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  • Bill Frisell and his 1968 ES-175 finally reunited

    Bill Frisell,Now and again you come across a story about a vintage guitar that is just too good not to share and this really is one of them. Bill Frisell is a highly respected American guitarist, composer and arranger who was for a long time the ‘in-house’ guitar player for the ECM label, as well as being a bandleader and solo artist in his own right.

    Although he has been known for playing solid body guitars for many years, his first significant jazz guitar was a 1968 Gibson ES-175. After playing this guitar through much of his formative years, he finally sold the instrument before moving briefly to Europe. Realising that he had probably made a huge mistake in selling the guitar, Frisell then spent much of the next 37 years trying to track down it’s whereabouts via a serial number.

    For most people this would likely have been a fruitless search, as vintage guitars can often change hands privately without ever going through a dealer. In Frisell’s case however, luck was definitely on his side as he had an old friend working for the Gibson company who miraculously found a Facebook advert with what he felt might just be Bill’s old guitar. Upon further investigation and a check of the serial number, it did indeed turn out to be his original guitar. Delighted that he had finally found his old guitar Bill then purchased it back. The video below details the whole story in Bill’s own words and you can also see and hear him playing it. He looks a happy man too!

    Just Great Guitars – The Vintage Guitar Story III

    Fender Princeton Reverb, vintage guitar,Here’s Part III (and the final part) of the interview with Russ (owner/buyer/founder of JGG) conducted by Huw Price.

    Russ also has a predilection for small Fender valve amps, so what’s the reason for that?

    ‘Well occasionally I end up buying amps when I can’t find any guitars to buy. Everybody knows about the Blackface Fenders, but lots of people are unaware that for the first year of the Silverface models they had an aluminium trim around the grille cloth. If you find one like that you can be pretty confident there’s a Blackface circuit amp inside that Silverface cabinet. At the moment I’m really enjoying playing through my Deluxe Reverb as well as various Princetons and Champs.

    Nobody could accuse Russ of guitar snobbery either..

    vintage guitar,One guitar that I think really illustrates where I’m coming from as a vintage guitar buyer is my 1958 Premier Bantam Deluxe by Multivox. I was so amazed to discover that they had this sparkly pickguard material in the late 1950s. After I bought it I did some research and discovered that people think these pickups are fantastic and the white version this guitar has is the best one. They were made by Rowe of Toledo, Ohio so that means they’re actually DeArmonds. It’s got a rounded 50s style neck and they made an all gold model too. The only drawback of being an on line business rather than a shop is that I can’t put a guitar like this in the hands of a customer that I think will appreciate it. Guitars like this are hard to sell on the web, so I can only buy so many before I’m over stocked. It’s a shame because to me this is a delight.

    Supro-Dualtone-3549, vintage guitar,‘I’ve also got a Supro Dual Tone with the lovely big tuning keys and although it’s not particularly joyful to play it has a lovely sound. I ran into a guy wandering around with a Kay Galaxie and it was so cheap I bought it. It’s kind of funky and I like the colour.’ Japanese solid body replicas can be superb, but they were just as good at making jazzboxes. ‘I was always a fan of the Gibson Howard Roberts and on my last trip I was lucky enough to buy two of them. One is a Gibson Howard Roberts Fusion and the other was a bit of a surprise. ‘Everything about it looks right, from the tailpiece to the soundpost but it says Electra on the headstock. Now I think it’s an Ibanez and the quality is stunning. The initials on the scratchplate are GHG, for George H Goodness who played with a group called The Mel-O-tones. It’s such a deal for somebody because it’s a cheap guitar and it’s as good as the equivalent Gibson.’

    Fortunately Russ’ old Eko didn’t turn him off flat top acoustics for life.

    ‘I’m really fond of Gibson B25s and I’ve got sunburst and natural ones. They’ve got small mahogany body and people just fall in love with them because of their charm and they have become quite expensive. ‘After I got my Gibson J60 I did quite a bit of research and it’s actually an advanced jumbo, which means it has forward shifted X bracing. Apparently Gibson Montana only made twelve like mine in walnut. I’d call guitars like these heritage guitars because you’ll end up passing them onto your kids. ‘My daughter is eight and she’s quite musical and she likes to sing. She taught herself how to sing ‘My Funny Valentine’ and we do it together with me on either my ’54 or ’64 ES175. She even lets me take a solo in the middle.’