Tag Archives: rare

V&R Proudly Presents Bass Gear Ltd (UK)

We have had the pleasure of meeting our friend and partner Phil Nixon who is the owner the shop Bass Gear Ltd based in Twyford, in the outskirts of London. As the shop name suggests, it is exclusively dedicated to dealing with bass guitars and other bass gear.

At Vintage & Rare we are very happy to work with Bass Gear since their philosophy harmonize very well with ours. In the spirit of Vintage & Rare, Bass Gear focuses on bass guitars that are generally hard to find. This typically involves low volume production brands as well as iconic vintage basses. Bass Gear does not stock just anyting, but only what fits within this philosophy. Visit Bass Gear on Vintage & Rare to view a selection of world class basses for sale.

In the short video clips below you can watch Phil present himself, his shop and not least some  incredibly fine basses. Enjoy!



GuitarPoint Interview with Detlef Alder from GuitarPoint

Detlef Alder talks about the challenges of being a vintage guitar dealer, the oddest vintage guitars he`s had in his shop, his favorite guitars and his advice for players looking to purchase a vintage guitar.

Hi Detlef, thank you for taking your time to speak to us. Could you please tell as a little bit about GuitarPoint? Where are you located?
We are located in the little town called Maintal near Frankfurt. I opened GuitarPoint about 10 years ago, GuitarPoint has quickly become a good address for guitar players, enthusiasts and collectors from all over the world. From the beginning we specialized in Highend-, Customshop and Vintage Guitars, from this year on we strictly deal with Vintage Guitars only!

What initially motivated you to set up a vintage music shop, and when was that?
We´ve always been dealing with vintage guitars, even though the High End & Custom Shop gear was our main business. My plan was to concentrate on the Vintage Business only, the last years before my retirement. As I decided this year not to sign any contracts with major brands anymore, it was close and the decision was easy for me to reopen GuitarPoint as a “Vintage-Only” store. We´ve already had the gear and we already had the knowledge.

What do you consider the biggest challenge for dealers of vintage music instruments today?
It is very hard to keep your Shop inventory always on a high level with instruments of excellent and mint quality. It was much easier in the past to call the distributer and order another dozen of Custom Shop instruments when you´ve sold them.
It’s also a challenge to make customers feel comfortable to buy vintage instruments.  A lot of customers would like to buy a vintage instruments, but are afraid of fakes, as they don´t have the knowledge to proof the authentic.

Do you play music yourself? If so, what do you play, for how long have you been doing it?
I´ve been playing music all of my life, I started playing clarinet in a marching band at the age of 6. Later I learned keyboard and finally I got stuck playing the guitar.

How do you choose what vintage guitars to carry?
I personally choose the vintage instruments for my store. There is a certain demand from our customers, which I have to serve, mostly for the classic Vintage Instruments such as Strats, Teles, Les Paul etc. But I’m always interested to stock some not so famous, but rare instruments nobody else carries. Sometimes if a not so desired vintage instrument is extremely clean (mint) and comes with an interesting story and complete documentation makes me buy it.

What is the oddest vintage guitar you’ve ever sold?
A ´70s Blond Rickenbacker doubleneck ? Maybe a ´60s Hofner Violinbass-doubleneck? We´ve sold a lot of odd stuff already …

Do you have any personal favorite vintage guitars in your shop? If so, why is said guitar your favorite?
Actually I´m a Les Paul guy, but the guitar for the lonely island would definitely be a Telecaster. There is a ´59 mint 6120 I could go crazy for at the moment, and that gold ´52 ES-295 I just bought as well …

Given that this is for a blog, what role has technology (the internet, your website, etc.) played in the success of your business?
Especially nowadays it is very important to show your gear to an audience worldwide. Many people don´t mind driving far to check a nice variety of Instruments, but they need to know it´s worth it. The WWW helps bringing your showcase out to the world.

Is there a general trend to the people who purchase from you, in terms of how skilled or experienced they are?
No, not really. There is the collector, there is the skilled player, there is the “normal” family guy who just fulfills a dream he couldn´t afford when he started playing. There is also the investor as well, most of them play pretty damn good by the way!

