Category Archive: Guest Blog

Hey.What’s Wrong With My Wood!? The Search For My Les Paul By Dan Yablonka

Hi all ….. I hope the crazy world we live in these days is treating you well!!

This particular installment regards a topic that changed mid stream. I started out to write about Les Paul’s and the history behind them but it has been done so well by guys like Robbie Lawrence and Vic DaPra and as I ventured into it I realized where I was going was more of a combination of a personal journey to buy a guitar for myself and after 39 years of buying. selling, collecting and some writing as well as 50 years of playing, diving even deeper into what makes a great guitar “tick!

The story starts by my humbling myself and saying that as a smaller dealer than many this economy has hit me below the belt as hard as anyone . Guys haven’t thought about expensive gear as much since their houses went “south.” BUT … housing is going North again and I am seeing the signs!

So in order to keep the doors open at a few slow moments I too, had to thin out the herd. I had about 14 or 15 guitars. Most of the axes I  sold hurt a little but I usually had a plan. I sold my 56 Strat but I have a 64 for example. I sold 1 of 4 Weissenborns BUT the one guitar that had none similar was my 50s gold top Les Paul that I had to sell. Don’t get me wrong …. no pity parties  here. I still have my 1961 ES335TD Dot Neck … but as I sold off about 4 or 5 guitars I promised myself i’d set aside a little to buy a Les Paul… ok … maybe a reissue or similar. It was  on that quest that my digging went deeper and I wound up finding the perfect scenario for me and a ton of reaffirmation of why we love vintage guitars and/or that quality of manufacturing and materials.

I want to start by saying that the guitar companies of today are really good companies and you get a good bang for the buck and this is by no means a criticism or comparison. They have been subjected to environmental laws like the Lacey act and in many cases it is Apples and Oranges to  compare and not by their hands. But there are  many differences with age and different manufacturing between an old one and a new one  or people wouldn’t be paying 2k for a newer used Les Paul Standard and $350,000.00 for a 1958-60 really flamey standard. That is of course the most inflated and extreme example on the most iconic of guitars. But a 1995 Strat can be had for 9-$1200 usd and guys pay 15-40k for a 50s or 60s pre cbs one. As we all know those numbers are adjusted to the current market. They were 20-75k prior to 2008.

So … as I went looking for a Les Paul I had some time on my hands to find  what exactly was available to me for not too much $Jing (money). I liked some of the reissues I played and I played a lot of them. Also in my range were some 70s possibilities or maybe a late 60s in player condition. But most that I played and saw were newer guitars. There was just an “oomph”  in the body that I was used to with my gold top that I wasn’t finding. That little extra that make an old guitar 110% that we pay exponentially for just wasn’t there for me.

At that point I started researching because it also dawned on me that I know a few builders and one of them is the absolute best restoration place I have had the pleasure of dealing with. Their finish work is outrageous! Because of the nature of building me a Les Paul and also that they are not at all in that business but restoration they shall remain nameless. So as I studied further I found that everything I had been spouting out of theory regarding solid bodies for years was even more true than I knew!

I found out that there is a large sonic difference between Honduras mahogany and other woods (yes .. even other mahogany) being used today. It  wound up being AS significant as Brazilian is to an old acoustic Martin when compared to Indian rosewood!

The same holds true for the finish. Nitrocellulose allows for the wood to breathe better and age too! Much more so than the polyurethane ever could. Hide Glue is a MAJOR factor. The environmental laws today  allow (in the U.S.A.) the use if “titebond” otherwise known as Elmer’s yellow or wood glue but up until recently would no longer permit hide glue (It is being re-introduced and allowed again on some parts of the guitar). The problem is wood glue dries as a plastic  so you now have a layer of plastic between your neck and body, and your Mahogany body and maple top diminishing the sound transference. On a really well made hide glue guitar you get more of that ax working as one entity because all sections are connected as well as possible. You knock on the headstock and the body starts vibrating uncontrollably  …. ok now we’re just getting into guitar porn!

Even something one would think as small as a Brazilian fingerboard can change the sound. The warmth of the board can be discerned.. Now again … these are restrictions put on the new manufacturers and it is not their doing. Think about the sonic difference between a maple and rosewood board Strat! Ok … one form of rosewood to another is possibly not as notable but when you’re evaluating what makes an old iconic machine work so well .. no stone should be left unturned! Slightly warmer tone is one result that the board contributes to.

So … being lucky and patient enough … it took 6 years to convince my friends to build me one. Now I am not suggesting that everyone do this because there really aren’t that many great guys out there and to many, a newer Gibson fills all of their needs. BUT I am suggesting that there is a  large difference to the discerning ear or studio musician and the reasons we buy the old ones are because of the way they sound and play. What I was able to find was that the materials were absolutely critical as well. I personally play player’s pieces as I still work as a musician (which explains why I have always kept a smaller business … split paths). My 64 Strat is a refin … my 61 ES335 that I mentioned is beat to death, but the old wood and time and workmanship taken are irreplaceable to me. I “beat the system” on this Les Paul, but great time and effort went into producing just a handful of guitars achieving results that were the best of both worlds.

So what I wound up with is a guitar that is only a year old but made out of country so it has Honduras Mahogany body and neck/head, Hide Glue which forms to the wood and bonds it, Nitro Finish and a Brazilian Rosewood Board and it honks like a real one! Though I wound up with a new guitar. It was built to old specs and old materials and the result was that body alive as one could hope for and the closest thing I have ever played to an original burst  (’59 Les Paul) and as good or better guitar than the 50s gold top  I parted with.

