Tag Archives: www.vintageandrare.com

OPorto Sound Shock Event in June 2014

In June OPorto Sound Shock will once again be opening the doors for their music market in Portugal. Sound Shock is an event where musicians and music lovers can acquire, promote or trade musical matter & material. It happens inside an old market at Oporto’s historic city center. Music can be explored in different ways and one will always find something inspiring to take home.

The event will consist of:

  • Music flea market
  • Workshops and showcases
  • Jam sessions / DJ sessions
  • Live music.

To read more about Sound Shock check out www.soundshock.pt


Guitars The Museum

Wow! Have you guys been planning your next holiday? Cause we here at Vintage & Rare sure have! We are going to Umeå. The university town in northern Sweden, has become the home of one of the world’s finest vintage guitar collections. The Museum house a live venue, a music store, a recording studio, a photo studio and a restaurant. Behind the great idea is brothers Samuel and Michael Åhdén. They have been collecting one of the world’s finest privately owned collection of guitars since the 1960’s. And now the whole world has a chance to see it. Go check out the exhibition of electric guitars, basses, amps and music accessories at Guitars The Museum’ in Umeå. We here at Vintage & Rare are definitely going to pay it a visit very soon!

Guest blog: 1971 Gibson SG Inspires Both Online and Off

Have you heard of Figment?

It’s an online game where users can create their own, non-existing bands with whole albums with track lists, album covers, and long descriptions of how this band would sound – if it was real! The most creative and interesting bands and albums get the most fans and attention, and are rewarded with ‘lucres’, the Figment game money users can buy stuff with.

On Figment, it’s “All bands, no music“.

Figment decided to give their users a challenge and promised a bucket full of lucres for the winner:

“We’ve noticed that many of our players are musicians in real life.  We’ve also noticed that many of you are great writers, who can easily and concisely write about your love of music, real and fake.  So for our first Figment Challenge we’re looking for one player who owns a vintage instrument and is willing to write about why they love that instrument, and how playing it has inspired the bands they create on Figment.”

The winner of the challenge is formerwageslave aka Remy Brecht.  He owns this 1971 Gibson SG:

Here is the article he won the challenge with:

’71 Gibson SG Inspires Both Online and Off
by Remy Brecht

I am the proud owner of a Gibson SG 200/250 from around ’71-’72. I bought it for $180 down in Memphis, TN from a FedEx employee sometime in the late 90′s, though I wish I had thought to ask him more about the instrument’s history at the time. He either didn’t realize what he had or didn’t fully appreciate its well-worn appearance, and had it “restored” at some point in the form of drowning it in a thick coat of shiny white paint. Nevertheless, it still has its rubber knobs and plastic switches, its “Les Paul Custom” tag on the headstock, its single coil pickups hidden by black plastic covers with “Gibson” in raised cursive lettering. The latter is perhaps my favorite detail about the guitar. Since then, this SG has been my main axe through countless projects and cities, from alternative rock cover bands in Memphis to industrial rock in Indiana, from feedback noise experiments in Las Vegas to digital hardcore punk in Detroit. My blood has soaked into the fretboard on numerous occasions, and there are plenty of new dents in its weathered but still rock-solid body.

Sadly, however, I don’t always have time to sit down and record ideas for songs… or entirely new bands, for that matter. When I discovered Figment ( http://www.figment.cc ), the immersive online game dedicated to creating painstakingly realistic fake bands, I knew I had found the perfect outlet for my excess creativity. On Figment, users can create the bands of their dreams, writing their back stories and member bios, designing their logos, and creating albums complete with cover art, track lists, credits, and descriptions. Other Figment users then “buy” and “listen” to these non-existent albums to increase their position on the Hot Albums chart. There are also frequent challenges with real prizes and famous music industry judges, including concept album and album cover design contests.

