Let’s face it, guitars have long been among the most collectible things on the planet, and it seems as if we are always finding some way to justify buying “yet another one”! In my life, these seeds were planted very early, and were even encouraged by my Dad, who has always been a collector of art, as well as being an artist, and a cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine.
I can still recall, back in 1967, when I bought my 1953 Les Paul with him, just how much we used to love to go to the shops and stare at, and appreciate the amazing guitars. This was the time when the concept that “vintage guitars are better than new guitars” was first starting to really take hold, and boy, was that ever true at that particular juncture! I can recall a time when he and I went to Dan Armstrong’s shop, upstairs on 48th Street in Manhattan, and we literally had to “step over” all the incredible gold, black and sunburst Les Pauls that were just lying around!
We then went across the street to Manny’s Music, only to see the owner yelling at the lead player from the Blues Magoos to stop his insane buying of instruments……..he must’ve bought 4 or 5 guitars a day, and they were getting mad at him. All I can say is he certainly knew what he was doing by falling in love with all those incredible vintage axes! It’s funny to think that most of them were only 10 to 15 years old at the time, but it was a certain quality they possessed that just wasn’t in the new instruments at that time.
Even when I got my ’52 Les Paul, which really was my first GREAT guitar, it was because another guitar, which I had on order, and which was new, had finally come into Manny’s, where I ordered it from. Well, as fate would have it, I picked it up, bent the G string, and the nut promptly went flying off the guitar!! It wasn’t even glued in! We stood up, got our $200 deposit back, and walked up to 49th Street, where there was a little upstairs shop called Eddie Bell’s, and there, waiting for me, was a gorgeous gold ’52 Les Paul that I simply fell in love with! It was $250 LESS thean the new guitar I left back at Manny’s, by the way! More on collecting later……..keep on hunting!