My point I am making is not that we should all go out and design a guitar to fit old specs. That was my process since I was trying an experiment to see how much the actual woods and workmanship of yesteryear  mattered though it was a pivotal part of why I got a great guitar. My point however IS … there is a reason we buy old guitars and the reasons are many but the result is mostly the same. Like Hugh Hefner always said … “it’s in the wood!”

WE LOVE the way the old ones play and sound. I think the vintage market is on it’s way back and my excitement is renewed.

So …. if you’re a serious player and want to maximize the experience … even if they are “player’s pieces” with strays from originality to save you a ton of Euros …  instead of buying 5 newer guitars to do what one can, try a vintage guitar. It’s easy. Go to your favorite dealer on Vintage and Rare and get your hands on 3 or 50!!!  You’ll be hooked and you’ll be hooked to this site for life because it is now your Mistress!!! You already know WHERE to get them!! where you can find my site as Dan Yablonka Guitars aka “Axes Of E-Ville”

Until we gig again!! Happy Happy. Dan Yablonka

Visit Dan´s shop on Vintage & Rare here



Nick Hopkin Drums – Ludwig 400 Supra-phonic – Vintage drums, Legendary sounds

Nick Hopkin Drums

Vintage drums, Legendary sounds by Nick Hopkin.

Have you ever questioned why the Ludwig 400 ‘Supra-phonic’ is the most recorded snare drum of all time? Ever thought “what is ‘that great Gretsch sound’ all about?” Ever wondered what all the fuss is about kits from the 60’s and 70’s?

Well hopefully we can answer some of those questions for you.
Over a series of posts on Vintage & Rare, I hope to look into some of the key features of vintage drums.

I don’t claim to be the leading knowledge on vintage drums, far from it. There are plenty of great books out there crammed with as much knowledge as your brain can absorb.

However, we thought it’d be fun and informative to start a blog about vintage drums; a potted history of both the leading and virtually unknown makers, opinions from leading authorities and players, a rough guide to buying vintage drums.

Why do drums from different makers and eras sound different? What are the key areas to look at when buying a vintage drum/set? Ok, I understand… now how do I get these 40 year old drums to sound great at my local gig?

I hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as I enjoy writing them and discussing vintage drums.

We’ll kick things off next week with the most recorded snare drum of all time….

All the best

Nick Hopkin / Nick Hopkin Drums, UK.


For further information, please visit Nick Hopkin Drums own web page or on Vintage&Rare.

Gibson ES-335 Most Versatile Guitar Ever by Dan Yablonka Guitars

There is no way to start this article without paying a great deal of due to Gibson’s President during their “Golden Era” (1950s to early to mid 1960s) Ted McCarty. The man was a visionary and helped or invented futuristic models such as the Explorer and Flying V and had his hands dirty in the development of the Les Paul and Electric Spanish or ES series semi hollow bodies. Thanks Teddy!!

The Gibson ES-335, 345 and ES 355 guitars are probably if not THE most verstaile guitar ever … certainly amongst the top. The solid maple block running through the middle of the guitar is why it is called a “semi” hollow. It allows for the sustain of a solid body with the overtones of a hollow body and the Feedback issue is solved all in one brilliant move. This solid block however would come into play as a difference later between eras which i will soon address in the article.

The ES335 was introduced in 1958 with a market price of $267.50. I know … i know … if only today … but if it makes you feel any better .. you had to pay seperately for the case!! 😉

The very 1st releases were in sunburst or natural or what is also referred to as blond today. The early 1958s were slightly different in that they had no neck binding. Though early and unique most dealers and collectors sell or value these for slightly less than a bound model. By mid 58 this was a non issue as binding was introduced and by 1959 the model was really off and running whether 335 345 or 355. Players like BB King and Chuck Berry would help put them on the map.

Shortly after its release came the fancier models just mentioned. introduced in 1959.,…. the ES345 and 355. What set these models apart was mostly ornamentaion and the stereo option as well as a vibrola, usually a Bigsby but some sideways are seen too. The 1959 ES355 would also show off the upcoming cherry finish officially introduced in 1960 AND the fancier bound ebony fingerboard. You may have seen the early 59 ES355s and most of them were actually made from the same red anolyn die that faded out of all their other models so the 355s often took on a more reddish orange hue than its later 1960 release where they had solved the fading issue … much like in Les Pauls standards of that era. It should be noted that while stereo was a big part of these models that early ES355s were also made occasionally in mono which is a superbly collectable combo. By 1960 all 3 models were available in Cherry Red, Sunburst and Natural but natural was discontinued after 1960.

As time progressed some of the features would change and come seriously into play thus why certain eras are considered much better.

A very big one to me with ES335s was the history of the solid block. 1958-1961 “Dot Necks” (referring to their dot inlaid fingerboard) all had solid blocks through and through … but as Gibson’s production on this model would ramp up they in 1962 began cutting out the treble side of the block between pick ups allowing for a “universal” shell so that determination of model could come later in case they needed a 345 instead for example. The stereo models required a big choke and stereo splitter and this device was mounted between the pick ups so suddenly the ES335s were also cut out. This will not show from the bass side F hole but will from the treble with a light. Then earlier ones had merely a small pilot hole drilled in the block for wiring as on Dot Necks but in mid 62 you’ll see about a 1+1/2 – 2″ cut out between the pick ups TREBLE SIDE ONLY. In my opinion as a 335 owner and obsessed fan all of my adult life is that the earlier solid block had more sustain and a darker sound more like a Les Paul and the later ones a little jazzier tone. This is a very important to some … yet a little discussed turning point except between the deepest of “335 heads!”

