Archive for December, 2021

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas at OK Guitars

Monday, December 20th, 2021

If the pandemic ever ends and I reopen, it won’t be in my old caboose. The train car was sold and is being turned into a residence if the town approves it. If they don’t approve then maybe I’ll reopen right where I was for 6 years.

Sadly, my shop is currently closed. Pandemics and guitar shops do not coexist well so until this is over, the doors are closed. I’ll reopen when it makes sense to do so-probably in a different location but maybe not. This is the only post I ever re-run. I could try to write another Christmas poem but I know my limitations. My wife and I wrote this one while on vacation (remember vacations?) in Mexico in 2015 and have run it every year since at Christmas. Read on.

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the pad

I was playing my Gibson- not great, but not bad.

I remembered a blues lick and played it with flair

Just like in the days when I had all my hair.

The block necks were hung not too tight or too loose,

As I waited for Santa inside my caboose.

I had them all tuned and I played every one.

The truss rods were perfect, the strings tightly strung.


All of a sudden on the roof of my shop,

I spied an old fat dude just reeking of pot.

He fell off the roof and into the snow.

I asked him right in. Why he came, I don’t know.

There was ice in his beard and mud on his boot,

And I thought only rock stars could wear such a suit.

He took down a red one, just like Eric C.

His fingers flew faster than old Alvin Lee.


It was wailing and screaming all over the town.

I could hear my Dad yelling, “Turn that damn thing down!”

Who knew this weird guy, such a flash with a pick

And a love of guitars, would be old Saint Nick?

I couldn’t believe all the sounds in my ear.

He said, “You get good working one day a year.”

Now Jimi, Now BB, Now John, George and Paul

Would bow to this master, the best of them all.


“You remember that Christmas back in ’63?

When you found a new six string left under your tree?

You started to doubt that I was the truth,

But my gift to you then was a link to your youth.

So for all of the years that would come in between,

Way deep down inside, you’d still feel like sixteen.”

He picked up some cases by Lifton and Stone,

Some old Kluson tuners and a worn out Fuzztone.


“Now, Charlie Gelber you must hear my pitch,

‘Cause this is my time and payback’s a bitch.

The 335 please, the red 59.

I gave you your first one, now this ax is mine”.

And quick as a flash it was stuffed in his sack,

And he waved a goodbye as he snuck out the back.

He jumped in his sled and sparked up a j,

Flew into the sky and was off on his way.

So if feeling sixteen is what sets you right,

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

By Charlie and Victoria Gelber

With apologies to Clement Clark Moore

This is the actual guitar I was referring to when the post was written. I didn’t own it then but I own it now (for the next few weeks anyway, then it goes to the next owner. It’s a near mint red 59 stop tail.

The Gibson Custom Shop ca. 1959

Monday, December 6th, 2021

OK, so there wasn’t a Gibson Custom Shop in 1959, not officially anyway. But there were custom guitars. Gibson, in 1959, would make just about anything you wanted as long as you were prepared to pony up a premium. You’ve all sen the personalized guitars with the player’s name inlaid (usually in really big, bold letters) on the fingerboard. That was fairly common both at Gibson and aftermarket. I don’t know how much it cost to have that done but I’m sure it wasn’t cheap. Unfortunately someone else’s name on your prized vintage ES-355 isn’t going to enhance the value. It’s easier to change your name than it is to change a fingerboard.

But the folks at Gibson went much farther than that. Want a special color? An extra cutaway? Different tuners? A custom neck profile? I could go on. If they could do it, they would do it. My favorite aspect of the vintage guitar business is the oddball stuff. The one offs that make me (and most of you) stand up and take notice. Rather than tell you about these unicorns, I will show you some photos. I’m sure you get tired of hearing me talk.

What better way to get your name out there than having it inlaid into your J-200 fingerboard? This guy didn’t really need much help but Gibson was happy to accommodate his wishes. Custom guard too. I don’t actually know if this was done at Gibson but I’d bet it was.

What’s so custom about this? It looks like a normal sunburst 335. Except it’s not. Look closely. It’s a 355. Sunburst was not and option nor was a stop tail. All production 355’s were red and all of them had a Bigsby in 1959 unless you special ordered. This is the only original mono sunburst stop tail 355 known.

Here’s a whole bunch of 59 335’s in red. Big deal, you say? They only made seven of them, all special orders. I’ve owned five of the seven. Still have two. Want one?

Want a special color that will match your car? Gibson would be happy to do that. Just tell them what color your car is (Cadillac green)

This ES-355 has lots of custom features. Some factory, some aftermarket. Extra jack, switch, harmonica bridge and stop tail are aftermarket. Pointy double cut body and bound f-holes are factory.

There are lots more out there. White ones, blue ones, 335’s with Varitones, custom fingerboards and many more. Collect ’em all.