What advice would you give to somebody looking to purchase a vintage guitar?
It’s important to buy from a well-known source. Checkout the people who are selling the guitars, if you´re not experienced in vintage guitars, definitely have some expert help you checking the instrument of desire for authentic. Our company sells all instruments with a COA and a checklist of all parts. Furthermore we include a DVD with up to 50 detailed pictures of the instrument.

The Paganini Il Cannone Guarnerious violin – legendary!!

Paganini Il Cannone Guarnerious

Paganini is often described as the world’s first virtuoso and is still widely recognized as one of the greatest ever. While the story of Paganini’s life story is fascinating reading the story of his favorite violin – his “Il Cannone” (The Canon) is no less so.

Niccoló Paganini (1782-1840) achieved massive fame throughout Europe and was the most celebrated virtuosi of his time, and today he is considered the father of modern day violin techniques. Sadly he lived before the time of recordings, but this rendition of one of his most famous pieces – his Caprice No. 24 – should give you an idea of what his musical and technical prowess could produce. The artist seen is Alexander Markov.

Originally Paganini played a valuable Amati violin. This however he lost in a bet as he was heavily addicted to gambling. Instead a generous businessman and amateur violinist donated him a neglected Guarneri violin. The instrument distinguished itself by having lots a resonance and a booming quality which immediately attracted Paganini. He named it “Il Cannone” – The Canon, and it was on this violin he wrote some of his fastest pieces which require advance technique and performance at breakneck speed.

“Il Cannone” after Paganini

Upon his death Paganini donated “Il Cannone” to the Italian town of Genoa who still holds the violin at the Palazzo Doria Tursi. It is now considered a national treasure. All the principle parts of the violin are still intact a unique fact in itself, considering that this instrument dates back to 1742-43. Notice that it doesn’t have any chin rest, and instead the varnish which also is the original coating has rubbed of. This is due to the fact that Paganini like his contemporaries didn’t use a chin rest. Instead they rested their head directly on the sounding board.

The violin is supervised by a panel of experts. Among them is Mario Trabucco who is charged with playing the instrument regularly and Bruce Carlson, a violinmaker in charge of the conservation. Every year Genoa hosts a violin contest and the winner gets to play the masterpiece so thankfully this masterpiece has not been reduced to a museum artifact. Rarely it’s lended to guest cities with requirements of police escorts and multimillion dollar insurance policies. It can be heard on jazz-violinist Regina Carters “Paganini: After a dream”.

On the following video you can see Il Cannone in live action. The video features Israeli violinist Shlomo Mintz playing Paganinis Violin Concerto.

While Vintage & Rare can’t boast of having a genuine Guaneri on sale we have an excelent replica made by danish luthier Robert Knudsen. The violin is available through our partner Hertz Music based in Denmark.

Robert Knudsen Guaneri Model 1739 Violin

Thunder Road Guitars interview with Frank Gross from Thunder Road Guitars

Hi Frank, thank you for taking your time to speak to us. Could you please tell as a little bit about Thunder Road Guitars? Where are you located?
Hello Vintage and Rare! Thunder Road Guitars is an online-based guitar shop by musicians for musicians. We buy, sell, trade and cosign guitars and amplifiers with folks all over the globe. We opened our doors January of 2012 and have loved every moment of it since. We are located in Seattle, Washington, USA.

What initially motivated you to set up a music store, and when was that?
I’ve worked in music shops since I was old enough to have a job and have always had a love and passion for great guitars. I have managed a well-known Seattle vintage guitar shop and have also worked for a US chain store. I learned a lot working for both companies and eventually decided to open my own store this January. My favorite thing about independent music stores is the “shop culture” – the things that happen day to day, the guitars that come in and go and the interesting folks you meet. I love it! At Thunder Road we try and give our customers that same experience online by offering great customer service and a very personal approach. I’m very hands on and if you are buying a guitar from us more than likely you will speak to me directly.