This would be the start of a transitional era that eventually revamped many features of the model. Up to this point only minor mods like a knob change in 1960 had occurred. The changes in most cases happened in the mid 60s, These  affected many Gibsons in that way. In later 62 the PAF decals were replaced by patent number pick ups though this was mostly a formality and didn’t amount to changes made right away. Also at this time block neck markers became stock though dots were still an option. In 1963 dots were no longer offered. The next evolution would be in the mid 60s late 64 into mid 65 when the well accepted wider fingerboard would disappear ….the nickel hardware would be replaced my chrome .. the stop tailpiece was then replaced by the trapeze, “T-tops” or later humbuckers were introduced and eventually what you wound up with was still a great guitar but certainly somewhat different than the original eras.

The 60s and 70s brought players that would also give ‘cred’ to the model Eric Clapton used his 1964 on Cream’s “Badge” … one of the best and most noted guitar solos of all time. In the 70s Fusion guys would put the dot neck into the history books forever with players like Larry Carlton cutting it up on Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne” and Lee Ritenour showing up on the cover of everything with his red Dot.

By the late 60s the changes were mostly the same as other models in that Norlin’s signs would show up … like the head volute … “made in USA” stamp” But all in all stayed the same until the late 70s when small additions like coil splitters were added. But there is also another point regarding the center block to be made here and that is there was also a period early in the 70s where some but not all 335s were made with a total divide in the block from bass to treble side that you actually Can see through from both side F holes … or a non solid block. This may have a good clean sound but i have played several and feedback can be an issue at high gain and volume situations.

By the nearly 1980s everyone was aware that the earlier features were the ones they wanted and much like Fender … Gibson launched into the reissue business and the reissues are a very close aesthetic version of the originals … though most would argue not on a level of the guitar’s actual playability, sonics and desirability. Which would explain why the reissues go used for about $1500-$2000 and the orignals more like $25,000- $40,000 (and more for a blond!).

I too … have payed through way too much for a blond    … but back to guitars … It is my humble opinion that the Gibson ES335 is the most versatile guitar ever. It can be used as a Rock and Roll overdrive guitar, a jazz clean guitar, BLUES guitar extrordinaire …. a country guy can use one on the treble pick up and so on.

If i had to part with all of my electric guitars and keep just one … you KNOW its going to be my 61 dot neck ES-335!!

Thanks for listening.

Dan Yablonka. Dan Yablonka Guitars.

Rock My World: Guitar Cover Art

Those of you that love guitars and the history of guitars, may also feel an affinity with vinyl records. Here is a little piece about the cross-over between the two worlds, and the appearance of iconic guitars on vinyl record cover art

Rock My World: Guitar Cover Art

Sometimes the album cover is just as (or more) interesting and fascinating as the album itself. Great cover art catches the eye and makes any record stand out from the rest. Cover art also provides clues as to the band or artists’ intent – will this be an upbeat or melancholy collection of songs? Or will it be a journey through various musical stylings that will evoke a multitude of emotions and feelings? You can also determine the time period by looking at clothing, famous architecture, and icons (peace signs and smoke rings should be a dead giveaway) featured on the cover.

What Do Guitars in Cover Art Mean?
For many musicians, musical instruments are much more than just a medium on which to play – these instruments are an extension of the soul, spirit, and body. Featuring an instrument on the cover usually means more than, ‘Hey, you’re going to hear a lot of guitar work on this album.’ Usually portrait shots (Johnny Cash or John Lee Hooker holding their guitars) or abstract images of guitars floating in mid-air (Dire Straits Brother in Arms), the guitars featured can provide some clues as to the main theme of an album.

For example, Brother in Arms, features a steel blue National Style 0 Resonator, manufactured between 1930 and 1941. This guitar relied decorative steel sheets (also called cones) to help it produce a louder and more distinctive sound than traditional acoustic guitars. The design helped keep the instrument from being overshadowed by other instruments like the drums and horns.

Interestingly, the album features several songs including Brothers in Arms, and Ride Across the River that explore the nature or war and military life. The guitar on the cover was probably designed during WWII and, while beautiful, appears to have been pieced together with various metals (may cause some people to think of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome – a post apocalyptic movie about people surviving war and rebuilding a society – the movie came out in 1985, the same year as Brothers in Arms).

Musicians Known for Their Guitars

Other famous musicians such as Eric Clapton, Santana, Hank Williams, and B.B. King, who named his original guitar and all those that came afterwards ‘Lucille,’ are known for their expert guitar work. King even wrote a song about his guitar, several of which have been featured on album covers.

This may be why Eric Clapton is seen holding a guitar on many album covers – Slowhand , Just One Night and 24 Nights just to name a few. The cover art for 24 Nights, a live album Clapton released in 1991, was done by Sir Peter Blake, who also designed the cover art for The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. The cover, a squiggly, free-hand drawn sketch of Clapton playing his guitar, is appropriate for the album because, according to Clapton, the album was not an easy one to produce. The album chronicles Clapton’s impressive 24 nights of performances at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

This piece was written by Sylvia from

If you are looking for vinyl records on the internet, then please pay us a visit

Gibson Les Paul Heritage Series Standard 80 Model Information

The Gibson Les Paul Heritage Series Standard 80 models – Finding that 1959 Burst tone on a budget.

