Coincidences & Satellites (Vintage 1967 TeleStar Professional Sparkle 5002 Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1967 TeleStar Professional Sparkle 5002 Electric Guitar

Over many years of writing about and photographing guitars, I’ve had numerous occasion to take pictures of guitars “on location.” That means packing up rather bulky photographic gear—cameras, tripods, lights, backdrops—and voyaging near and far. Sometimes this took place at a vintage guitar shop, sometimes at a collector’s place. When it came to the subject of TeleStar guitars, I got to combine both.

I Get Around (Vintage 1967 Gretsch Corvette 6135 Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1967 Gretsch Corvette 6135 Electric Guitar

Get around round round I get around/I’m a real cool head/Get around round round I get around/I’m makin’ real good bread. Back in the day, The Beach Boys were often pictured with what was sort of their “band car,” a Chevy Corvette Stingray. There was some spiritual force that inextricably linked hot rods and guitars back in the early to mid-1960s. Rock and roll and Big Daddy Roth kind of went together. Just ask Billy Gibbons. Or just consider this 1967 Gretsch Corvette 6135.

Everybody knows there’s no basement at the Alamo! (Vintage 1964 Alamo Titan Mark II Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1964 Alamo Titan Mark II Electric Guitar

As I’ve said many times, one of the privileges of writing about off-beat guitars is that I get to do detective work and, when I’m lucky (and in time!), talk to someone who had a direct hand in bringing us the guitars in question. I had to dig hard to uncover something about Alamo guitars and I was both lucky and luckily in time with this story!

From the Temple of Doom (II): Carson & Gavin [Vintage 1974 Carvin CM95 Electric Guitar]

Vintage 1974 Carvin CM95 Electric Guitar

“Suppose,” enticed the email message (back when email messages were still something of a novelty), “I could get you into a strip mall that has one music store and the rest of the spaces are FILLED WITH GUITARS?” Thus began a remarkable once-in-a-lifetime adventure that involved packing up my photographic gear into jerry-rigged thrift shop suitcases, hopping onto an airplane to head west, joining Tom, a knife salesman I’d never met except on the internet and at the other end of a telephone line, and driving up to Bob’s House of Music in Wheat Ridge, CO, just north of Denver. Where I would encounter more vintage guitars—including this 1974 Carvin CM95—than anyone could ever conceive! The second Temple of Doom of my life (so far).

Matsumoku’s Atak Gains The Ad-Vantage (Vintage 1984 Quest Atak-6 MK II Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1984 Quest Atak-6 MK II Electric Guitar

I count myself among the many of you who have discovered just how good guitars made by the Matsumoku factory in Matsumoto City, Japan, really are. Or were. They still exist as artifacts but have not been made more than two decades now.

From the Temple of Doom (I): Koob, Albert, Patricia, and Adeline

1966 Kapa Continental 12-String

Imagine someone telling you about an old-time music store that had a huge stash of unsold guitars from the 1960s, plus some guitar effects from the ‘70s lying around in its upper floors in Newark, NJ. Well, you can bet it didn’t take long for me to beat a path to the door of Newark Music City (calm down; this was a long time ago and, while the company still exists, it’s long gone from Newark). Even though I was late in the game, there were still unmined treasures to be had. A real Temple of Doom!

Hair Bands, Soviet Russia & the 1989 Kramer Gorky Park Electric Guitar

1989 Kramer Gorky Park Electric Guitar

Behind every guitar there’s some sort of story, but they usually aren’t as rich as the one behind the Kramer Gorky Park seen here! Not only was this guitar associated with one of the big flash-in-the-pan pop metal bands of the late 1980s, it symbolically and almost literally marked the end of Kramer, as the largest guitar company in the world was crumbling just like the Iron Curtain!

A Sharp Venture (1968 Guyatone LG-350T Sharp 5 Electric Guitar)

1968 Guyatone LG-350T Sharp 5 Vintage Electric Guitar

Well, well, well. What have we here? On the surface, of course, it’s a 1968 Guyatone LG-350T Sharp 5. A sight little seen in North America, but not uncommon in Japan, at least once upon a time. And if it makes you think of a little bit of a Mosrite on drugs, well then you’re not too far off the mark! Welcome to a bit about the Ventures and the early world of copy guitars!

Walk, Don’t Run! (1967 Heit Deluxe V-2 Electric Guitar)

1967 Heit Deluxe V-2 Vintage Electric Guitar

What is it about the Japanese and the Ventures? I mean, I cut my teeth with the Ventures. They were the perfect band to learn guitar from. The Ventures took songs with often complex harmonic structures—like the wonderful Johnny Smith classic—and stripped them down to their basic melodies, gave them a simple rock groove, and played them clean. I had the sheet music to Smith’s song, but there was no way in you know where I was gong to play off that. But follow along with the Ventures’ single? You bet!

Tension Reduction, But Not With Shiatsu (1990 PBC GTS 200S Electric Guitar)

1990 PBC GTS 200S Electric Guitar

How often have you ever walked into a music store—an admittedly increasingly exotic experience in this internet age—and had the salesman practically beg you to buy a guitar at a bargain basement price? My guess is not often! Nevertheless, that’s exactly what happened to me with this 1990 PBC GTS 200S!