Gibson history can be a little sketchy. There’s a lot of speculation, extrapolation and simply filling in the blanks. Their record keeping back in the Golden Era (1957-1964-more or less) was less than stellar and the current administration’s knowledge of what went on back then is sketchy as well. I don’t blame the current owners, certainly. They’ve taken enough heat on other issues (like self tuning guitars, reverse Flying Vees, two piece fingerboards and the fact that they still can’t get the pickup covers right). One of my favorite pastimes (I bore easily) is finding guitars that Gibson never made.
There are always rumors around the guitar community about guitars that aren’t supposed to exist. The ever elusive stop tail 355’s, red 58-59 dot necks, blonde block necks, blonde 355’s and red 59 345’s. Now that I’ve actually owned one of each of these, perhaps it’s time to look for another favorite pastime. In the early days of the internet, when guitar forums were new and we all wanted to be part of these new communities, most of us gave more than a little consideration to what we were going to call ourselves. The possibilities were endless-ES-335Lover? Mr 335?, Dr 335? Professor 335? I chose Red59Dot which I still use on a few sites. The reason I chose it was because I had heard that red 59 dots exist but I had never seen one and didn’t know anybody else who had seen one and had documented it. So, in 1998 or so, that became my screen name and my holy grail.
I found my red dot neck in 2011-a guy from Jersey called me and asked me to meet him with a bag of cash near the waterfront in Jersey City. Sounds like the opening scene in an HBO mob drama. But I did just that and a 59 red dot neck was mine. I sold it a month later. Before that, in 2010, I saw an ad on Craigslist for a 1960 ES-345 in red. It was way overpriced but was a one owner guitar and wasn’t too far away in Utica NY. Again, a bag of cash was a requirement but Utica isn’t much of a location for a crime drama so I was a little less apprehensive (and it was a little less money). I got there and it was a very pretty 345 and as I inspected it more closely realized it was a 59. Overpriced no more, I paid the man and drove away a happy camper. No, I didn’t drive away in a happy camper. I was a happy camper and I drove away in a Prius.
Here’s the problem. It’s really easy to fall in love with a guitar-whether it’s because it’s rare or a great player or just too pretty for words. And I have a rule. Don’t fall in love with the merchandise. If I kept every guitar I felt a strong attachment to, I’d have 100 guitars and no business. I think the 345 was the hardest to sell. I was just starting out in this second career of mine and was really nervous about having that much money tied up in one guitar. But it looked so cool and played so great and had zebra PAFs and it was the very first red one and I had to keep it. I just had to. But I didn’t. A month later I sold it and flew the guitar, in person, to the buyer in Denver. Spent 20 minutes with him at the airport, collected a big pile of cash (or maybe it was a bank check) and flew back to New York. I hated to see it go but rules is rules.
Why am I telling you all this. because yesterday, I got an email from that buyer asking if I wanted to buy it back. He was “thinning the herd” and wanted to know if I was interested. In what might have been the fasted deal ever made, I will have the guitar in my hands in less than 12 hours. You probably think the end of the story is I keep the guitar and never let it out of my sight again. Nope. Rules is rules and it will be out the door in a week. But I get to play it again. And look at it and almost love it. Almost. You know the rule.