Guest blog by Henrik Berger.

It can haunt you in your dreams, and follow you around the entire night and day, it can drive you into countless hours of searching the internet, daydreaming, while listening to Youtube- clips, finding articles, talking to friends.. What am I talking about?…… I am talking about the 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard..

Unless you are very wealthy, or extremely lucky, you will not be able to claim your 1959 Burst, since prices are in the big boys league, and have been rising for quite some time. But today´s economy on the other hand, suggests that now, it would be a good time to invest in one, if you have around, 100.000 – 400.000 $ (depending on the condition & originality) to spare for a 1959 Burst.

But!…… If you (like me) don’t have that kind of money, what do you then do?
Since the age of 5 I have played guitar, but at the age of 16, I started to have a great interest in vintage guitars, and  I have always been on the look out for that special guitar.

At first I only looked for vintage Fender Stratocasters because Jimi Hendrix, Eric Johnson, Eric Clapton, John Norum and Yngwie Malmsteen played on those beat up Strats.

But several years later I got turned on to Gibson.
I had read up on the Gibson Les Paul history and of course stumbled upon the 1959 Burst…. The holy grail of guitars. So I set out to get myself one of those;).

Not surprisingly that did not happen or should  I say, has not happened yet. But I came across this series of guitars that apparently should be very very good. And they were affordable!
The Gibson Les Paul heritage series standard 80!

Starting the 59 reissue era
It all started back in the late 70´s when different shops requested Gibson to make a guitar that had the same features as the 1959 Les Paul Standard, the first models that Gibson attempted to build were far from the real deal. But at some point the Nashville factory set out to release the Heritage Series 80.

The Heritage Series Standard 80
Production started early in 1980 and ended late in 1982. There were between 2-3000 of these guitars built, I have conflicting info on this matter, however most people recognize 2000 to be the right number. The author of this article do not know the exact number, so if any of you have that information we will be more than happy to hear from you.

The Heritage series standard 80, was not completely true to the Gibson 1959 Burst in a lot of ways, but all guitars were made with no weight relief or tone chambers, and they are solid body guitars.
There were 3 types of Gibson Les Paul Heritage Series Standard 80. The Standard, The Elite and The Award.
Here is a quick overview of the general specs on those guitars. Generally all of the models mentioned below feature a sharper horn at the cutaway than the original 1959 Les paul.
Colours vary from Cherry Burst- Honey Burst- “Lemon Dropish” – Black – Wine Red – Goldtop.
However most were coloured in the CherryBurst and the HoneyBurst. Black- Wine Red- Goldtop only exist in very small numbers. (personally I have only seen 3 Goldtops, 2 Black, 1 Wine Red in my search and they were all Standards).

Heritage series standard 80 /Standard model
One piece Maghogany Body
Tops range from regular plain top to really flamy.
3 piece Maghogany neck medium to semi big profile.
Rosewood fingerboard
Trapeze mother of pearl inlay
Narrow binding in the cut away.
Grover kidney tuners.
2 Tim Shaw designed Humbuckers
Neckplate says Heritage series standard – 80.
Back of headstock has regular serial number and 4 extra digits underneath, and a “made in the U.S.A” stamp. all numbers and letters are stamped into the neck
Heritage series standard 80 / Elite model.
One piece Maghogany Body
quilted tops
1 piece Maghogany neck neck medium to semi big profile.
Ebony  Fingerboard
Trapeze mother of pearl inlay
Narrow binding in the cut away.
Grover kidney tuners.
2 Tim Shaw designed Humbuckers
Neckplate says Heritage series standard – 80 Elite.
Back of headstock has regular serial number and 4 extra digits underneath, and a “made in the U.S.A” stamp. all numbers and letters are stamped into the neck
Heritage Series / Award model
Same as the Elite. with a few exceptions.
Tops are quilt or flame
Features a plate on the back of the neck with a number
The neckplate says Heritage Award
The  guitar was fitted with gold hardware.
About 50 of these where made.
These were given to the sellers that could sell the most guitars from this line. I have seen about 5 for sale the last 5 years.
The odd crossover 80 / Elite and Award models
Since the Elite and Award have ebony fingerboards, they are somewhat a freak crossover between a Gibson les paul custom and a standard/ reissue. But a good  odd crossovers I mind you!. They are excellent guitars and plays very smoothly. But in terms of getting close to the original 59 burst they are far from close. However fitted with the Tim Shaw PAF-clone humbucker pickups, they have a very warm and true vintage  sound to them. Soundwise I would compare them to a 1957 Les Paul Custom fitted with P.A.F pickups. They have a bit more edge to the tone than the rosewood Standard.

The Tim Shaw P.A.F recreation
Gibson had Tim Shaw to recreate the famous P.A.F pickups, and his determination to recreate an exact copy of the P.A.F pickup drove him into investigating how the coils were spun,, which magnets they used, how many windings etc. Tim Shaw was very meticulous about the design of these pickups, and he managed to produce a very close clone to the original P.A.F pickup. They go by the name of “Shawbuckers” or “TimBuckers” in the collectors society, and they fetch a fair amount of money when they get sold on various sites and auctions. These pickups are marked with numbers underneath, 137 being the neck pick up with less windings, and 138 being the bridge pickup with more windings. There is also a date after the first 3 numbers so lets say a pickup would read 1370581 then its a neck pickup made in May 1981.

