What’s In the Case Pocket?


Everyone has seen the usual paperwork and keys and stuff (yes, that's the red 59 ES-345) but there's sometimes other stuff in there as well.

I usually include the case candy and miscellaneous crap with a guitar when I sell it . Most of this stuff is from guitars in my own closet. I have a shoebox full of crap like this.

There are two things I love about getting a “new” vintage guitar. One is checking out the bobbins on the pickups-there’s nothing like an “undisclosed” double white or zebra. It happens more often than you would expect. It’s a little like winning the lottery (albeit a rather small one).  The other thing I love is checking out the case pocket. Let’s see what’s in there…Along with the really obvious stuff like the instruction manual, the pickup height adjustment instructions, the Varitone instructions (345s and stereo 355s), the ABR-1 instruction sheet, there were a few other Gibson  items as well that  generally got lost. There was almost always a leather strap-usually brown and sometimes stamped with the name of the music store. It was never a very good strap but we all seemed to use them at least until we had a little extra money saved to buy something hipper. There was also a polishing cloth which either never got used or got used to death. You know the guy in your band who would let anybody even breathe on his guitar who always wiped it down between sets (and even between songs) and then had a fit when he got a ding in the headstock from a cymbal or stand and then blamed it on you? He’s the guy who used the cloth. The rest of us left it in its little bag in the case. Then there’s the little yellow screwdriver with the pocket clip. These usually got lost in the first week or so but I’ve managed to accumulate 3 or 4 of them. Case keys in the little yellow manila envelope are always a welcome surprise but, alas, not a very frequent one. There must not have been a truss rod wrench because in all the years I’ve been buying these guitars I’ve never seen one in a case pocket. I have seen some pretty weird stuff. Strings-tons of ’em-often used. Who saves used strings? I’ve found banjo and mandolin strings (in a guitar case), set lists from all genres, original sales receipts, all manner of business cards from bars to cathouses to lawyers, Musicians Union manuals and time cards (especially from the late 50’s and early 60’s), photos of bands, wives, girlfriends, even a few “racy” photos that seem tame by today’s standards. Interestingly, given the period and the nature of musicians, I’ve never found any drugs in a guitar case. No pot stashed in the pickup cavity, no coke taped under the pickguard and no pills in the case pocket. I guess they all use them up before they sell the guitar or maybe the thing about musicians using drugs is just a big myth. The picks are always interesting-often from a local music store but sometimes imprinted with a band name. Fender picks seem to be the most ubiquitous. I’ve probably found at least 50 of them rattling around inside the guitars. I even found one stuck under the sideways vibrato that had actually reacted with the surface of the finish. You could see the big backwards Fender “F” and the word “medium” etched into the clear coat of the guitar. I once found half a dollar bill-probably some deal made with a woman in the audience that they’d meet in twenty years at the top of the Empire State Building each with their “half” dollar and something wonderful would happen (actually, I think that was a movie).  Dog toys. How do dog toys get in the case pocket? Maybe Alice knows.

This is Alice, my former wire fox terrier who liked to sleep in the case while I practiced and always brought a toy.

One Response to “What’s In the Case Pocket?”

  1. RAB says:

    Charlie, fun stuff…additionally I’ve found some Gibson promotional materials including a little plastic box that said “Gibson, Guitars of the Stars” on the lid. I showed it to Billy Stapelton years ago and he just had to have it!

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