News From The Pit

This Old Guitar
By Jimmy Brown

Greetings everyone. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. By now I hope we are over our turkey hangovers and looking forward to another round of eating and merriment.

In keeping with the theme of this article over the past few months, I am going to tell a story about the length some people go through in the quest for that old guitar. I was hoping to make it a Christmas story, but as close as I could get this time was a red guitar, and I do believe it was in December.

A few years back, AC/DC was playing at Rupp Arena in Lexington. As is often the case, touring bands, especially those that don't hail from the U.S.A., will call upon shops that specialize in vintage guitars while they are on tour, looking for that right instrument, or in this case, a good backup to what they already have. So, I got a call from the AC/DC camp, and they were looking for a vintage cherry red Gibson SG Standard, one that would be a good second guitar for Angus Young. (What with the way he goes at it, you never know when he or his gear might explode.)

Well, we did happen to have a fairly nice mid 60's SG Standard, so I rushed it down to Lexington, along with a few other guitars. By the time I arrived, and got to where I needed to be, it was getting close to show time. Now, backstage at such an event is anything but relaxed. There is quite a bit of electricity in the air. Excitement and anxiety kind of meld together, especially with the buzz of 20,000 fans just on the other side. But anyway, the guys were very nice, the guitar technicians were making their last minute adjustments, Angus was checking out the guitars I brought, and little did we know, but he was about to rock the concert hall, the guitar tech and myself.

For no sooner did we get this SG restrung than Angus strapped it on, got a feel for it, and it was Show Time! The lights flashed, Angus flew on stage, and all hell broke loose - figuratively speaking. Now, I am not that familiar with AC/DC, but let me tell you, they do know how to put on a show.

Neither I nor the guitar tech were quite prepared. We go through lots of vintage guitars at our shop, and quite frankly, I am sure that some things get overlooked. We try and make sure that it is ready to go, at least before you run on stage in front of 20,000 screaming people. The guitar tech felt as I did. Shocked and very nervous. It was kind of like test driving that classic used car at the Indy Motor Speedway. It could be really great, or it could be really ugly.

But obviously Angus must have liked it right away, and I guess It's things like that that keep live entertainment exciting, or nerve-wracking, depending upon your particular place at that time.

Well, anyway, Angus played that SG for a few tunes, and then switched to another one, and everything was fine. They rocked the house, and my nerves and eardrums, too.

And so all's well that ends well. He wanted that SG, and he wanted to make sure, right then and there. So, paying me to rush from Louisville, putting his guitar tech through the mill somewhat, and taking chances with reckless abandon I guess are just all part of a day's work.

After the show Angus Young asked me if I would take a check for the guitar, and I said "Hells Bells!, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap." No, not really. But seriously, they did ask me if I would take a check, and without hesitation, I said "Of course," for after witnessing their show, I had been pretty much stripped of all sense, and who was I to blow against the wind. I am just really glad that guitar worked.

Well, I guess that's all for now. Once again, my holiday wishes to all. So until next time, Keep Rockin'.

Jimmy Brown owns the Guitar Emporium, a vintage instrument store in Louisville. He also plays bass with Bodeco.