What has been the biggest challenge in setting up your shop?
The biggest challenge for me was to take this dream of mine and make it a reality. I’ve always dreamed of owning my place, but there’s a lot of risk involved when you start any new business. Like I mentioned earlier I have just opened my digital doors to the world, but so far so good.

In EU the current Gibson case “lacey act” has gotten a lot of attention, what is your perspective on shipping between US & EU? Have you had any problems regarding this case so far?
I’ve shipped a lot of guitars between the US and Europe in my time buying and selling instruments and I think it’s unfortunate that the “Lacey Act” has created the issues that it has. I’ve seen it scare off customers and make it harder for someone like myself or other dealers out there to share great Brazilian rosewood vintage instruments with customers around the globe. With that said, it seems that if you can provide proper documentation of your instrument and show that it was built before a certain time period then you will be fine shipping, or so I’ve heard.

Do you play music yourself? If so, what do you play, for how long have you been doing it?
I sure do. I started my first band at age eleven, before I could even really play guitar. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to play in two professional bands, put out records, tour the US for what seems like a million times, and also tour Europe. One time on tour with my band in Europe the border guards in Croatia didn’t want to let us in because we didn’t have work visas so we bribed our way in with CDs, T-shirts, and other merchandise. We ended up making it across the border and rocked a great show. I’ve had some pretty amazing experiences playing music. I am very grateful for my experiences and feel lucky for the opportunities I’ve been given through music.

What do you consider the biggest challenge for dealers of musical instruments today?
I would say the biggest challenge is also one of the greatest strengths, and that is globalization. When I first started working in this field the primary option someone would have would be to walk into a brick and mortar store to pick out a guitar. Now they have the entire world’s instrument supply at the click of a button. For us this has been a good thing because it allows us to connect with buyers worldwide, but it is also challenging because there is much more competition for sales.

How do you choose what products to carry?
I carry instruments that I like, plain and simple. I’m a big fan of American and import vintage guitars and amplifiers from the 50s, 60s, and 70s as well as modern custom shop instruments from Gibson, Fender, Martin, Gretsch, Marshall, Dr. Z, and Orange. Right now Thunder Road offers used and vintage instruments, but in the near future we will be expanding to include boutique guitars and amplifiers.

What role has technology (the internet, your website, etc.) played in the success of your business? Do you use social media channels to promote your business?
Technology is huge for us as we are an Internet based business. Without the huge role the Internet now plays in instrument sales it would have been much harder for Thunder Road to get off the ground. We use social networking as a source of promotion as well as a way to connect with our customers and keep them updated on new and exciting instruments we acquire.

Is there a general trend to the people who purchase from you, in terms of how skilled or experienced they are?
We sell guitars and amplifiers to folks all over the globe. Some touring musicians, some recording musicians, and some hobby rockers. The thing they all seem to have in common is a passion for great guitars. I love how into guitars my customers are and love talking with them about music, life, and instruments.

You are known for your dedication to providing a good customer service. What advice do you give to somebody looking to purchase an instrument from you?
Being a musician myself I would not want to carry or sell an instrument that I wouldn’t feel comfortable personally owning or playing. Being a business owner I want to give my customers the same experience I would expect from a guitar shop. We go to great lengths to get to know everyone who crosses our path, whether it is selling them something or a simple inquiry asking about a guitar. We want people to feel comfortable when they work with us and feel as though they’re getting a great guitar from a great shop.

Any famous last words?
I want to thank the fine folks at Vintage and Rare for this interview and thank you (the reader) for taking time out of your day to read about Thunder Road Guitars. Please check out our website: www.thunderroadguitars.com/

Airline H8396 – 1960s Sunburst
Gibson ES335 – 1965 Cherry Red
Gibson GA18T Explorer – 1960

Hook up with Thunder Road Guitars via their Media Channels:

Peter Frampton and the doomed 1954 Gibson Les Paul

From time to time the unthinkable happens. We all know somebody who knows somebody it has happened to. And we all retell the story to friends and familiars with quacking voices, shivering hands and fear painted in our eyes. I’m talking about a musician’s ultimate nightmare: The losing of your favorite instrument. This was exactly what happened to guitar legend Peter Frampton in November 1980 when a cargo plane carrying his precious 1954 Gibson Les Paul crashed during takeoff in Caracas, Venezuela tragically killing the pilot and co-pilot.