One of my main bands on Figment is the mythical stoner/doom group Vorpal Queen. My vintage SG is a constant source of inspiration when coming up with songs and albums for VQ, especially since one of their main influences is Black Sabbath. Tony Iommi has his own line of SGs that bear his name, and owning an instrument from that same family of guitars (and one that dates back to the days of such classic Sabbath records as Paranoid and Masters of Reality!) helps me channel those heady, haze-filled days of nascent heavy metal. Considering the SG’s narrow neck with strings set hand-crampingly close together, the heavy chunk of maple that is its body, I have a deeper appreciation for players such as Iommi who were able to play them back then with such speed and finesse– not an easy task compared to the lighter, faster guitars available today. The SG’s weight, the way each note rings through the entire body… these things stick in my mind when imagining new chapters of dark sludge for The Queen!

Figment bands of mine:

Vorpal Queen – http://www.figment.cc/bands/2528/vorpal-queen.fig
Lucifer and the Long Pigs – http://www.figment.cc/bands/2491/lucifer-and-the-long-pigs.fig

Real bands of mine:
The Restless Shades – http://www.facebook.com/therestlessshades
Phallus Uber Alles – http://www.facebook.com/phallusuberalles

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

Guest-blog by Ric Overton of PianoSD.com

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


Rumble Seat Music – Vintage Guitar Dealer Interview

Rumble Seat Music was founded in 1993 and since then has focused mainly on supplying demanding customers with only the finest quality vintage guitars and used instruments.

We here at Vintage&Rare.com were lucky enough to catch owner Eliot Michael from Rumble Seat Music for a quick word.

Hey Eliot. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Could you please tell us a little bit about Rumble Seat Music and where you are located? How long have you been in the business?
We are located in Ithaca, NY approximately 4 hours north of New York City. We have been in business over 20 years.

What initially led you to set up shop, and when did you get started in the guitar business?
The desire to sell the best Used and Vintage Guitars to players locally and internationally.

Do you deal more in higher end vintage guitars or more recent issue used guitars?
We deal in both high end Vintage and recent used guitars.

How about amplifiers and effects pedals?
We have a large collection but we do not sell them as our main focus.

What are some of your personal favorite guitars and amps and why?
We love 1958-60 Les Pauls for their beauty, craftsmanship, and unsurpassed tone. Pre-CBS Fender’s, early Gretsch‘s and Rickenbacker’s are also some of our favorites. We also love the sound of early 70′s Marshall amps.

What kind of instruments and gear are you carrying in your shop?
We carry only the highest quality Used and Vintage instruments.

Are you a guitarplayer yourself?
Yes…..all of us in the store play guitar.

Are there a general trend to the people who purchase from you?
We sell to all types of players……..from beginning guitarists, collectors, and professional players. We have dealt with many top touring and recording artists.

How has the Internet impacted vintage guitar collecting?
The internet has opened many doors to buy, sell, and trade vintage guitars worldwide.

What advice would you give to somebody who would like to collect vintage guitars?
Only purchase guitars from dealers who have a solid reputation and sell quality instruments that they stand behind. Most importantly buy guitars that you like!

Great. Thank you again for speaking to us.

Check out Rumble Seat Music here, on their own site, on Facebook, and on Youtube.

Guest-blog by Gavin Wilson of guitarz.blogspot.com

Guitarz.blogspot.com was the first guitar-blog on the web. Thus, we here at Vintage & Rare.com figured that it would be a good idea to have founder and writer Gavin Wilson write a couple of guest-posts on our blog. Below is the first one:

Yamaha SG-3 from 1966

As the author of the internet’s longest running guitar blog (at guitarz.blogspot.com – started in August 2002 – seriously there were NO other guitar blogs then) I am of course a keen guitar enthusiast, even if I do tend to find myself writing about guitars more than actually playing them. Over the years I have bought and sold many guitars; I have owned well over 50 guitars over the years, and currently have a modest collection of approximately 20 instruments. Of these I have three that I would call vintage guitars. Obviously this would depend on your definition of “vintage”; such instruments need to be of a certain age, but also there should be an element of desirability.
Continue reading

Interview with Nick Matsikas from Matsikas in Athens, Greece

Dionysios Matsikas is a small luthier and guitardealer in Athens, Greece, specializing in traditional hellenic instruments. Here at Vintage & Rare.com we caught up with Nick Matsikas to ask him a few questions about the shop.

Hey Nick. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. How and when was your company started?
The company was established in 1979 from Dionysios Matsikas. He started making instruments as a hobby and from his great love for music and instrument construction, he started building Hellenic instruments at a small workshop in Athens.

