News From The Pit

This Old Guitar
By Jimmy Brown

Happy Holidays everyone. By now, the presents have been opened, you've put on a few pounds, and thoughts are turning to your New Year's resolutions. Personally, my resolutions rarely make it through the first day. So you may ask, "what's this got to do with this old guitar"? Frankly speaking, nothing. But what the heck. Christmas comes but once a year.

Now, in keeping with our theme over the past few issues about the lengths people sometimes go to in finding that "just right" old guitar, this month's story is more about the length yet gone to. We will set the wayback machine to just a while ago - summer before last. That little ol' band from Texas, ZZ Top was in town and the reverend Billy Gibbons stopped by to get one of his guitars worked on. It was one of Billy's custom-built guitars and therefore subject to its own set of particular quirks and nuances; but leave it to our head repairman Bill Barney to make it right.

Now on with the story. Since Gibbons had some time to kill waiting for his guitar to be repaired, he happened to stumble over one of our Danelectro Silvertone guitars. You know the ones: the Masonite guitars with lipstick tubes for pickups and the amp built into the case.

The man who designed these, Nathan Daniel (madman or genius?), was the guitar's answer to Henry Ford. Anybody could afford one, and every neighborhood had at least one. Well, over the years we seem to constantly stumble over them at our shop. But this particular day Billy Gibbons caught sight of one that had some sort of prehistoric-looking repair and modifications done to it, and the reverend, whose mind never shuts down, got another idea for a new cheap guitar.

Remember, this is a guy who has played with cows on stage, hot rods, guitars with televisions, furry guitars, you name it. So, he's thinking, and I'm wondering - just where is this about to go? Please, just don't ask us to have this reptile Dano ready to rock by showtime tonight. Well, fortunately, his muddy Mississippi snake guitar that Bill repaired would do just fine for the night's performance. But he set me and my buddy Ricky Feather of Bodeco to the task of designing a Danelectro Silvertone guitar, with matching bass (can't forget about Dusty), to be inspired by the one hanging up in the nether regions of our shop.

Now, this may sound simple enough, but just how do you come up with something for somebody like Billy Gibbons? If nothing else, it has given Ricky and me a chance to stretch our minds out a little bit. Should it be a Big Daddy Roth inspired, hotrod killin' machine? Or what about ZZ Top meets Simba the Lion King, with a leopard skin and fang tooth encrusted motif. Billy vs. Godzilla.

You get the picture. So far all, we've done is experiment on a couple for ourselves, which coincidentally came from Ricky being inspired by the Tarzan-like theme of that night's ZZ Top show. So on it goes, one inspires the other inspires the other, and on and on. Someday, maybe someday, we'll get around to these Danos, the Model T of guitars, and perhaps put it all together.

But then again, don't anybody hold their breath.

Until next time, keep rockin'