The master piece seen on the picture to the left was presumed lost for 31 years until it finally reemerged last month having spent just over three decades on a little Dutch Caribbean Island called Curaçao. So what happened?
In 2010 (before the reemerging) Frampton gave an interview to rumerz.com as his Gibson signature model of the very same guitar hit the market. Frampton traces the history of how he came in possession of his ’54 Les Paul and it’s clear that he was still dealing with the loss at this point:


What is it about your black Gibson Les Paul that you love so much? How did it come about for you to release a signature model with Gibson?
[Frampton] “The original black Les Paul that I had was when I was playing with Humble Pie supporting the Grateful Dead in San Francisco back in ’70 or so. I had swapped a Gibson SG for a Gibson 335, a semi-acoustic. With the loud levels we used to play, when I turned it up for solos, the sound was just all over the place, whistling feedback, you know. There was someone at the concert that heard the problem, and he offered to let me borrow his Les Paul for the next show. I told him I’d never had luck with a Les Paul and that I preferred SG’s. He brought it ’round to the coffee shop the following day, and it was this 1954 Les Paul. I played it that night. He had re-routed it for three pickups instead of two and it was recently refinished by Gibson. It looked brand new. I don’t think my feet touched the ground the whole evening. It was just such an amazing guitar. I came off stage and told him thank you, and asked if he’d ever want to sell it, and thanks so much. He said he didn’t want to sell it to me, but he offered to give it to me. He gave it to me. Mark Mariana is his name. We keep in touch even today. Unfortunately in 1980, we had a disastrous plane crash with all our gear on it in Caracas, Venezuela. The pilot and co-pilot were lost, and their loss was very tough. Their lives meant so much more than that guitar. I’m not saying I don’t miss it, but it was a piece of wood compared to their lives.

Cut all the way forward. When I moved to Nashville about 13 years ago, I used to go hang out at Gibson. It was like my club, and I’d go hang out with the luthiers. I made a lot of friends at Gibson. Mike McGuire, the head of the custom shop, suggested one day that they should make a Peter Frampton model. We spent a year working together on trying to make it as much like the original as we could. I tried to give him as much information as I could from what it felt like, and they came so close. I love my guitar. It’s probably nothing like the other one, but I love what they did for me. We’re over 500 made now, and the PF Custom is out there and the collectors love it.

Little did Frampton know that while this interview was being made heavy negotiation was going on between the local Curaçao musician who had the instrument, Mr. Balentina – a local customs agent who spends his spare time repairing guitars, a hardcore Frampton fan from the Netherlands as well as the head of Curaçao’s tourist board Ghatim Kabbara. Confused?
Well apparently the guitar was saved from the burning wreckage of the plane and sold to a local musician from Curaçao. For the last 30 years the still unidentified musician has been using it playing hotels and bars on the Island totally unaware of the instruments history. Two years ago he handed the piece in to free time guitar repairman Donald Balentina. N.Y. Times’ James C. McKinley JR. tells the story:

Asked to repair the guitar, Mr. Balentina noticed the unusual third set of pickups and burn marks on the neck, Mr. Kabbara said. The customs agent began to suspect the guitar might be the one Mr. Frampton had played on the “Frampton Comes Alive!” album. He consulted with another Frampton fan in the Netherlands, who confirmed it had all the earmarks of the missing Gibson. Mr. Balentina also sent photos of the inner works of the guitar to Mr. Frampton. Mr. Frampton said he was stunned when he saw the photos; it looked like guitar, he said, but he could not be sure.

For two years Mr. Balentina tried to persuade the local guitarist to sell the instrument, and finally, in November, facing a financial problem, he finally agreed. But Mr. Balentina did not have money and, afraid another buyer might scoop up the guitar, he approached Mr. Kabbara at the tourist board.

