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A Few of My Favorite Things

Nope. No raindrops on roses. No whiskers on kittens. I could go on…

I get asked all the time what guitars are in my “collection” and I usually simply explain that I’m not a collector. If one is to be a successful dealer (and this is, after all, my full time job), you need to follow a couple of simple rules. Buy low and sell high is the first one. The second is “don’t fall in love”. I get a lot of wonderful guitars. I have had spectacularly good luck in finding the rarest and the most unusual ES guitars out there. A few come to mind-the blonde 59 355 mono, the red 59 335’s, the black 59 345’s, the blonde 63 block neck, the white 355 and one of the very first guitars I sold as an “official” dealer, the blue Trini. I would have kept every last one of them had I been a collector. I hate to see them go but I love to see them go because they always end up in the hands of someone who will be their caretaker until they are passed along to the next owner. But I do have my personal players that could be construed as a collection. There are five of them. Only one is a 335.

Anybody have a long guard they don’t need? The top of this guitar is the back of an EB-2 as are the sides. The back is new as is the neck. This is my current player but I’m not particularly attached to it.

I always keep a player 335 (or 345 or 355). It’s almost always a “three legged dog” of some sort…a guitar I can’t sell for one reason or another. My current 335 is a blonde 59. It started its life as an EB-2 bass. I bought it for $2000 and it was in four or five pieces. The glue had failed almost everywhere and the top was completely separated from the rim and the neck was off as well. I could have put it back together I suppose but instead I sent it to Ken McKay and he made a 335 out of it. How he did that is another post. It’s a great player with a nice set of PAFs and a custom shaped neck (a cross between a 59 and a 64). I’d probably sell it if I thought anyone would buy it and I’d simply replace it with another 335. Before that it was a blonde 59 345 that was just fabulous with a new neck and three filled holes in the top. I sold it after 5 years and I don’t regret having done so. The new owner seems very happy with it. And I will buy it back if he ever sells it.

I always keep a player 12 string for playing with friends and doing old Beatles tunes. This is 2005? Breedlove Classic XII. Great player and pretty cool looker too.

The “collection” is actually three other electrics and an acoustic 12 string. I play 12 string quite a lot with my sometime “band” doing only old Beatles tunes. I’m the 12 string player most of the time. It’s a 2000 something Breedlove Classic 12 made of ebony and it’s probably the best playing 12 string I’ve owned. I use a Rickenbacker 660 sometimes but I have no deep connection with it. It’s actually kind of a pain in the ass because it requires a truss rod adjustment every month or so. The electrics might surprise you. None are Gibsons but all are Gibsons. Here they are the “OK Guitars Collection”

Even these aren’t necessarily keepers. I look for better examples and periodically replace one with another. In fact both the Coronet and Crestwood are fairly recent acquisitions. These are, left to right, a 61 Wilshire, 62 Coronet and 62 Crestwood. I had an Embassy bass to go along with these but I sold it. These are killer players and the Wilshire is perhaps the best P90 guitar ever made. Total cost for all three was under $15000.

10 Responses to “A Few of My Favorite Things”

  1. RAB says:

    Charlie, thanks for sharing your personal collection. I loved the restoration you did on that blonde ‘59 345! You know me as another BIG Epiphone fan! In fact of my modest collection of 5 guitars (all gig players, I won’t own anything that isn’t) 2 are Epiphones. One is my ‘62 Riviera, the other a ‘64 Polaris White Wilshire. Of the 5 guitars the only one I wouldn’t sell is the Riv since it would be nearly impossible to replace. Gibson only made about 40 of these “short headstock” Rivs each year for 1962-63. So they are exceedingly rare…and mine plays and sounds great with stickered mini-PAFs! Stay safe and play yer git-tars! Roger

  2. RAB says:

    ‘62 Riviera…

  3. RAB says:

    Sorry, here’s the photo…

  4. RAB says:

    ‘64 Wilshire

  5. RAB says:

    Any other old Epi fans? (Either old fans of Epis or fans of old Epis, ha, ha!!)

  6. okguitars says:

    The Wilshire is my favorite although the Coronet is a great one as well. Crestwoods are cool guitars-mine has PAF minis which sound great but that Trem-O-Tone is such a piece of crap. It’s a terrible design and it de-tunes the guitar every time you touch it. At least with a sideways (also a terrible design) you can, if you’re patient, adjust it so it works without knocking the guitar out of tune but the T-O-T has no adjustments. They could install a mini switch on it that says “bad” in one direction and “worse” in the other. Keep your hands off and its a real good player. And, as a 335 guy, I do like a symmetrical guitar. What’s the nut width on the white Wilshire? I’ve never seen one with 1 11/16″. In fact, I went into Manny’s in NYC with my Dad in 1964 to buy a Crestwood. They brought out one in Inverness Green (which isn’t supposed to exist) and not only was it ugly but the nut was too narrow for me to play. So I got a Jaguar with a “C” neck. At least that’s what the guy at Manny’s told me when I asked for a guitar with a wide nut. I never checked it. You can see that Jag on my FB page. Looks like a “B” to me.

  7. RAB says:

    Charlie, I’ve tried work arounds on the Tremotone-equipped Epis Ive owned including a ‘62 Crestwood Custom and an uber rare ‘64 Crestwood Deluxe (3 mini buckers). I don’t use vibrato tailpieces for vibrato so I essentially tried to use the Tremotone as a fixed tailpiece. This can be effected by trying different stringing methods…measurement at the nut on the white Wilshire is a tad over 1 9/16”. However the neck is pretty beefy front to back at the first fret on up so it presents a good handful of Honduras Mahogany! Best, Roger

  8. RAB says:

    Here’s a pic of the ‘64 Wilshire’s neck and nut…

  9. Andy C says:

    That’s a beauty of a Riviera Roger. I’m a big fan of old Epis though I feel like word is decidedly out on their collectability- sheratons and rivs in good shape seem to go for the same or more as their 335 counterparts.

    I love the batwing solidbodies as well…happened to be reading Born to Run and found out Bruce played an epiphone olympic in his first band. not a bad start!

  10. RAB says:

    Thanks Andy! I’ve owned three short headstock Rivieras (two ‘62’s and one ‘63) and this is the nicest of the bunch. So it’s a keeper for sure! Perfect stickered mini-PAFs and a nice “Civil War” (as Charlie would say!) Blue and Grey hardshell case…I used the Riv to record 10/11 tunes on our band’s last CD thru a ‘64 non-reverb Princeton…

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