The Halloween Post

This guy isn't half as scary as some of the stuff that happened to me this year. And he plays a 345. But it's from the 70's which were plenty scary.

Halloween is supposed to be about scary stuff and I think I had my share of it this year. Buying guitars sight unseen and having the gorillas from Fedex ship them is about as scary as it gets around here. Let’s take a look at what scared me this year. I bought a 64 ES-335 that was supposed to be “oversprayed” on the front with clear lacquer. It had red in the f-holes and on the pot shafts and was clearly totally refinished on the front-and I paid top dollar for it. The guy wouldn’t take it back (name on request). Just be careful when you buy from ” a guy in Santa Fe”. I got hosed on it because I sold it (as it should have been sold in the first place) as a refinish. I bought another 64 from a guy in San Luis Obispo, California and I had my doubts about whether he was legit. So, I asked for the “hostage” photo-you know the shot of the guitar with todays headline in the picture?  He sent that. I asked for what amounted to an “in hand” description over the phone and he gave me a convincing speech (with a guitar in his hands). So, I sent him a wire for many thousands of dollars. No guitar. It turns out the guitar was in a music store in his town and he was getting the photos from the owner of the music store-posing as a buyer. He probably got the text for his “in hand” description from him too. There is currently a warrant out for his arrest. I don’t take kindly to being robbed. Then, of course there was Fedex breaking the SG. But there is always little stuff as well. A bridge that’s supposed to be original that says “Japan” on the bottom, the trem arm that’s supposed to be in the case that isn’t, the missing screws, the repro guards, the undisclosed cracks and the splices in the pickup wires. All those things happened to me this year (and a lot more). I was compensated for many of these things but not all. The key thing is that most sellers are describing their guitar “to the best of their knowledge” even though they make blanket statements like “100% original”. In most cases, the intent is not to cheat but its simply that they don’t know (which has a lot to do with why I write this). There was an elderly gentleman in North Carolina from whom I bought a ’60 ES-345 that he owned since new. He was a gospel and blues player all his life and played the heck out of the thing. A few years ago, he told me, the tuners started slipping and were swapped out for him by a “friend”. But either the “friend” or an unscrupulous repair shop decided to swap out the PAFs for DiMarzios as well without telling the owner, so he thought they were original. He compensated me for them but nobody compensated him for his thieving friend. That’s scary too. None of this stops me from doing what I do, however. It’s just part of the cost of doing business and I expect to have these problems fairly regularly. I just would like to have them less regularly. Finally, in the spirit of the season, did you ever wonder what kind of guitar Dracula played? I was sent this photo by a reader who showed that Dracula has the good sense to play a 345 .  It seems to be missing it’s neck binding. Maybe he bit it and it fell off.

2 Responses to “The Halloween Post”

  1. Peter says:


    It pained me to read your latest post–in part because last for you was truly a concatenation of bad circumstances, in part because it’s so often tempting not to dive into a market, as a seller or a buyer, when there are so many dishonest or shady characters trying to ply it. As you’ll recall, I was the guy who ended up with the refinned 335. I can imagine how ambivalent you feel about THAT one. It’s worth saying, and I’m sure all your customers will join me in this, that you are a truly special dealer in a sea of folks who shade the truth or much, much worse. We’re so lucky to have you around!


  2. OK Guitars says:

    Hey Peter, I appreciate your kind words-especially from a buyer who returned the first guitar he got from me. The good news is that even with the refinished top, that guitar kicks some serious butt. One of the stranger aspects of vintage guitars is the whole finish thing. In vintage cars, a refinish doesn’t seem to diminish the value (although I’m no expert) but in vintage guitars, it cuts it by 25-50%. The other good news is that more aficionados are coming around to the idea that a good refinish really shouldn’t do that. With the ultra high end refinishers out there doing work beyond what Gibson has ever been done, the stigma of the “refin” has diminished. The old conventional wisdom was that refinished guitars didn’t sound as good as the originals and that is just so much BS. The best sounding 335 I’ve had this year was a fully refinished 62 dot neck. Yours was right behind it in tone. I understand the nitro/poly thing but to say there’s a tonal difference between a 20 year old nitro refinish and the original finish is batshit. An original will always be worth more, no doubt about it, but the perception that an original sounds or plays better is going away and that’s a good thing. And finally, Professor, I have never, ever used the “concatenation” in a sentence by I fully intend to do so in the near future. As soon as I figure out what it means:)

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