Mr. Kabbara, an amateur guitarist who admires Mr. Frampton, agreed to put up the board’s funds to purchase the guitar, on one condition. He and Mr. Balentina would take the guitar to Mr. Frampton as a gesture of goodwill. “I thought the right thing to do was to give him back his guitar,” he said. “This guitar was him. The whole 1970s was this guitar.

Mr. Frampton, who is 61, said he hopes to play the guitar again when he appears at the Beacon Theater in New York in February. For now, he has left the instrument at the Gibson Custom Shop in Nashville to have some minor repairs made. The neck is still straight, he said, but he must replace old pickups with new ones, made to the same specifications as the original coils. But he said he will leave the burn marks and scrapes alone. “I want it to have its battle scars,” he said.

Ca. a month ago Mr. Kabbara managed to seal the deal via public funds and travelled to Nashville to hand over the guitar to Frampton. The moment he picked it up he knew it was the same ’54 Gibson Les Paul he almost exclusively had used throughout the 70’ies most notably perhaps on his 1976 breakthrough “Frampton Comes Alive!”. In a phone interview with N.Y. Times Frampton states: “For 30 years, it didn’t exist – it went up in a puff of smoke as far as I was concerned.”. As seen on the picture a clearly very happy Frampton is now reunited with his long lost love. To his webpage Frampton states:

I am still in a state of shock, first off, that the guitar even exists let alone, that it has been returned to me. I know I have my guitar back, but I will never forget the lives that were lost in this crash. I am so thankful for the efforts of those who made this possible…And, now that it is back I am going insure it for 2 million dollars and it’s never going out of my sight again! It was always my #1 guitar and it will be reinstated there as soon as possible — some minor repairs are needed. And, I just can’t wait to get Mark Mariana on the phone.

V&R like to congratulate Frampton for getting his prized possession back after all these years and also send a big thanks to Frank Gross from Thunder Road Guitars for making us aware of this story.

Grinning Elk interview with Ray Mauldin from Grinning Elk

Hi Ray, thank you for taking your time to speak to us. Could you please tell as a little bit about Grinning Elk? Where are you located?
Lee and I have been attending shows together since 2000. At the time, I owned an electronics repair service and was well- established here in my hometown. Lee walked into my office one day and as we were talking, I asked him, “What exactly do you do, Man”? He answered, “I buy and sell vintage guitars”. Well, I had always been a gear junkie, having played in various bands around Atlanta for years and I thought that his answer sounded very intriguing, so I asked if I could go to a show with him sometimes. He said, “Sure” so in October 2000, we drove out to the Arlington, Texas show and on the way back, the idea of forming a company was born. Our office is in Douglasville, Ga., which is about 20 miles West of Atlanta.

What initially motivated you to set up a music store, and when was that?
We don’t have what is referred to as a “brick and mortar” store. We are primarily a web- based business and have an appointment only office where clients can set up a time to come and visit. Our office and company was officially opened in Sept. 2006.

In EU the current Gibson case “lacey act” has gotten a lot of attention, what is your perspective on shipping between US & EU? Have you had any problems regarding this case so far?
Not yet. In the last year, we have been asked to send only two guitars that had Brazilian Rosewood overseas. Both were vintage Martins and we decided that rather than take a chance on them being confiscated, we would sell them here in the U.S. Thankfully, our clients understood and the guitars sold easily here.

Do you play music yourself? If so, what do you play, for how long have you been doing it?
I have been playing bass since about 1987, which was right after I got out of the Army. Lee’s been playing guitar since the late 70’s, when he was in high school. I think he even won a talent show back then, so he obviously got an earlier start than I did. He’s a much more accomplished musician than I am. He’s taller too.