What initially got him into building guitars and why specifically hellenic instruments?
Initially Dionysios Matsikas was infatuated with the idea of making these instruments and when he saw other luthiers building them, the whole idea began. He choose hellenic traditional instruments because of the impact they had on customers with their sound and because of the difficulty of making them.

How do you think your work is different from other guitar builders?
The work is very different because though these instruments may look like a guitar but they are totally different. From construction up to playing them.

Do you have one piece that is your favorite or that makes you the most proud in terms of craftsmanship, sound, look, and so forth?
We do have some custom instruments that are above the rest production and their body is made and look like a fishbone. Made from 4 different woods it is very hard to tell how all these small pieces actually builded and glued together.

Do you consider musical styles or genres when building your guitars?
We do concider hellenic style of music when building them but mainly the instrument is Ethnic and solo instrument so you can play what ever you feel like with it. Each instrument makes it’s own sound. Even of you build to instruments from the same woods the result will be still different, in sound.

What accomplished musician would you most like to see play your guitars, and why?
I would like to see all types of tringed musicians play with it because of it’s playability.

Any last thoughts?
Just try playing it and you will love it. Just as every new musician does.

That recommendation is hereby passed on. Thank you again Nick for speaking to us.

Check out Matsikas here.

Interview with Baker Rorick from the Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase

In Oct 2010 we had the pleasure of attending the Luthiers Invitational Showcase located in beautiful Woodstock, NY.

Here we met with alot of the greatest luthiers from US and had a splendid time. Here is an interview with show founder, Baker Rorick on the upcoming 2011 show.

Hi Baker, thank you for taking your time to speak to Vintage&Rare on the forthcoming Woodstock Invitational show in Oct 2011.

Could you give us a brief history of Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase, and how the show originated?
As a steel-string journalist, I was working on an article about Ken Parker Archtops in 2008. At the time, Ken’s shop was only an hour away from Woodstock, and he asked me to help him arrange a showing of his radical new guitars to the Woodstock musicians and builders community. Some other instrument makers asked to be included, and then we invited a few more, and assembled a small group, 8 or 9 luthiers. Cooperative effort, everybody pitched in a $100 each and we rented The Colony Café for a Saturday afternoon in October for a private party, show & tell, meet the makers, play some guitars, hear some music, fresh apple cider and pumpkin pie. The party was by invitation only, thus the Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase. We expected 40 or 50 people to come, over 100 showed up. Our local paper The Woodstock Times published a 2-page color article about it afterwards, and people started asking me if would be an annual thing, maybe with concerts and clinics and workshops and open to the public? With thirty years of experience in the guitar business, some connections and good will, and no real idea of what I was getting myself into, I decided to give it a try.

At January 2009 Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim I floated the idea around and met with potential sponsors. Michael Gurian introduced me to Tom Ribbecke, a founder of the original Healdsburg Guitar Festival, who said, “count me in!” Dick Boak of Martin Guitars encouraged me to join ASIA, the Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans, publishers of Guitarmaker Magazine. In June 2009 I attended ASIA Symposium, four days of builders workshops and colloquia in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Ken Parker introduced me to Julius Borges, founder of the Newport Guitar Festival, and Linda Manzer and many other great builders I knew only by reputation, who were all supportive. I introduced myself to John Monteleone and asked if he would consider showing at a small event in Woodstock, maybe 20 exhibitors? He said “yes”! My thought was to try for something different, small, select, a party and celebration of the luthiers art and the music inspired by the instruments.

