The guitars that got away.
Guitar players are always talking about the guitar that got away: “the guitar that I used to have, it was great, and I wish I never sold it, because it was so awesome, what was I thinking?” Well, I’m no different, so I thought I might post about some of these lost gems.
Recently, I was FB discussing with my friend Ken Shimamoto about how great Quicksilver (Messenger Service) was. I was reminded that I owned and played a guitar formerly belonging to QMS guitarist Gary Duncan. I bought the black Les Paul Custom (probably mid-70’s vintage) in 1979 from Zoo Music (Dallas, TX). I purchased it on first sight for $600, I even forgot to haggle on the price, it just jumped into my hands. When store owner Dave brought the guitar’s case out of the back room, I noticed that Gary Duncan’s name and address (in San Francisco) were stenciled on the case. Although I was a fan, I never thought too much of this. Somehow it just seemed appropriate: those were different times.
How did the guitar find it’s way to Dallas? I heard (but haven’t confirmed) that Duncan was staying in the Dallas/ Ft. Worth area during the mid-1970’s, maybe working in a record store. I saw Quicksilver 3 times in 1974-76 in Dallas, they had a Texan organist, so I think that they might have been partially based in Texas at that time.
It was my #1 guitar through 1979-81, then became my #2 until 1985. It was my #1 guitar on the NB’s We Want Everything LP in 1980. It was my #1 in Bag O’ Wire and The Barry Kooda Combo, then moved to #2 in Tex & the Saddletramps because it developed problems with the bridge pickup.
Anyway, it was a great guitar with a unique-sounding neck pickup. I am still trying to find that neck pickup sound again, with no luck so far. Charley Wirtz (Charley’s Guitars) commented once “that isn’t the original pickup, I think it’s an old one.”
So what happened to it? Well, I just played it into the ground, I guess. Both pickups were shot, shorted out from my sweat. The frets were worn down to nothing. So, I had to decide about the cost of rebuilding it. I sold it for $400 to a friend of a friend who just wanted a guitar to mess around with, didn’t care about the issues.
P.S. Writing this post got me inspired, so I made some calls. The guy I sold this guitar to sold it in the late 80’s to a “professor at Duke who was a Les Paul collector.” Not too promising for the idea of me buying it back for nostalgia value, but who knows?