Serialization and identification
The serialization on these Gibsons is the system that Gibson used from 1977-2005
The pattern is YDDDYPPP. And you decode it this way.
Y        =   First number in year.     (10´s)
DDD  =   Number of day in that year.
Y       =    Second number in year  (1´s)
PPP  =    Place of production (001-499 = Kalamazoo, 500-999 = Nashville)
Lets say you have 82760599 ( 82760599 )stamped on your neck.
That means your guitar was made in 1980 on the 276th. day in the Nashville plant
The additional  4 digits below the serialnumber, do not have any code, they were random numbers that was stamped into the neck to show that this guitar was part of a limited guitar run.
The Heritage series 80 is fairly easy to pick out from the crowd, and it is pretty easy to determine whether or not it is an original guitar you have in your hands.
I have a small checklist inside my head that hopefully can help you out.
1. Back of the headstock has a normal serial number and 4 extra digits.
2. Grover Tuners.
3. Neckplate states  Gibson Heritage series standard 80 / – Elite / or Heritage Award.
4. Nickel hardware.
5. Pickups must have the “TimBucker/Shawbucker” code.
6. Serialnumber must be in the 1980-1982 range*.
*I have seen 1 Heritage 80 Les Paul with a very early 1983 serial number which indicates that they made the very last ones in early 1983. But I cant say if that guitar was 100% original, since it was a listing on an auction site.
History books and information from Gibson states that production years was 1980-1982.
If you want to make sure everything is original, look for faded plastic parts and worn nickel hardware, check for screwholes that shouldn´t be there, and take a look inside the cavities..
Finally if you are in doubt, bring a camera, and take some shots of the guitar, that way you can post them in forums, and I´m sure people will help you out.

The feel… The tone….
My hunt for the holy grail will never stop I guess, but so far I have had great success in my quest for the classic Gibson tone.
I have found an instrument that really inspires me, and sounds so good, that I look forward to play my trusted Gibson Heritage series standard 80´s everytime.

The thrill is, that since these guitars probably never will reach a “darling” status with the collectors, there is hope that they will stay in current pricerange more or less. You can get a fair condition Heritage Series standard 80 for around 3500 $, the better ones with nicer tops generally go for a bit more, and then there are the “collector” ones in mint condition which is set at a even higher price.
The thing is that this series of guitars was intended to fill a hole in Gibson´s line of guitars, because a lot of players and dealers wanted a reissue 1959 burst, so there was a demand for this type of guitar.
And even though they missed out on a fair amount of details, which resulted in Gibson not getting as close to a real 1959 Les Paul standard as they  intended, these guitars are truely excellent. And I´m personally grateful  that they are  not 100% perfect clones of a 1959 burst, if they were, you couldn´t buy them with my kind of money.
But the most important thing about  these guitars is, than when you pick up a Heritage series standard 80, you just know that you have a very good and special guitar in your hands.

In my opinion The Gibson Les Paul Heritage series standard 80 is by far superior to the build- quality that Gibson offers today, at least in the price range  of a secondhand Heritage series standard 80.
The more expensive ones that Gibson builds today,of course has another feel to them.  I have tried some recent reissue Les Pauls that blew me away, I remember in particular a Sunburst washed cherry 1960 R0 that just kept singing, but the price was way over my budget, I remember it being 42.000 Danish Kroner ( appr. 5600 Euro / 7400 $).

I wouldnt mind getting my hands on one of those, but on the other hand I just like the feel of a 30 + year old Guitar. And I feel that with todays prices, I might as well spend 3-4.000 $ on a guitar that I know will conquer my heart, and I still will be able to take out to gigs in small clubs or bigger venues, without worrying too much about the accidents waiting to happen.

Introducing myself and final thoughts
My name is Henrik Berger, Im a guitarplayer/singer/writer from Denmark, and I have been playing guitar since the age of  5, my biggest influences are  Eric Johnson, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Steve Lukather, Yngwie Malmsteen, John Norum, Gary Moore and of course  the late great Jimi Hendrix. When I turned 16 years old I started to have a great interest in vintage guitars, and  I have always been on the look out, for that special guitar.
At first I only looked out for vintage Fender Stratocasters because Jimi Hendrix, Eric Johnson, Eric Clapton, John Norum and Yngwie Malmsteen played on those beat up Strats.
But several years later I got turned on to Gibson.

It all started with a 1972 Gibson SG special, then I got a 1977 SG Standard. Then I flirted with the Les Paul, and had a 1976 Les Paul Goldtop Deluxe, which honestly wasn’t a great guitar, so I decided to buy a 1976 Gibson Les Paul Custom (Black Beauty).
The Les Paul custom was a better guitar but still “it” wasn’t there, and by  that time I had read up on the Gibson Les Paul history and of course stumbled upon the 1959 Burst…. The holy grail of guitars. I didnt have the money so I discovered the Heritage series standard 80.
I have always collected guitars, but “collected” in the sense of having some guitars to take out to gigs and make use of them.
All my guitars are in players condition, some even beaten close to death, because I played so many gigs on them. I just love to I bring my Heritage series standard 80 Les paul to a club job, and take my 80-Elite  alongside for backups, without having second thoughts about it.
The only thing that I always think about though is when bringing my Heritage 80´s on the road I will always place them securely in a guitarstand, Fenders tend to uphold if they are knocked over, Gibson´s don´t;).

