to "didn't seem straight". We agreed a price and I flew from London to LA, drove down the coast road and met the family. A quick trip to the bank and the guitar was mine. Driving back to LA that night with the sun going down over the Pacific and I realised I'd found vintage guitar safari Nirvana. Doubt it would ever happen again (it did, but that's another story).

    It's by far the best sounding and playing 335 I've got of the many I've had, and it'll stay with me for the duration.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Jim Fisher

    Jim Fisher Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    969
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    Fallston, MD
    I've told this one before! Back around 1966 walked into a Baltimore pawn shop and bought an early '54 Black Beauty LP. The guy wanted $150 but all I had was my paycheck for about $93. He accepted that for te guitar but I had to come back and pay another $15 for the case. Played that sucker for many years and sold it for peanuts about 1975.

    Jim

    [​IMG]
     
  17. tealsixtysix

    tealsixtysix Supporting Member

    Messages:
    525
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2015
    There's two parts to this story.

    January 1986. I was a freshman in college. I had been playing an MIJ Squier Bullet and it was time to upgrade. I went to NYC on winter break with a friend (a very good guitarist) to find a Strat. This particular moment in history was after CBS had sold Fender, but a year-plus before American Standards started showing up at dealers. Unless you wanted to pay $1400 for a AVRI, the only "new" Fenders at that moment were MIJ. I wanted a US Strat -- really, I wanted a big-headstock '70s Strat.

    We spent a good two hours at We Buy Guitars on 48 St (RIP) playing every Strat they had (and a few other things, including an oiled-neck Charvel). Given price and feel and what I thought I wanted, it came down to two choices: A nice clean 25th Anniversary Strat, or (for slightly less money) a black '78 that had been fitted with a Floyd Rose and a JB-4 in the bridge.

    I was 19 and stupid. I bought the '78 after confirming that the original bridge pickup was in the case. But it took me a good long time to decide -- the Anniversary felt just right.

    I still have that '78. After a lot of work (and a lot of gigs, back in the day), it has become a great guitar. But I have spent a fair bit of time regretting the decision over the years.

    Fast forward thirty years to part two.

    August of 2016. I'm in NY visiting friends. We wander into the Guitar Center on 14th, which unlike most suburban GCs has a back room with high-dollar and vintage gear. Among other things, they have THREE 25th Anniversary Strats. One is MINT MINT MINT, one has some play wear and a later AVRI-style bridge... and the third is a gigged-to-hell-and-back junkyard dog with a ridiculous sloppy neck pocket, nicotine stains (and a few actual cigarette burns), refretted with jumbos, pitted tuners, etc., etc.

    I played all three, just out of curiosity. Those who have deep experience with old Fenders will probably not be surprised to hear that the dog was far and way the best of the three. It was a fantastic player, with a worn neck that fit my hand perfectly. I spent the next hour and a half playing it, blues stuff, just sitting there plugged into a Supro amp, vaguely aware that a few people had wandered into the room just to sit and listen. It wasn't like my other Strats -- it had a big honking voice that absolutely *belted*, thanks I guess to those original un-potted 1979 pickups mounted in 10 pounds of old wood. Unplugged, it had that vintage-Fender resonance we all love... not common with these encased-in-polyester 70s guitars. (The other two didn't have it. The mint mint one was sonically dead, as far as I could tell.)

    It wanted to come home with me, bad. Real bad. Like a lost puppy that found a much-needed friend, that kind of bad. I did NOT need another Strat -- I was looking for a Tele.

    But I bought it. Here it is on the floor of my friend's apartment shortly after.

    [​IMG]

    It turned out that the pickups were original, the pots had been replaced in the 1990s, and the bridge was an oddity -- off a Tokai, maybe. A year later, it's got a correct late '70s bridge, I've managed to polish off most of the nicotine stains, and I replaced the trashed original Sperzel tuners with new ones. It'll never be pretty and I don't care.

    I like to think it's the same guitar from 30 years ago.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
  18. yucatown

    yucatown Theory-free noodling enthusiast Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    2,663
    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    Location:
    Tampa, FL
    No stories from me, bu
    Amazing story and axe.
     
    lousyatit likes this.
  19. captaincanada

    captaincanada Member

    Messages:
    280
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2009
    Location:
    Knoxville TN
    My mid 60s Leslie 145 was found abandoned by the curb in Florida!

    My wife and I were on vacation in Florida, driving through a neighborhood on our way to the grocery store and passed by a house with a bunch of trash and furniture out by the street. I spotted the Leslie and slammed on the brakes and backed up.. got out and walked up to the house.. it was empty with a realtors lock box on the door knob. The Leslie still had a $2 yard sale price tag stuck on the top! Luckily we were driving my then brand-new Honda Element and we loaded that sucker up!

    Still use it all the time..

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  20. lousyatit

    lousyatit Supporting Member

    Messages:
    2,097
    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2005
    Location:
    South Carolina
    This is how I came to buy the Les Paul that is featured in my avatar. I have two very dear friends that are brothers, they reside in the Greenville, S.C. area. Joe is a drummer and Pete plays bass and they are a monster rhythm section. They both know enough about guitars to be dangerous. Sometime in 1983, spring I think, I get this telephone call from Joe asking me about a guitar. He was in an outside sales job and would also hit pawn shops and such, looking for goodies. Well he had checked one of his favorite spots, a pawn shop in Anderson, S.C. that was owned by some old boy that Joe liked. Joe had stopped in to bs with the owner and after killing some time he asked him if he had anything good in the back. The owner replied that he didn't think so, but he did have one that just came off pawn that Joe might like. He goes in the back and when he returns he's carrying an old beat up brown case. He puts it on the counter and opens the case. Joe looks it over and plinks on it for a minute. The pawn broker asks Joe if he knows how old it is. Joe's honest reply is that he doesn't know. What he doesn't disclose is what he suspects. In any event, the owner asks Joe if he likes it. Joe says yes and asks the old fella what he wants for it. The owner looks it up in the pawn book and asks Joe..." How about $400.00? ". Joe agrees and heads off to the bank to get the money. He cuts his brother in for $200.00, goes back and buys the guitar. He then heads home and calls me. He gives me the background and then he tells me that he suspects that the guitar is actually a late 50's Sunburst Les Paul. So I ask him to describe the case and he says "...brown with a pink lining ...". Then I ask if it has soap bars, and he replies that it has humbuckers and my blood pressure starts to rise. So then I ask him to flip it over and look at the serial number. I ask him to tell me if the number is pressed into the wood. He says, " No, it's stamped in ink." (By this point I'm about to have a fit.) My next question is, how many digits? " Five." I asked if there was a space anywhere in the number. "Yes between the first and second digits." I blurted out, " READ ME THE ****ING NUMBER!" "9 0919" is the reply. Well I started yelling into the phone, " YOU SON OF A BITCH, IT'S A '59." Well, here is where it gets surreal. Joe tells me that he has discussed it with Pete and that they want me to have (buy) the guitar. I told him that I was on the way. I was at my parents house, so I told my Mom where I was going. I went and picked up my girlfriend and drove four hours to Greenville. When we arrived, Joe and his wife were about to have dinner. She told us that we were just in time and asked us to join them. I replied that I would, but I JUST HAD TO SEE THIS GUITAR FIRST. I will never forget walking into the room and seeing the case laying on it's back on the floor and kneeling down to open the case and seeing it for the first time. I just kept repeating, it's real, over and over. They sold it to me for $800.00 and let me take it with the promise that I would send a cashiers check to settle the debt. I still have a copy of that check in the case.
     
    cycler, 56Tweed, bdm and 54 others like this.

Share This Page