The late Barry Weber, a well-known and beloved
gearhead known as FrankenStrat2 on The Gear
“What does it mean to be a gearhead?”
That is a question that can be answered in
many ways. There are people who create,
play, maintain, buy, and sell gear for a living.
And, of course, there are people who
are passionately involved with playing, tinkering
with, and collecting gear as a hobby.
I suppose one could quantify the concept
with some kind of formula involving variables
like years played, repairs made, and
degree of finish fade on their favorite axe.
However, that would miss the point entirely.
Being a gearhead can mean so much more
than being passionate about gear. That is
the conclusion I’ve come to after pondering
the loss of Barry Weber. Maybe you recognize
the name and face from various guitar
shops and gear shows you’ve been to. He’s
certainly frequented them all over the country.
Maybe you know him as FrankenStrat2
on The Gear Page forums. Or maybe you’ve
never heard of him before. If so, allow me
to introduce you to who he was.
Weber was president of Edith Weber Inc.
on Madison Avenue in New York City. Edith
Weber Antique Jewelry has specialized
in fine antique jewelry for more than 50
years. That’s what it said on his bio page for
, for which he was an
appraiser—maybe you’ll recognize him from
his many TV appearances. Despite having a
distinct career and identity in a completely
different industry, Weber had another side
to him. He was also a gearhead.
He played a mean slide guitar. He devoured
guitar magazines. He was constantly on the
lookout for gear. He loved jamming with his
buds. He particularly enjoyed trying to get
great tones out of anything, especially gear
that was unfamiliar or gear that was always
pigeonholed as only suitable for a particular
kind of music or playing. He always viewed
the challenge with an open mind.
Bladder cancer took Weber’s life at the
early age of 59. He had pretty much beat
the disease at one point, but it came back
aggressively and won this time. News of his
passing triggered emotional responses in a
Gear Page forum thread that revealed much
about who he was.
Not only did people comment on his amazing
slide technique, they talked about his
penchant for putting jams together among
forum members. Operators of gear shows
spoke of his willingness to moderate panels,
organize social gatherings around
events, and help with anything when asked.
People who bought gear from him or sold
anything to him described how their business
transactions were secondary compared
to the friendships that emerged. There was
talk of his willingness to let you play his guitar
or amp. There was talk of his patience
to teach people simple amp mods. There
was talk of how assertive he was in trying
to preserve quality discourse on the forum,
and there was talk of his fairness when
debating the qualities of gear companies
People posted pictures of Weber playing
guitar and hanging with friends at gear
gatherings all over the country. They posted
audio clips and YouTube videos of him playing
at jams and emceeing gear forums. His
tone and his personality were captivating.
One forum member talked about Weber
helping him find the motivation to play
again after putting the guitar down for
a while to deal with some deaths in the
family. Another person talked about dealing
with a table saw injury that jeopardized
his ability to play. After reading about it on
TGP, Weber sent him a note, called him,
and assured him he would be able to play
again. He was right.
I didn’t know Weber well, but I had the
chance to shake his hand and hear him
play at gear shows a few times. A friend
who has been a part of his legendary Casa
Weber jams for years introduced me. My
brief encounter with Weber resonates with
the stories I’ve heard and the outpouring of
love on the Gear Page thread. His personality
and his positive nature had a way of
influencing the entire room and, apparently,
Weber’s name isn’t famous for being on
large venue marquees or the grill cloths of
notable amps, but that doesn’t mean he
wasn’t one helluva gearhead. As far as I
know, he might’ve been the consummate
gearhead. And judging by the type of person
he was to so many friends and fellow
guitarists online, we’re certain he was so
much more than just a gearhead to his closest
friends and family members. To them
and everyone else whose life Barry Weber
touched, we here at Premier Guitar
our deepest condolences and heartfelt
wishes for comfort and peace as they deal
with his loss.