Tag Archives: vintage guitar

The Great Scandinavian Guitar Show 2019 Gallery

The Great Scandinavian Guitar Show 2019

Pictures from The Great Scandinavian Guitar Show 2019 at Fryshuset in Stockholm.
It was a fantastic weekend together with friends from the passionate Swedish guitar community.
We also brought our touring Boutique Guitar Show to the show, which was a great success. We gave the public a unique opportunity to experience guitars and gear from luthiers and builders from all over the world.
If you use these pictures online, please make sure to credit VintageandRare.com.

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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.

Eternal Guitars Interview with Dave Walsh from Eternal Guitars

Dave Walsh owns a small one man workshop in Britain where he builds authentically aged, “relic” electrical guitars. We had a little chat with Dave about Eternal Guitars and his working methods.

Hi Dave, thank you for taking your time to speak to us. Could you tell us a little bit about how and when did you start Eternal Guitars? Where are you located?
Hi there. I’ve been a luthier for almost 20 years – I originally did an apprenticeship in Denmark Street in the west end of London but in that time I’ve also worked in other areas of the guitar world, including writing for Guitar & Bass Magazine in the UK and a stint at Guitar Institute in London, but I’ve always loved repairing and making guitars. I moved away from London a couple of years ago down to the south coast of England and I had to start my business again, so I decided to do something a little different. I love vintage guitars and being a creative person with a bit of an art background, I found that I really enjoyed the relic process on the few guitars that I had done for customers in the past so I decided to begin making them. The first review that I received was very positive and now people are beginning to love the guitars because they sound as good as they look!

What motivated you to begin building aged “relic” electric guitars in the first place? And what type of guitars do you build? Standard models? Custom orders? How does it work?
The primary motivation was a love of the process. I’d seen plenty of relic guitars on the market – some very nice and others not quite so good! So I wanted to make aged guitars using high quality components and nitrocellulose lacquer which in my opinion sounds better than modern poly finishes and combine the look with my experience in setting up vintage guitars so that they play as well as possible and of course also sound amazing within a realistic budget. I offer standard models based on well known instruments but I also build hybrid, custom or totally one-off models.

Please describe to us how do you come up with the names for your guitars?
To be honest I can’t really take the credit or the blame for that! My wonderful girlfriend usually christens them depending on how they look. I don’t think she sees them (or anything else) as inanimate objects – and I think she’s right… : )

You are currently building your first bass guitar. How did that come about?
To be fair, it’s not the first bass that I’ve ever made but it is the first Eternal. I’d been wanting to make an aged bass from the beginning but time and constant guitar orders conspired against me! My good friend Chris (who also helps out with the marketing) is a bass player so we collaborated to make a special one for him. He has a particular style and sound that he needs so that’s why it ended up as a bit of a hybrid with modern hardware and his choice of pickups. It sounds thunderous though and he’s very happy with it. Next up will be a stock early ‘50s T-Type bass in butterscotch blonde…

Can you describe to us the process, from idea to conception, of building a great relic guitar or bass?
It may sound obvious, but it really does start with the wood. Every guitar – even electric ones – are acoustic in nature and if it doesn’t sound good unplugged then put it back on the wall and walk away! Ash, alder and mahogany bodies all sound very different too as well as maple or rosewood fingerboards so I go through a very long process of determining exactly what tone a customer is seeking before settling on the right wood combinations. Some are tried and tested like ash and maple for an early ‘50s T-Type sound but sometimes like on my T-Type Jr which is actually a hollow mahogany design it can be a bit more experimental. With the T-Type Jr I was looking for a fat, warm sound without the associated weight of a Les Paul for example and the result is a very lightweight but incredibly loud guitar. The pickups are only there to amplify the core tone and colour the sound to a point – we have a saying here that you ‘can’t polish a turd’ and with pickups that’s very true as they will never make a terrible guitar sound great. So once I know what a customer wants in terms of tone, the rest is about making it feel and of course look great by using the right finishing products, hardware and professional set-up.

Do you have one instrument that is your favorite or that makes you the most proud in terms of craftsmanship, sound, look, and so forth?
Oh, I love them all but the Blonde S-Type ‘Betsy’ is a truly wonderful guitar – as is the Custom T-Type that I made for Sound Venture Guitar Boutique. I also love the T-Type Jr as well as the new Olympic White over Three-Tone Sunburst J-Type that has just been christened ‘Lola’.

How do you consider musical styles and genres when building your guitars in terms of selection of pickups, woods etc.?
That’s good question. Usually a customer will have at least a vague idea of what they want, but not always, and some people are embarrassed by a lack of knowledge. Sometimes I have to coax it out of them but by asking the right questions I can usually narrow it down. As I’ve mentioned above, some wood and pickup combinations are classics that will work 99% of the time whereas sometimes I have to be a bit more creative and interpret what a customer needs and wants into a workable design. The Eleanor E-Type guitar is a good example – it’s owner Mike approached me to make a one pickup T-Type relic but with the feel and sound of an Ibanez Jem… On the surface, it looks like most of my other guitars but the neck profile is copied from one of Mike’s own Jem guitars, there are 24 frets on a 16” radius fingerboard with a bullet truss rod adjuster at the headstock. The lower cutaway on the body is deeper than normal for better access to the top frets and on the back the heel is sculpted away and there’s also a ribcage contour. The pickup is a DiMarzio Evo2 which is coil split and makes a great T-Type twang as well as all the usual hi-gain grunt. Oh, and there’s a kill switch and an angled jack socket like a Jem too…

Are your guitars especially common among musicians playing a certain genre?
Not especially. Obviously the more classic vintage designs lend themselves to certain styles of rock, jazz and blues but a great sounding guitar can work in any musical environment. Ultimately, I’m happy to build whatever the customer wants and if that means installing a Floyd Rose on a banjo then I’ll consider it..!

When building a custom guitar or a bass for a particular player, what considerations do you make?
It’s up to me to get it right first time so I ask A LOT of questions and nail down the exact spec. before picking up any tools. My guitars represent a fair investment for most people so they have to be right in themselves and for the individual player. Everything from fret size to the capacitor values can be specified and decided in discussion with the customer. Once the build is completed I then go through an exhaustive set-up procedure to ensure that the instrument plays at its best for the style that the player requires and most importantly how he or she plays because we all play differently…

Any interesting new relic guitars or basses on your workbench right now?
I’ve just finished a Reverse J-Type in Sea Foam Green that is a killer one pickup guitar and I’ve also been commissioned by a gentleman in Sweden to build a VERY obscure Jeff Beck S-Type which has been a lot of fun as no one anywhere has any real knowledge of the instrument except some footage from a German TV show in the early ‘70s.

Any advice for players looking to order a custom relic guitar or bass?
Don’t be afraid to ask! Almost anything is possible be it a straight copy of a classic vintage guitar or something hybrid or totally unique – drop me a line through the website or give me a call. I love a challenge too…

Given that this is for a blog, what role has technology (the internet, your website, etc.) played in the success of your business?
It’s vital in creating awareness if nothing else. Technology plays a huge role in marketing a brand or business and for a one man business based on the seaside in England it means I can reach customers worldwide as well as locally. I’m currently building guitars for customers in Sweden and Japan too – and that would never have happened without the internet…

Any famous last thoughts?
Thank you so much for talking to me! I now have to return to repairing guitars and refitting the bridge to an old 12-String acoustic  – it’s not all glamour here… ; )