In my point of view a Heritage Series 80 Standard, is one of the best options out there, if you are looking for that Burst tone on a budget. You get the feel and sound of a vintage instrument, they may not be the perfect clone, but feel- and soundwise they come pretty darn close if you ask me. And you just now that you are holding a great guitar in your hands when you pick up a Heritage series Les Paul .
And should you decide to sell it at some point ( I bet you wont  you probably won´t lose a lot of money…. maybe you will gain some instead.
So go out and grab yourself a great player!
All the best
Henrik Berger

This article is  written entirely by myself, I would however like give credit to  “Gruhns guide to vintage guitars” written by George Gruhn and Walter Carter, and to Mike Slubowski for giving me some of the  knowlegde about these guitars and all the other 59 reissues out there. I would also like to thank Søren Larsen for taking the time to read correcteur on this piece.
This article and the media connected to it ,is owned by Henrik Berger. Please ask for permission before reproducing anything from it.

Early days and hard lessons

Guestblog by Russel Grooms

I am what you might consider a newcomer to the vintage guitar scene, but I’m a fast learner. In the time it has taken me to amass a collection of books and to strike up friendships with various dealers, different guitars have passed through my hands and back out again. Very few have stayed.

For those that do still have a home, I have some criteria that I can`t overlook. Out with anything with a crack in it, out with anything with non-original parts and out with anything built after 1969. This might seem harsh but I did not get into the vintage guitar world to own masses and masses of guitars.

I got into this world because I don’t trust banks and I don’t have a pension. What I do have at the ripe old age of 37 is the money to invest in something that brings me happiness, is of historical interest, has unsurpassed design quality and will hopefully never depreciate. Of course, all markets are fickle but with the rising interest in the sub-culture of anything “vintage”, I think it’s a safe bet to say that I won’t lose money in the long term.

I’m not fooled into thinking that I ‘own’ these guitars. I’m a caretaker, content to have them in my possession and play them, nurture them and keep them from harm until I can no longer do so, at which point they will be passed onto the next person. If this was not the way of the world then I would not have the guitars I have now and someone else would not be playing a great Banner L-48 or the ’73 D-28 I had heard a few weeks ago. They will be sitting on a porch somewhere playing their hearts out to the moonlight, not bothered by the cracks and living for the sound and the feeling that those old boxes bring. I may be fussy but I still miss them and hear their tones in my head but I console myself that I can always tune into the memory.

I am always on the hunt for something new, but as my ear develops and my eyes become keener to the finer points of cosmetic damage, I find it harder and harder to find something that ticks all the boxes. With prices rising fast, it’s no good for me to put my money in a ’58 Country and Western if it’s a bad player because I’ll never pick it up. It’s the same as buying a Ferrari and then putting it in the garage. You might as well wrap your cash in a brown envelope and bury it in the garden. Those guitars are out there but with each investment come higher price tags and a harder search.

The day I first played my 61’ Hummingbird was a jaw-dropping moment and I had to beg the dealer not to sell it until I could raise the money. In the end, it took 6 months to secure it and I know he held a lot of people back in that time but he saw the look on my face… love at first strum. The question is now can I be a master to more than one mistress? It’s going to take one hell of a guitar to even come close. I know now within seconds, much to the amusement of dealers as I plow through their collections like a locust through a cornfield.

Visits to vintage guitar shops are no longer for casual browsing and I have to be in the mood, focused, well fed and wide awake, like an athlete on the block. First and foremost it’s the tone and the playability I’m looking for, after that it’s the tick list. What happens when I find an awesome sounding guitar with cracks or non-original tuners, or changed bridge? I put it back. I remember the tone like a photograph and I put it back because no matter how good it sounds or plays, there will be a better one out there and I can’t risk the dread of knowing that I let the part of my brain that is ruled by sound over-ride the part that governs my strict rulings. It’s like walking a tightrope with myself and I don’t intend to trip at this stage. I’m off to view a collection of slope shoulders Gibsons tomorrow. Wish me luck and let’s hope the stars are aligned for that magic moment when time stops and I know I’m holding the Holy Grail.

By Russell Grooms

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Finding Vintage and Rare Vinyl Records

Maybe those people under the impression that traditional record sales are doomed, because of the Internet, are wrong. It seems that what we know about vintage and rare instruments, it also applies for vintage and rare vinyl records. People like the collectability appreciate fine work and the need and desire for personal ownership is still strong amongst music fans. We are proud to introduce you to a new V&R guest blogger from the United Kingdom, Sylvia from She gives us a great guide on how to find Vintage and Rare Vinyl Records.

Finding Vintage and Rare Vinyl Records

Finding vintage and rare vinyl records these days requires some research. Although in the UK there was a remarkable small revival in record stores last year (, overall record shops have been at a slow decline for the last decade or more. This has meant that record lovers sometimes have to turn to other sources for those vinyl gems. For many collectors, the hunt is as much fun as the find, and finding a rare record in a used book store or thrift and consignment shops can bring great excitement. Alternatively, if you are looking for the true international market price for a record, then it can be better to look online.

What is Considered Vintage Vinyl?

Most records could be considered vintage vinyl, but those from the 50′s or 60′s may be very valuable depending on their condition. When searching for vintage records, music trends such as Big Band, Rock ‘n’ Roll, ‘Bubble Gum Rock,’ Disco, Punk and other genres are a good place to start. Choosing a genre gives you something concrete to search for, and who knows, you may become an expert in a particular niche genre. Alternatively, as a place to start, you could also look for particular artists that have become music icons over the years.

