Another Road Trip, Part Two


No rash, no scratches and a very attractive sunburst. Cool guitar played by a guy with nine inch nails.

I don’t even get to the table when the guy with the guitar case and the ever present friend (just in case I’m the one with the gun, I guess) walk in. I’m pretty sure they were in the parking lot when I got there and were just waiting for the guy with the Yankee hat to go in. It’s a nasty world out there and you can’t be too careful. Yankee fans can be dangerous, I hear. I head to a table and wave them over and a few handshakes later, everybody seems calm and ready to close the deal. The owner, a self described “hillbilly” has already launched into his pitch. He has a drawl that speaks perhaps of a more Southern upbringing. “Bought this git-tar in 2001 from a farmer who bought it from another guy who was the original owner. I haven’t played it much.” I opened the case and it looked pretty good. And out come the screwdriver, magnifier and flashlight and I start pulling the pickups and loosening the strings. “Not yer first rodeo, is it…the friend says.” “Nope”, I says.  The pickups checked out, there were no extra holes anywhere, the ABR-1 was the correct era and the neck was a bit  flat but the truss was tight, so I know it would come back to a little relief. Generally, the monetary end of the deal is made before either of us show up -made with the stipulation that if anything isn’t as described, the deal could be undone. I once drove 5 hours to New Hampshire and turned around and drove home empty handed because the guitar was a refinish. I don’t like to start negotiating at this point but there was one issue that concerned me and it was an unusual situation. The fingerboard was pretty rutted at the first few frets but there was virtually no fret wear.  Who played this guitar? Freddy Krueger? Edward Scissorhands?  How do you rut a board like that and not put any wear on the frets-which were absolutely without a doubt, original. The ruts don’t really affect the playability, they’re just unsightly. I’m going to guess the farmer never trimmed his nails and played a lot of cowboy chords. Sometimes, asking for a few hundred dollars off the negotiated price for an issue like this just doesn’t make sense. I’m sure I could have gotten the guitar for less but I was also sure it was still a good deal as is.  Folks appreciate a man of his word. Would I perhaps have to price it a couple hundred less due to the ruts or pay to have them repaired? Probably but here’s the thing. People are appreciative when a deal goes exactly as planned. Everybody’s happy and you shake hands and walk away new friends-promising to stay in touch if something cool comes along. Guitar people are tuned into the guitars in their communities and sometimes can be a big help. Once the payment was made, my new friend said, “ya know, I know a guy who has a 58 Les Paul. He just went into a nursing home and his sons have it now and don’t know what to do with it.  He’s also got a 55 goldtop.” I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have known this if I had decided to try to knock off a few hundred for the ruts. Maybe something will come of it and maybe not. But this is why a dealer acts honorably and reasonably. The guitar world is a very small place. After half an hour, we drained our coffees, shook hands and were on our ways back home. I  had a few hours to kill, so I had another conversation with the  disembodied voice in the Fiesta-telling her about my experience. “Please speak a command” she said. “I command you to listen and not talk,  and give me a foot massage, while you’re at it,” I said. On the way back to O’Hare, I stopped at the offices of Gelber Group in downtown Chicago,  the financial services firm owned by my little brother where 3 other brothers work as well and had a nice visit with brothers Brian, Frank, Mike and Bob.  They made a lot more money than I did that day but I’m guessing they didn’t have nearly as much fun. I got back to O’Hare in plenty of time to start my my begging, pleading and cajoling to get them to let me take the guitar on the plane. A few hours in the cargo hold is not good for an unchecked guitar. It can get pretty cold in there. Fortunately, they were very nice about it and let me carry it on and didn’t even charge me the $45 bag fee. So, a tip of the Yankee hat to Spirit Airlines. No frills but no surprises either. Sixteen hours after leaving my house, I was back home with a “new” 64 ES-335. I spent an hour on setup and adjustment and restrung it and went to bed. Sixteen hours later, it was sold.  I never even got to photograph it. Turned out to be an awesome player with a perfect neck angle. I did get back one of my favorite SGs ever in trade though.

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