This site is dedicated to a collection that I’ve been building, quite by accident, since I first learned to play. Although I call this my “Collection”, it’s not a collection in the traditional sense, in that rather than just collect or display them, I actually play most of these guitars regularly. Each has a special voice and feel and I tend to rediscover each over time. The idea of cataloging these guitars began as a Christmas present from son Ben to photograph each one for posterity. And so, herein, are the results of that gesture.
Unfortunately, neither did I, and this led to the worst guitar trade of my life. The 335 was too big for stage work with the band, and Ovation had just come out with a line of hybrid acoustic-electrics with a rounded plastic back. Jim Croce played them and made them rock and I figured I could too. So I went to Chuck Levin’s Music Center and traded the Gibson for an Ovation, plus cash. Although I liked the Ovation, it became clear years later that the fine folks at WMC had taken me for a bit of a ride thank you very much. Not what you would call the best of trade-ins. Let the buyer beware. Eventually though, it was back to needing a real electric, so in 1977 I bought a natural finish Fender American Strat. And so on through today.
Although I call this my “Collection”, it’s not a collection in the traditional sense, in that rather than just collect or display them, I actually play most of these guitars regularly. Each has a special voice and feel and I rediscover each over time.
I’m not a luthier, but love to work on guitars the same way some guys restore old cars (a guitar fetish is way cheaper.) I remake and upgrade guitars just for fun, not for resale. Some are in their original state, with no changes made. But many of the others started as a “platform” and I set about modifying them. I usually turn them into something I’ve always wanted to play. For example, the Knopfler Red Strat started as a $60 used Squire at Guitar Center (“Well look at this…”) which I then slightly modified to include DiMarzio pickups and Spezel tuners and the Black/White/White knob sequence he used. The bottom line is that they all have to be playable; if they’re not, they tend to go away.
I never sell or trade guitars, and by never, I mean almost never. There’s the sad tale of the 335 (as told above). Then there was a D-28 Martin Shenandoah model I used to have, but I never liked the neck and when I discovered Taylor Guitars (better neck for my hands), I gave the Martin to friend Cece.
At one point I also had a Rickenbacker 4001 bass and a Rick 350SH Susannah Hoffs, neither of which played that great (to my hands), so they were sold.
Since then, I’ve tended to keep the ones I have, since there’s not much value in resale. And my lending policy is thanks but no: I lent out the Ovation once to a friend and it came back with a cracked neck and no explanation. Lesson learned there as well: people won’t treat your stuff as gently as you do.
Each of these guitars has its own character. Some of them even have nicknames. I used to joke that my relationship with each guitar is like dating different women: some are beautiful, some you love, some are temperamental, some let you down. But each is unique and important to me.
My favorite? They’re all special, but if I had to choose one it would be the Red Stra-Tele (named by Ben). I visualized the design and it actually became better than I had imagined: great neck, versatile sound, beautiful to look at and to play, and it never lets me down.
So that’s it. No more guitars. Unless you count the cool Ibanez Mahogany Electric that I bought today. But no more after this. I promise.