Look for records signed by the original artist, special edition records or limited releases as these records may be very valuable. Lastly, look for records with stereo or mono pressings as these tend to be rarer and thus more sought after.

How to Spot Vintage Vinyl

If searching for vintage vinyl in a book or thrift store, it is important to thoroughly inspect the record to determine its condition. The grading system for records is Mint, Near Mint, Very Good Plus, Very Good, Good or Good Plus, and Poor or Fair.

When inspecting the condition of a record, try to do so in good lighting. Inspect the label, the record (both sides), record sleeve, record jacket, and cover art. You are looking for any imperfections such as scratches, uneven surfaces, warping, tearing, stains, discoloration, imperfect center hole positioning, and any other imperfections that reduce the value.

Keep in mind that records that are still sealed may have been played at one time and then resealed, as this process is fairly simple. Unless you know the person you’re buying the record from, you may want to avoid buying records with a seal, unless you are sure the seal is authentic.

Buying Vinyl Online

One can buy vintage records online through collector’s websites, auction houses, online auction sites, record dealers, and record shops or bookstores with websites. Even though you can’t physically inspect these records, by looking online you will be able to see the true market value of the items. Furthermore, in some cases, you may be able to buy a record, inspect it once it arrives and return it if it doesn’t meet the grade specs provided by the owner.

Having an extensive knowledge of music makes bidding on vintage vinyl online much easier. If you find a record you’re interested in, learn as much as you can about the artist and the record to determine its value.

Visit record dealer websites to buy and sell entire record collections. Websites like The Record Collectors Guild maintain websites listings for record dealers. You can also conduct quick search engine searches to find dealers in your area.

Record Buying Resources

When buying records online, there are plenty of resources to use. Informational websites like allow you to search for rare records by artist and title. Using this site, you can find where certain records are sold and the average price. Other helpful websites include Musicstack, Gemm and You can also visit online auction websites like Ebay to bid on vintage records.

For many collectors, the Internet has opened up a whole new world for buying and selling vintage records. Instead of traveling from book store to thrift store, you can now buy vintage records from the comfort of your own home.

By Sylvia at

Note: The views expressed by the author of this blog post do not reflect the views of Rock On…!

Would you like to add something about vinyl records…? Please leave a comment…

Fender Guitars- The Dark Era?

Guest blog written by Emil Puris

So I`ve been reading this blog by a guy stating that today`s Fender Stratocasters are “light years” better than any 70`s Strat he`s ever come across. The argument was supported by the fact that Fender was taken over by a company called CBS in 1965 and every Fender made between 1965 and 1985 supposedly belonged to the dark era of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation.

Doing some research on the net about the subject, as I had no historical knowledge of Fender guitars, even though I own two Fender Stratocasters myself, I found out that players perceived a loss of the initial high quality of Fender guitars after the company was taken over by CBS. As a result, the late 60`s Stratocasters with the large “CBS” headstock and (from the mid 70`s) the 3-bolt necked models (instead of the conventional 4 bolts) with the “Bullet” truss-rod and the MicroTilt adjustment system fell “out of fashion”. I literally have to get up and make myself a cup of coffee after writing this last sentence. However, the point of the above-mentioned, is that all of this supposedly led to a reduction of the quality of Fender`s guitars while under the management of “cost-cutting” CBS. When Fender was bought from CBS by Bill Schultz in 1985, manufacturing resumed its “former” high quality and Fender regained market share and brand reputation.

Furthermore, so-called “pre-CBS” Stratocasters are, accordingly, quite sought after and expensive due to the perceived difference in quality even compared with contemporary post-CBS models. In recent times, some Stratocasters manufactured from 1954 to 1958 have sold for more than US$175,000 which is perverted if you ask me, but then again everybody has their own fetishes.

I have two Fender Stratocasters, one from 1976 and the other one is from 1995, and after doing this research, I was amazed to learn that my 1995 Fender should be superior to the 1976 model according to these so-called guitar-enthusiasts and experts. Well, I have to say that my personal opinion is that my 1995 Stratocaster is a toy, which should be sold at supermarkets around the country, compared to my 1976 Fender Stratocaster. The history of Fender guitars, or any guitars for that matter, has never interested me and the only reason I did this research was because I was asked to write this blog. Personally, I don’t care about whether a guitar is made by well-recognized companies such as Fender, Gibson, Martin or a luthier from China or some monk chopping a piece of wood in the mountains of Tibet (hard to find by the way, the wood that is) who decides to open a Custom Guitar Shop, just out of boredom.

When I pick up a guitar I don`t look at a label or a serial number or what kind of wood the top, back and sides and fret board is made of. If it sounds and feels good, than that`s the right guitar for me. I`ve played guitars from the above-mentioned brands that sounded like crap and that are being sold for ridiculous prices, and I have played guitars sold for much less that sounded a lot better. For example, my $600 western Chinese-made Fina sounds better than some guitars that I`ve played in $2000-3000 category. This goes another way around, of course, but I`m just saying. The important thing to remember is that it is individual what kind of guitar suits one`s playing style and feels comfortable, and not what you read on the Internet and follow the sheep-mentality.

My purpose with this, rather short, article is not to promote 70`s Stratocasters, but to make some kind of stand against the ridiculous statements that one can find on the Internet. To end this article, I have found pictures of a few guitarists that are playing these ridiculous 30-40 years old badly-made Fender Stratocasters.

