News From The Pit

This Old Guitar
By Jimmy Brown

Hi everyone. So here we are; a new year, decade, century, etc., and I am hoping I can continue to keep you informed as to the state of the old guitar. Wow, it is hard to believe that 1980 was 20 years ago! It used to be that a 20-year old guitar was considered a vintage guitar, but somehow, the term '1980' just doesn't have the same ring to it. In the upcoming year, we will look into such a phenomenon, and perhaps examine some other trends in the vintage guitar world.

Now, back to the present. My good buddy Greg Martin, guitarist supreme with the Ky. Headhunters, dropped by the other day to look at the '51 Esquire we got last month down in Odessa, Texas. We got to talking about guitar safaris and he reminded me of a trip we took that I had pretty much forgotten about. Anyway, if you have ever been on the hunt for something, like going to a flea market, yard sale, answering an ad, getting a tip on it, and you went after it, with that sense of excitement, then you will relate to this. It centers on the age-old saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure." So, let's set the Wayback machine to 1980, I believe. (Oh, by the way, Greg, if you are reading this, forgive me if I do not remember all the details exactly. You know how these memories of ours start to fade!)

Anyway, Greg tells me about a man who owns a furniture store down in south central Kentucky: Beckley's Furniture Store, in Burkesville, Ky. (Just for the record, the actual name of the person and town have been changed, in order to protect their privacy.) But Greg tells me that the guy who runs this furniture store and is, or was, the local music store. Well, sounds interesting enough to me, so Greg and I hop in the car and take a trip on down there.

Two hours later finds us in the town square, sizing up Beckley's Furniture Store. You know, it's the kind of all-purpose store to meet all your household needs. Sofas, chairs, stoves, refrigerators, you name it, Mr. Beckley can fix you up with it. Now, in the somewhat darkened corner of the store hangs I do not exactly remember, something like ten to twenty Gibson guitars. Maybe a few other brands thrown in. Doesn't sound like much so far, but, get this, they are all brand-new 20-year-old guitars. Hanging from the rafters, still covered in the original plastic! A time capsule, mind you. Wow. If you are into old guitars, it is the kind of thing that takes your breath away. You stop, gather it in for a few seconds, and then come back to the here-and-now. So, there they were, a whole bunch of 1960 Gibson guitars: dot neck 335, Les Paul Junior, ES-330, Es-125, etc. Never been touched. For a number of years, Mr. Beckley had doubled as the local music store with the Gibson dealership, and a few other things, also.

As the years went by, I suppose the furniture needs in the area were far greater then the musical instrument needs, and these guitars were simply forgotten about. So, there we were, ready to talk to the man. Sounds simple enough, but au contraire,. Mr. Beckley is like a guy running a three-ring circus in there. He has got several teenage boys in there that he is giving orders to. Kind of like "Eddy, take this chair down to Mrs. Smith's house, and hurry back." And "Johnny, you and Curtis get this stove over to Mrs. Henry and remember to bring me back one of her apple pies." And on and on.

Man, we could not get a word in edgewise. So we left, and sometime soon after I went back, determined to stop this guy long enough to just communicate with him. It took some doing, but I finally did get him to slow down, not stop, but at least let me talk to him. This nervous little wiry guy was not capable of coming to a complete stop, I believe. A nice man, he was just wound up pretty tight. It was almost comical, except for the treasure hanging from the rafters. Mr. Beckley was just so caught up with his stoves, refrigerators, and chairs, that he couldn't fathom that someone might actually be interested in buying these old guitars hanging in the corner. Well, in between the couch and chair, I bought the ES-335, and after the stove I got the Les Paul Junior, and just before the dining room set, we settled on the ES-330. And so on.

He had the absolutely best examples of these instruments in existence. Did he know, did he care? Probably not. To him, Greg and I were probably just getting in his way, even though we were willing to completely buy him out, and he wouldn't even have to deliver. We were there on a cash and carry basis, you might say. Like I said, as the saying goes, one man's trash is another man's treasure. True bona fide vintage guitars. Cream of the crop. Still wrapped in plastic. Untouched. Forgotten about. I do not anticipate stumbling on to something like that ever again.

And to Greg, thanks for reminding me of that unique experience. So, you never know. Someday you might happen upon a similar Mr. Beckley. And if you do, be patient. He'll get around to you, eventually.

So I guess that's all for now. Until next time,

Keep Rockin'