A few weeks later I attended a concert by Laurence Juber in Woodstock, and was telling a friend (a fine jazz guitarist with a fine collection of fine guitars by notable makers) about my plans and who was getting involved, and the woman he was sitting with said, “You’re doing what, with who? This is my life! How can I help?” And so I met Sharon Klein, a singer/songwriter, classical and fingerstyle guitarist who also plays lute and oud, with her own collection of handmade acoustic instruments by notable makers, and she became my Production Partner and Music Coordinator. Sharon has toured extensively in the Middle East, and she attracted the interest of Faruk Turunz, the master oud maker, and Suleyman Aslan, a maker of baglamas and flamenco guitars, who came from Istanbul, Turkey to show their instruments in America for the first time. With their participation we were able to get Ara Dinkjian and Haig Manoukian and other great American Middle Eastern musicians to play concerts, promoting musical diversity and setting the Woodstock Invitational apart from the other handmade acoustic shows that usually only feature fingerstyle guitarists and a little jazz. Sharon Klein’s wide-ranging network also brought in classical and flamenco builders and performers – including her old friend Vicki Genfan, and she also insisted that we present instructional clinics and workshops, and she made it all work. The Bearsville Theater seemed the perfect small venue, with room for a couple dozen exhibitors in the theater, and performance space in the adjoining Lounge, and we set the date again for the third weekend in October, 2009, resplendent in the full autumn color of the Catskill Mountains. Jeff Doctorow brought close to a dozen significant instruments from his large collection for a Special Exhibit, including vintage harp guitars and the multiple-neck 42-string Pikasso that Linda Manzer had built for the late Scott Chinery.

People came! They bought guitars! Faruk Turunz sold every oud he had brought. The music was fantastic, luthier mini-concerts and special appearances, high-points being Vicki Genfan, Ara Dinkjian Trio with Tamer Pirnarbasi on Turkish kanun, hard be-bop jazz guitar by Eddie Diehl and Ilya Lushtak, and Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams closing the Showcase Sunday evening with Happy Traum and John Sebastian sitting in, magic, and only in Woodstock. All the luthiers said “How are you going to make it bigger? Please don’t move it; we love the venue.”

So for 2010 we added a second venue next door in Todd Rundgren’s old Utopia Soundstage for vendors, sponsors and some overflow luthiers, and another Special Exhibit. Tonewood dealers and tool and parts suppliers did particularly well. We presented a “String Sampler” concert featuring Vicki Genfan, Ara Dinkjian Trio with Tamer Pinarbasi, Bill Keith & Mark Patton, and Vic Juris. We were able to get Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo to play for an hour Sunday afternoon, and they brought Julian Lage along with them and tore the roof off the place! Woodstock resident Steve Earle showed up and bought a radical new nylon-string flamenco guitar from Michihiro Matsuda. And once again, Larry & Teresa closed the show, this time with Happy Traum and Doug Wamble sitting in.

VintageandRare CEO Nicolai with master luthier John Monteleone at the 2010 show

What would you consider to be the shows focus and direction?
The Show’s focus is HANDMADE, ACOUSTIC guitars and stringed instruments, by only the best contemporary builders. No factory guitars, no solidbody electric guitars. The other main focus is the builders and players community, the music made that inspires the builders and the musicians who get to play their instruments. It’s about the hang and the vibe. We also try to provide musical and instrumental diversity; not just steel-string fingerstyle folk blues Celtic and DADGAD, but Jazz, Middle Eastern, African, Latin, and anything wonderful we can find that no-one’s ever heard before.

What do you envision for the future growth of the W.I.L.S?
I’m growing it slowly, learning by doing, taking advantage of opportunities presented more than planning ahead. It’s incredibly fluid. I’m gratified by the success so far; the venues and location and time of year and proximity are all factors, especially the intimacy of the thing. I don’t want to move it to a convention center or something to make it larger and destroy the vibe.

How many builders do you anticipate exhibiting at this years show? Please tell us a bit about the range of guitars that will be on showcase at the show?
We’ve got about 35 luthiers and 15 vendors and sponsors exhibiting this year; luthiers only in the Bearsville Theater, more luthiers and vendors and sponsors in the Utopia Soundstage, including The C.F. Martin Custom Shop this year, very exciting.

Archtops, Classical and Flamenco and steel-string flattops, hybrids, cross-over guitars, 12-string baritones, high-tuned unison 12-string mando/guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, claw-hammer banjos, African koras, mbiras, ndungus, and cookie-tin diddley bows. I’m hoping that Michi Matsuda will bring his radical, experimental Cubist-deconstruction ukulele. Oh, yeah, and harp guitars, Michel Pellerin from Quebec, and Linda Manzer, whose 42-string Pikasso made for Scott Chinery will be there.