But what do these guys know, I think I`m going to start saving money for a $50,000 1957 Fender, instead of buying a “crappy” Fender from 70`s for around $4000.

Guest blog: Ric Overton – Collard and Collard

Our own piano enthusiast Ric Overton is back with his second blogpost for the Vintage & Rare blog. This time the main focus is Collard and Collard pianos. Enjoy.

Collard and Collard

Among the pianos that I love and adore Collard and Collard would be one of my favorites, mostly because of the absolutely exquisite cabinetry and design. Collard and Collard are certainly among the nicest pianos with the most respected name in the industry world-wide.

F.W. Collard was baptized in 1772. The actual year of his birth is unclear. In or around 1786, he moved to London and at the age of fourteen he began working for a music publisher and pianoforte builder known as Longman, Lukey and Broderip.

Unfortunately, in the later part of the 1700’s Longman, Lukey & Broderip began to suffer some levels of financial problems and were forced to sell their interests to other investors. By the later part of 1800 a new company had emerged, owned by Muzio Clementi, Josiah Banger and F.W. Collard with a portion also going to David Davis. The new firm was known as Muzio Clementi & Company. The reason this name was chosen was that by this time Clementi had risen to substantial fame and notoriety as a composer and performer not to mention that he had also become quite wealthy.

It is not clear when David Davis left the company but it has been noted that Banger left in 1817 and William Frederick Collard came in. In 1831 the partnership between the Collard brothers and Clementi expired and in 1832 the company was renamed to Collard and Collard.

In 1842 William Frederick Collard retired and F.W. Collard became the owner of the company. He in turn took F.W. Collard Jr. (his brothers son) and Charles Lukey Collard (another nephew) in as partners of the firm.

Among the many changes that were made during the transition that the next few years would bring, is that Collard & Collard decided to completely divest themselves of the publishing business and concentrate mostly in piano building. One problem that arose is that they had a contract with India to provide bugles, drums and other musical instruments until the government of India was transferred to the Queen which left the family firm free to turn their collective energies solely to the manufacturing of pianos.

Over the years Collard and Collard were met with many successes. They won numerous design awards because of F.W.’s considerable talent as an engineer and good fortune smiled on them in several situations where they simply saw an opportunity and were able to react to the needs of the demands of their time.

Of course, along with the great accomplishments also came two devastating fires, one in 1807 which destroyed the Tottenham Court Road factory and again in 1851 when the newest factory on Oval Road in Camden Town was also completely destroyed.

In 1860 the firm announced the passing of F.W. and again the passing of W.F. in 1866. Interestingly, F.W.passed away in the same house on Cheapside where he arrived at the age of 14 and lived until he was 88.

The company was among the most celebrated piano companies in all of Europe. It was finally purchased by Chappell Piano Company of London in 1929 and remained in production until sometime in 1960.

Once you have the opportunity to see and experience Collard and Collard you will also see why this would rank among my favorite pianos of all times.

Ric Overton

Guest-blog by Ric Overton of

At Vintage & Rare we are not just into vintage guitars. We’re also into other instruments. Therefore we are lucky to have the piano enthusiast Ric Overton write guest blogs for us. He has been so kind to share how he fell in love with the piano and what he is doing today. We welcome Ric in our community and look forward to his many blog post in the future.

Passionate about the Piano!

It’s hard for some people to understand how I could have fallen in love with an instrument, but, I am in love with the piano. Of course, I like piano music and I enjoy practically every style of music under the sun, but, I love the piano itself. Let me explain:

Several years ago I worked for Baldwin Piano Manufacturing in Arkansas, United States. My first week of training I was asked to work in the factory so that I could capture the story of how Baldwin pianos were made and the steps that we went through to get the finished product and that is when it all began. I was instantly smitten with the process of how it started all the way to the finished product. There are an incredible amount of hours of labor that go into the making of the piano, the hardwood cabinets, the action, stringing, plate, etc. and to think that a person and not a machine actually has to touch each and every part made me realize that what I was playing on would have been touched by perhaps a hundred people or more. These people had families and lives of their own and while they would most likely never be heard of outside of their community, the world would hear their work.

That began my quest to understand how we arrived at where we are today in piano building and where it all first started.

Since Cristofori’s invention in around 1700 there have been vast improvements. Today, we have changed the construction of the plate, integrated new details for the strings, and changed the hammers as well as bits and pieces of the action model. But since the later part of the 1700’s and going into the early part of the 1800’s very little has been altered from the basic original design. Of course we have changed and updated some things because it is more feasible to create and the tone change is dramatic, but, for the most part the piano of today is very close to Cristofori’s first design.

In the early 1800’s we had builders who are still making pianos to this day. That list would include such names as Sauter (my personal favorite), Steinway, Grotrian, August Forester, Bluthner not to mention Bosendorfer and several others that are to long to list. However, these guys knew how to build pianos that would last and have kept the integrity of piano building that would last for generations to come.

I operate a small retail piano store in Nipomo a small piano shop on the Central Coast of California. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be in this business. To see young musicians that are just starting out and entering their formidable years is fun and exciting. I try and explain to each of them the heritage that has shaped the piano building process and where we are today.

Of course, as is with any product on the market, we have products on the market today such as digital pianos that can mimic the piano but there will never be a duplicate of the original.

I look forward to explaining some of the details of the great piano builders of our time and hope to hear comments and questions.

Ric Overton