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Rick Kelly Guitars

Rick Kelly Guitars

Some have said that the New York luthier Rick Kelly makes his guitars from the city”™s old bones. They speak of his signature style, which involves building guitars from the old wood that once made up establishments in the city”™s historic districts, such as the Bowery ”“ once a murky landscape of vice, home to smoky flophouses, dark dive bars, and gambling holes. But amid this squalor existed an authenticity and ruggedness of character that has since become part of the city”™s DNA, and New Yorkers constantly lament the damage to this lineage when fabled institutions such as Chumley”™s pub, established in 1922, are closed down. But Kelly makes his Fender-influenced guitars from the wooden hearts of such faded establishments, and over time musicians as esteemed and diverse as Bob Dylan, Bill Frisell, Lenny Kaye, Patti Smith, and Lou Reed have all adopted his instruments. His shop, Carmine Street Guitars, is in the West Village.

From 10,000 Hours: Rick Kelly, Luthier.

Such an amazing video. It talks to the heart of what it means to be a true artisan, an intelligent hand. Rick’s shop is at Carmine Street Guitars.

Cp Thornton Guitars

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To date I have personally built more than 100 guitars and basses. Each an act of passion, dedication and discipline. With CP Thornton Guitars, I am fulfilling a lifetime dream”¦ to create heirloom quality instruments for musicians who seek that rare balance between breath-taking beauty and engineering excellence. With mass production dominating the music industry today, a truly master-built instrument is rare. Each Thornton model has been designed specifically for its purpose and sonic signature.

Chuck Thornton

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In designing this model, I didn”™t try to reinvent the wheel, because I have tremendous respect for the Fender Telecaster. I just tried to make it more player friendly. I kept the essential original features, and made subtle changes to the shape of the horn, the neck angle, and the headstock angle. Of course, The Classic has my unique inset neck joint so it can be played all the way up the fretboard without changing your hand position.

Cp Thornton on the Classic.

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It is our belief that Chuck Thornton is one of the very few who has successfully taken on the task of redesigning the most classic of all solidbody guitars ever made and has managed to significantly improve its ergonomics, playability, touch sensitivity and intonation while preserving every drop of its vintage tone and feel. No easy task. And the best part is that it now can be yours by purchasing one of the CP Thornton Classics that Destroy All Guitars has commissioned Chuck to build.

Destroy All Guitars on the Classic.

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What a beautiful instrument! In stock and fairly priced.

For Cp Thornton, making guitars is his calling.

It was his destiny. Here are some more of his guitars.

 

Tao Guitars

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“So, you are thinking about a Telecaster style guitar huh?”

“Yes, I am.”

“What about a Tao T-bucket?”

“I’ll get back to you.”

I had not heard of Tao Guitars. This is from their website:

The machine is not master & tyrant, but willing servant and helper, and the products do not take their physiognomy from mechanical technology but from the spirit of their artistic originator and from the dexterity of artistically skilled hands. It is better to work ten days on an article than producing ten articles a day, this is the ruling principal. Style as identity.

Belgian luthiers Serge Michiels and John Joveniaux are the talented people behind Tao Guitars. They build some unique models including their namesake, the Tao Guitar.

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The T-Bucket, starting at roughly $5,000USD is available through their North American dealer Custom Guitar Boutique. Tao Guitars also have a Phaeton model that prices out at $24,000.

The attention to detail in the Phaeton can be seen even inside the guitar.

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The build looks amazing.

More details about the builders from Premier Guitar.

1958 Stratocaster

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I turn 58 in a few days. Still living the dream.

Last year was a 57/57 year. Born in 1957 and 57 years old. Surely it was time for a 1957 Fender Stratocaster? Sadly that did not happen. I mean, yes, I turned 57 but no. No 1957 Stratocaster.

Perhaps this is the year. I turn 58 and I could get a 1958 Relic Stratocaster from the Fender Custom Shop. Like the one pictured above. A relic Strat for an old relic like me.

This is what Fender had to say about the guitar:

Perfected into its current form by 1958, the Stratocaster in that year was poised for greatness and had already found its way into the hands of several legendary artists. As a musically wild new decade loomed on the not-so-distant horizon, the already ahead-of-its-time Stratocaster was ready for anything as the 1950s wound to a rocking ‘n’ rolling close.

I called the team at the custom shop and they told me that sorry, we stopped building those guitars in 2011. But there might be one for sale in Sweden.

And sure enough, there it was. An original 1958 Fender Stratocaster. I guess the custom shop folks need to do a bit more work on the relic side of their reissues. This original certainly looks like a relic. The custom shop guitar? Not so much.

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But, sold.

How much though?

Well, if you have to ask you can find out here.

Still not satisfied? There was another one here.

And, if you don’t want to click through the links, a 1958 Stratocaster can sell for about $60,000. Unless it has been played by someone really famous. Then it could be much higher. Or, if it has been signed by someone famous. And then the age of the guitar really doesn’t matter.

The more signatures, though, the better.

This 2004 Fender Standard Stratocaster fetched a staggering $2.8 million as part of an auction to aid victims of the 2004 tsunami disaster.