Any special attractions you have planned for this years show?
This year we’re hosting Kinobe & The African Sensation. Kinobe is a young Ugandan kora player and maker, and an international touring artist. David MacCubbin, a fine steel-string flattop guitar maker from Maryland, has been co-building some contemporary koras with Kinobe while Kinobe and two of his brothers are in the USA . We hooked up. Kinobe will be playing as part of our String Sampler kick-off concert, with Frank Vignola & Vinny Raniolo Guitar Duet and The American Guitar masters – Larry Pattis & Peter Janson. Plus, he and his brothers will be showing and playing some of their instruments (the brothers make and play n’dungus, mbiras and other traditional African stringed things) at the Showcase itself.

And there is always a “Special Exhibit of Significant Historic, Vintage and Contemporary Guitars and Stringed Instruments”, loaned by collector and authority Jeff Doctorow and other collectors and institutions: North American guitars from the early 1800s to the present, including harp-guitars, Sympitars, cello-guitars, oddities and innovations, plus antique and vintage lutes, ouds and stringed-exotica.

What has the public attendance been for past shows? What do you anticipate for attendance at this years show?
Miraculously, we had close to 1500 paid attendees last year. I expect the same or maybe more again in 2011.

Three Tom Ribbecky guitars on display

Thank you Baker for taking the time to talk to us. Hope all goes well with this years show.

Kari Nieminen/Versoul Interview

At Vintageandrare.com we would like to introduce a new feature on our blog: The V&R-interviews. The purpose of this is to give a slight introduction to some of the amazing people, who build, sell or just plainly love their instruments as much as we do.

Our first headliner is the renowned Kari Nieminen, who is the mastermind of  the magnificent Versoul, residing in Helsinki, Finland. Karis stringed instruments has attracted a lot of attention from some cool customers, and here, Kari lifts the shroud on what lies behind his success in the business.


A closer look at the rockin’ custom made Raya for Billy Gibbons – Photo by Versoul

Hello, Kari, and thanks for taking your time for this interview. Could you tell us, what initially made you become a luthier?
I started carving wood at age of three in 1963 and when I built my first guitar in 1973 it was technically an easy switch. I have been addicted to music since early 1970′s. Music has been a generator for my career; rock, blues and soul are the most important styles. At 17 I got my first guitar order and after since I have been experimenting with materials and technics. At 20 I built my first acoustic influenced by The Everly Brothers guitar sound.
I’m educated as an industrial designer and a self learnt guitar builder, so my approach to guitar building is different compared to traditional luthiers. I’m always searching and developing new concepts and ideas for new instruments, which are based on deep knowledge and analysis of guitar history and evolution.


What has been your biggest challenge?
You have to be very patient since it takes at least 10 years to get more renowned and establish your brand at certain level. When you are a one man company you have plan your time and resources carefully. A major part of my work is communicating with clients and travelling to meet up with musicians and media for Versoul promotion.

What is your biggest dream of building someday?
Well, I’m only trying to make better instruments for open-minded musicians who would then use them as tools in the creative process of making immortal music.

Which was the first instrument you made?
I was about 13 years old in 1973 when I built my first guitar, an electric solid body at home. You may find a picture of it at my website’s gallery. (We did, red).

Kari and his first, selfmade electric guitar – Private photo

What instrument have you been most proud of?
There are several instruments, actually.
There are the Kenny Burrell Jazz Models: A “Kenny Burrell Jazz Model 6-string” and a “Kenny Burrell Jazz Model 12-string” acoustic guitars made for jazz-guitar legend Kenny Burrell. I have also made a series of custom Raya electric guitars for ZZ Top-guitarist Billy F Gibbons, which made him so pleased that he named the models as ‘Raya Billy F Gibbons Blue Light Specials‘. Also I have built three custom 10-string guitars for Keith Richards during the last three years. Dusty Hill of ZZ Top bought my one of kind Raya Blue Light Bass in 2009 and keeps it at his living room with his favourite basses. My first important customer was Amancio Prada, a well respected Spanish artist, who ordered and plays my Touco Classical guitar. We have to remember that Spain is the home of the classical guitar and Amancio already owned the best, historical Spanish classical guitars. That order meant a lot.

