Finding Treasures
“In 1978, I bought a D’Angelico New Yorker for $1800 and learned about a whole new level of sound.

“The following year, I bought a Stromberg Deluxe for $800 and a Brazilian rosewood Martin D-35 for not much more.The year after that a truly spectacular Stromberg Master 400 came my way for two grand. A 1924 Lloyd Loar-signed L-5 was offered for the staggering sum of $4000 dollars and I declined. But my wife, Faye, bought it for me.

“Those prices, ludicrous by today’s standards, strained my budget. Faye, a skilled musician herself, was content to play one mandolin, but she never held me back. Quite the contrary; as guitars began soaring in value, it was my brilliant, beautiful spouse, eerily prescient, who encouraged me to trade up before all the good stuff was out of reach.

“I began buying, selling, trading, and poring over instrument lists mailed out by vintage guitar dealers— a relatively nascent profession at the time. I studied want ads and used my lunch hour at the hospital to track down interesting sounding items. Ignorance, confusion, and flat-out larceny prevailed, and most of these detective jaunts ended in futility. But once in a while I struck gold:

“A hippie living in a Hollywood crash pad sold me his ’34 Gibson L-5, housed in a battered leather case festooned with international travel stickers, because he was going to meditate full-time and no longer needed ‘help.’

“A prosperous Mexican-American businessman brought his late father’s glorious deadmint 1940 Epiphone Emperor to my private office waiting room after hours, accepted my check with tears in his eyes and told me he was happy someone would be playing it again.”

–Jonathan Kellerman

In the Zone
“Our family reveres music and musicians, and creating music together brings us closer. When we play, a kind of hypnotic calm settles over us, such that it’s useless to try and talk to us. We know that if Dad is in the zone, noodling around, you’d better wait before telling him anything of importance; he might nod and smile distantly, but he won’t hear you. The flip side being that if you need to confess something—a speeding ticket or a broken vase—that is the best time to do it.” –Jesse Kellerman (Jonathan’s son)

Vintage Bliss 1934 D’Angelico Excel
“The Excel model was produced between ’34 and ’64 (the year of John D’Angelico’s death), and many players and collectors consider the Excel to be one of the finest — and most collectible — jazz guitars ever made. This highly prized 1934 model (non-cutaway) was constructed at the pinnacle of the Golden Age of Jazz and the Big Band Era, and is adorned with period Art Deco appointments. Typical market prices now start in the $20,000 range.”

–Jim Bastian,
Vintage archtop expert and dealer

1965 Fender Jazz Bass
“1965 was the year the Beatles invaded Shea Stadium. More important, at least to me anyway, this was the year Fender was sold to CBS. It’s also the year of this beauty. This was an important last year of many features on the Jazz Bass. It was the last year of dot position markers, unbound original profile necks, original style tuners, and “warm” sunburst finishes. The no-logo case was being phased out and the Golden Era of Fender quite frankly was over.

The ’65 Jazz Bass is one of the basses you must own in your lifetime. These basses tend to set up with low action and devastating tone. You can get tones from creamy smooth and deep bottoms to that midrange-in-yer-face attack. Just listen to any Led Zeppelin album— John Paul Jones used an early ’64 Jazz Bass. The Candy Apple Red, custom color beauty seen here is dressed down to battle regalia (less the funk filters—that’s no covers or thumb rest to the civilian crowd) and is ready to play at a moment’s notice. If you can remove your drool cup for a moment and wish to buy one, figure $12,500 to $16,000, depending upon condition.”

–Kevin Borden
Vintage bass enthusiast
President of Good Guys Guitars
Vintage Bliss