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It was signed by Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Brian May, Liam Gallagher, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Ray Davies, David Gilmour, Bryan Adams, Tony Iommi, Mark Knopfler, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Paul McCartney, Sting and Noel Gallagher.

I believe it still holds the record as the most expensive guitar ever sold.

By comparison, $60,000 for a 1958 Stratocaster seems pretty cheap.

I’m not getting my hopes up though. I thought I had made it pretty clear last year about a 1957 Stratocaster for my birthday. But this is what I got instead:

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Colourful.

Not a Strat.

Drat.

Les Paul Black Beauty Sold

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As mentioned in previous posts here and here, there was quite a range of opinion on how much this guitar would sell at auction. And looking at the news feeds above, even the media can’t seem to decide. Somewhere between $250,000 and $350,000USD. Much less than the forecast of $2 million.

Jim Irsay bought the guitar. Irsay is the owner and CEO of the Indianapolis Colts. He has a guitar curator, Christopher McKinney, to manage his collection of roughly 175 guitars. That collection also includes Jerry Garcia’s Tiger. Irsay paid $957,000 for that guitar.

Jim Irsay’s net worth is about $1.75 billion. He also holds guitars that were previously owned by George Harrison and Elvis Presley.

Build Your Own Boutique Stratocaster

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The Fender Custom shop released this 1954 Heavy Relic Stratocaster in 2014. The instrument had an MSRP of about $4,700USD. It celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster. George Gruhn sold the first production Stratocaster guitar made in 1954 for $250,000USD last year. I guess a guitar can be a worthwhile investment. If you pick the right one.

But how much would it cost to build your own boutique Strat?

We would need a neck and a body. MusiKraft is a logical candidate. It is Fender licensed and it offers high quality components that you can customize to your own needs.

I would order a 10” radius neck with heavily rolled edges and a bone nut at a cost of $395. And a one piece swamp ash body for $475.

Since I want the same kind of relic treatment as the 1954 Strat, I would have them send the body over to MJT Custom Aged Guitar Finishes with a shipping charge of $40. I would have to spend about $500 to relic the neck and body.

I would need to get some distressed hardware and Callaham Vintage Parts would be able to help me out for about $300. And about $20 for shipping.

I still need some pickups and for those I would head over to Sliders. A nice set of Classic 57s would do. Roughly $350. Plus shipping.

A bit of wiring and assembly, and a really nice G&G guitar case, and I should be able to finish things off for another $250.

So, let’s see. We would likely close in on $2,500 for an overall cost of the parts.

Whether it would play as well as a Custom Shop Stratocaster is another question. They do nothing but build amazing instruments. I, on the other hand, have only ever assembled one guitar from parts.

And I don’t play that one.

Fender Custom Shop Zombie Stratocaster

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My son is a big fan of the Walking Dead. And a big fan of zombies generally. So this post is for him.

At the 2015 NAMM, the Fender Custom Shop highlighted some of their more unique instruments:

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The second guitar from the left is a bit hard to make out so perhaps a closer view is in order:

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Ah yes. A Zombie Stratocaster. Handbuilt by John Cruz. He is the individual pictured just to the right of the guitar.

John Cruz started working at Fender in 1987 and went over to the custom shop in 1993. He has been a master builder since 2003. I’ve played a few of his guitars and they are awesome.

This is what John had to say about the Fender Custom Shop Zombie Stratocaster:

“It”™s my tribute to The Walking Dead series, which I”™m a big fan of,” said Cruz. “Even though it”™s not really the characters, it”™s a tribute to that genre. I wanted to show a different side of me, that I could do some artistic type of stuff, as well. And something that caters to different musical forms.”

Joaquin Lopez did the painting and Ron Thorn did the inlays. In this video, John talks about the instrument:

Les Paul Black Beauty

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Joe Bonamassa is an avid guitar collector. He owns hundreds of guitars.

His favorite guitar is a ”™59 Les Paul Sunburst, a “Holy Grail” that he actually takes on the road with him.

“I tour nine months a year,” Bonamassa told Gibson.com, in a 2011 interview. “What am I going to do, come home and noodle with it on the couch? Go, ”˜Wow look at this, I”™ve got a ”™59 Les Paul that never gets used, maybe on a recording here and there.”™ I”™d rather get a nice case for it–which I did–hire an ex-secret service agent as my security guard–which I did [laughs]–and take it on the road.” In an interview with AmericanBluesScene.com, Bonamassa praised the ”˜59”™ Les Paul”™s extraordinary tone. “I have over 300 guitars, but out of all of them, that one is definitely my favorite.”

He was also asked about the Les Paul Black Beauty which is going to auction tomorrow evening. Speculation is that the guitar might fetch upwards of $2 million. Here is what Joe had to say about the guitar:

As for Bonamassa, he says he wouldn”™t pay $10,000 for it. That”™s after paying $410,000 for one of his Les Paul guitars. Those are all Standard sunbursts from 1958 to 1960.

“What it is is a carved up old Les Paul Custom that Les modified and gave to Tom,” says Bonamassa. “I think Tom has the best of intentions with the guitar but Tom, because of his closeness to Les, may have an unrealistic value in his mind.”

One more sleep before we find out for sure.