The Elk Nation….James Hetfield….could you tell us a bit more about that?
That was one of the best days of my life. It was a Sunday and I was lying on my couch, watching TV.  Metallica was playing Atlanta that night and was thinking I’d get tickets down at the arena right before the show started. Lee called me up and said, “Pull out those two Flying V’s and the ’65 Strat. We might be showing them to the guys in Metallica this afternoon”. I probably said something like “Yeah, sure we are” but he insisted that I get up off my comfortable couch and get ready.  So I begrudgingly did as he asked, thinking that this was a cruel joke because you just didn’t get to go meet Metallica on a Sunday afternoon, but sure as shootin’, two hours later, we were standing at the service entrance to Phillips Arena with those guitars in hand. James’ guitar tech, Zak took us into a room where we laid the guitars out and it wasn’t long before Hetfield walked in and started checking them out. He eventually bought the white ’75 Flying V. We later showed the Strat to Kirk Hammett, but he said it was too clean and “not vibey enough”. Go figure that one out!

What do you consider the biggest challenge for dealers of musical instruments today?
I think the most difficult part of our business today is completing a deal over the telephone or by email. It’s a challenge to sell a piece to someone that is halfway around the world with only a written description or with words spoken on the phone. We want to make sure that the guitar or bass being discussed is exactly what our client is looking for and will fit his or her needs. The last thing we want is to mail a guitar across the planet only to have it come back.  We try to do all of the legwork and preparation before the guitar goes out so that when it arrives at its new home, the customer opens the case and says “wow”. That’s our goal with every transaction.

How do you choose what products to carry?
That’s another challenge in itself. We are so picky when it comes to condition and originality, the pool of instruments we will consider buying is a small one. We want them all to be as close to new as possible and completely original. Every once in a while, we’ll purchase a guitar that might have broken solder joints or a replaced nut, but it’s a rare occasion. There’s even a term that’s been coined in our industry- “Elk clean”. I hear it all the time at the shows we attend and I’d like to think that it refers to best of the best.

What is the oddest guitar you’ve ever sold?
A few years ago, at the Philadelphia Guitar Show, we bought a 1986 Kramer Triax that was virtually unplayed. It was flip- flop pink and had its original flight case and all of the tags.  Very cool and very 80’s!

Do you have any personal favorite guitars in your shop? If so, why is said guitar your favorite?
My favorite guitars are usually basses, so at the moment, it’s a Rickenbacker 4003s8. It’s an 8- string bass in Desert Gold that was made as a “color of the year” piece in 2001. There can’t be more than one or two in the world. In terms of favorite guitars, we have the first Murphy- aged Les Paul ever made at Gibson and it’s one of the most authentic looking ’59 reissues we’ve ever seen. I think Lee’s got that one stashed away somewhere so I can’t get my hands on it.

Given that this is for a blog, what role has technology (the internet, your website, etc.) played in the success of your business?
Well, it has exposed us to the entire world. Anybody, anywhere with a little electricity, an internet connection or a smart phone can look at our inventory and buy from us. Think about it: prior to the establishment of the internet, most guitar dealers sold their gear from a store and if they did have any national or international exposure, it would have been through magazine advertisements. Now, you can place a banner on a forum and be seen by literally millions of visitors to that forum a year.  I once sold a 1967 Stratocaster to a gentleman in Belgium from my Blackberry, sitting in the parking lot of a local post office. You couldn’t do that ten years ago.

Is there a general trend to the people who purchase from you, in terms of how skilled or experienced they are?
The majority of our clients are professionals, serious collectors and higher- end musicians. They know their stuff when they call, they like what they see on our website so generally, the only thing left to discuss is price. The gear we have speaks for itself.

What advice would you give to somebody looking to purchase a guitar from you?
If you’ve never heard of us, check us out. Another important aspect of the internet is, if you consistently perform at a high level, people will say so. The various forums have become powerful mediums and people all over the world talk about their purchases, experiences, etc. If you make just one person unhappy, they will certainly say something about it somewhere. Your reputation is the most important thing your company can have. It’s everything.

Any famous last words?
Sure. It’s a Latin saying: “audentes fortuna iuvat, which means “Fortune Favors the Bold”. Or, on a lighter note, Two Elks are always better than one…

In 2010 V&R visited Arlington Guitar Show and Ray was kind enough to introduce us to some of his pieces: (The interview with Ray Mauldin starts at 1:43)

A selection of Grinning Elk pieces:
Korina Explorer R9
Gibson ES330T
Rickenbacker 660/12 Tom Petty
Gibson USA map guitar