A Pointy Guitar (page 1, page 2, page 3)
By, William Stephens

That recording session in Hollywood would be my last because I had finally got fed up with the business. I heard that over the next month or two the producer kept fiddling with the master tapes so much that he finally ruined them by setting them on top of his television set... brilliant!

Except for playing the V for my own amusement from time to time, good old number 108 sat safely in its case for the next 8 years.

THEN SUDDENLY...

One day in 1991 my old time bass player Norm came to visit. We reminisced a bit and the subject of my V came up. I said "yeah I play it from time to time but, I would really like to restore it back to original, maybe send it back to Gibson." Norm said "Don't do that, I know a guy..." When anyone says "I know a guy" my suspicions go up immediately, but coming from Norm, I trusted his judgement. Norm had dabbled in the art of the luthier and did a great job when he did, he's a meticulous crafstman. The short of this is that when Norm left for home that day he had my V and my bag of original parts under his arm and that's the last I saw of them for the next 9 months.

I went about my business as usual and I almost forgot about my V but really, how can you forget about your best friend. About 6 months into this absence I started bugging the luthier about a done date or something. He said he was working on it and said "you want the thing right, don't you... patience is a virtue".

I heard that this particular luthier made some of his money by making knock-offs, fake antiqued collectors item guitars. I visited the V at his shop one day and he had a 58 Les Paul gold top with the knarliest finish cracks, with dirt in them even. That little gem was going for $24,000.00 and was already sold to a collector. Was that guitar a counterfit or was it authentic? I could not tell by examining it, it looked a tired 34 years old but I don't really know and he would never tell me the truth anyway. I heard he also made other knock offs like V's, Firebirds, Explorers and others, all Gibson of course because Gibson's were his specialty for some reason. There's a bit of mystery surrounding this guy, I just hope he does a good job.

9 months pass and I get the call that my V is ready. I rush over to the luthier's shop, walk in and see him coming out of the backroom carrying my V case. He sets it down on the front counter, pops the latches, lifts the lid...

AND THIS IS WHAT I SAW!
Click here to see it.

I am not a collector as is not the case with many of my associates over the years. I had two guitars at one time for just a breif time in 1970. I'm a one guitar guy and have had very few guitars over the years. I started off with some nameless acoustic guitar my aunt graciously lent me and she mainly used it to decorate the room in 1963. Soon I graduated to a Sears Silvertone double pickup solid body, model 57 H 1420L and use that until Christmas 1965.

On Christmas morning I went down to the presents and leaning up against the wall was a guitar case, inside was a 1964 Ampeg Burns of London Wild Dog Split Sound Jazz Guitar. I was ecstatic! This was my first professional guitar and really was a dream come true. My dad had to pull some strings to get it, later I found out that he was trying to get me a V but he could not locate one.

I used the Burns for many years and it got a little wear in the process. One day around 1970, I gave it to my cousin Paul who was a gutiar aficianado and wanted to restore it. By that time it was almost unplayable. It took a few years but one day Paul sent me a picture of it, fully restored.
Click here to see it.

Later on I had a Gibson Melody Maker which I sympathy-gave to Al after he "accidentally" broke the head off his Firebird, an Ovation acoustic, and a nice Rickenbacker 330. By 1971 only the Rickenbacker was still in my possesion. That Rick bought me the V and the V is still with me today.

It's hard to convey just how unavailable cool stuff was back then, rock and roll in some ways was still considered a passing fad to many people. When you went into a music store what you found was music, rows and rows of marching band sheet music or piano arrangements like an old time record store. Additionally there would be your sax, clarinet and oboe/bassoon reeds, ligatures, a few clarinets, saxaphones, trombones and the ever popular bossa nova drum kit. And last, nailed up on the wall as a decoration would be a nameless acoustic round hole guitar. Thankfully by 1971 things had improved drastically.

That pointy guitar, good old number 108 and myself play from time to time in a quiet room without an amp. No more festivals, tours, gigs or clubs. We may make a very rare appearance together at a family gathering, maybe accompanied by some drums and the ubiquitous accordion entertaining the small but captive crowd.



2010 update to this article