What type of wood is your preferred, when building an instrument?
Of course the quality is important, wood have to be well seasoned and cut right. I use East Indian rosewood for fingerboards, back and sides & parts for acoustics and electrics. Also a bit of ebony fingerboards and parts. Red cedar and spruce for acoustic tops. Alder for electric guitar and bass bodies. Maple and aspen for neck material. Also curly and very rare visa birch for electric guitar tops. During last ten years I have been experimenting with domestic woods: alder and aspen. We have to remember, ecological aspects are more and more important, since certain tropical hardwoods have been over cut and are in danger of disappearing and have fortunately been protected. Therefore I do not use mahogany anymore.
The most essential thing about building guitars, is to use the right construction materials in balance with lightness, stiffess, resonance, flexibility, all combined with aesthetic aspects.

How did you get in touch with people like Ronnie Wood, Roger Daltrey and Billy Gibbons?
Around 2000 I got a great dealer, Westwood Music from Los Angeles. The owner, Fred Walecki, had very nice contacts and plenty of hi-end customers. Roger Daltrey was one of them. He got very excited by my Buxom acoustic guitar and wanted to help me, so he called Alan Rogan, a highly respected guitar technician. Alan has worked with George Harrison, Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, AC/DC, John Fogerty, Joe Walsh, Keith Richards; etc.

Kari and Ronnie Wood – Photo by Alan Rogan

So, I sent two guitars to Alan and he was very impressed. First he introduced Versouls to Ronnie Wood. According to Rogan, Ronnie hardly even get excited by guitars, but after checking the Versouls, he immediately wanted to buy both. Since then, Ronnie has bought 6 other Versouls.
In 2006 I bought Billy Gibbons’ book ‘Rock’n’ Roll Gearhead’ and that inspired me to build a special Raya guitar with a Blue Light and perforated steel sides in a gold leaf finished body.
After one round of trying to get in touch with Billy, his long time friend Elwood Francis contacted me by chance. Elwood was working for Rich Robinson of Black Crows. Anyway, nice timing, so I sent some photos of the Raya Blue Light to Elwood and immediately afterwards, Billy wanted to buy it.

Were they demanding customers?
Yes, after all guitar is a communicating tool for them. Ronnie knows exactly what he wants; not only sound wise, as he is a visual artist himself, who understand aesthetic values a great deal. Also Billy Gibbons has played hundreds of guitars, and he’s very hard to please sonically and visually. Besides this, Billy has very creative ideas of guitars.

What did they like about your specific style of building guitars?
Ronnie and Billy both like the Versoul uniqueness: The sound and playability & ergonomics combined with unique artistic features.
Ronnie Wood has bought two Raya Electric Baritones 6 string models, Raya Blue Lite Electric Guitar, Buxom 12 Acoustic Guitar (my gift to Ronnie when he turned 60) and a Henry Gold Leaf Top Electric Guitar.
These Versouls he used on the Bigger Bang Tour with The Rolling Stones.
In addition to this, he has bought Buxom 6 String Acoustic Guitar, which he for example used in the BBC Documentary about him. Also he has bought Resosun 6 String Electric Acoustic resonator guitar and Raya Electric and Buxom Acoustic Baritones, both 12 String Models.


The custom made Raja guitars for Billy Gibbons – Photo by Versoul

The first guitar, Billy bought, was the above mentioned Raya Blue Light. a solid body guitar in gold leaf finished body. Right after that, he ordered two Raya Custom versions with chambered bodies and Les Paul scale length and all gold leaf finish, body and neck with chrome hardware. Billy was so pleased with his new Versouls that he named the model as Raya Billy F Gibbons Blue Light Special.
A year later he bought a Baritone 6 string version of the model concerned. In the summer of 2010 Billy then bought a Black finished Raya Billy F Gibbons Blue Light Special with gold hardware.
Billy has used his Versouls both on ZZ Top Tours and several other performances, like at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK in 2010 with Jeff Beck and Jimmie Vaughan.

Visit Kari and Versoul at his website and have a look at the awesome craftmanship. It made Ronnie Wood and Billy Gibbons turn their heads, and yours will too. You should also check our current list of our associated dealers at Vintageandrare.com.