andy reiss

This blonde Gibson Kessel model was purchased by Reiss several years ago and appears on the back cover of the Time Jumpers’ new album. Reiss believes it may be the only Kessel in a blonde finish.

The Time Jumpers guitarist talks about how he fell for a rare Gibson model, his instrument lineup for the group’s new album, and playing in a four-guitar band with Vince Gill, Ranger Doug, and steel giant Paul Franklin.

We’ve all been haunted by the desire for a certain guitar or other magnificent piece of gear. For Nashville 6-string strongman Andy Reiss of Grammy-nominated Western swing band the Time Jumpers, the axe of his dreams is the Gibson Barney Kessel model—an attractive, ergonomic, and classically voiced archtop built between 1961 and 1972 at the company’s original Kalamazoo factory.

Reiss’ magnetic attraction to the big-bodied jazz box began in his adolescence and became a lifelong affair. “I was probably 12 or 13 years old, and I would take the streetcar to downtown San Francisco to Sherman Clay [a legendary music store that served the Bay Area for 142 years before closing in 2013],” Reiss recently recounted backstage at 3rd & Lindsley, the Nashville club where the Time Jumpers perform nearly every Monday night. “You could play the Fenders—the Jaguars and all that stuff, which I thought was great. But they had this big cabinet, and up on top was the Barney Kessel. It was like, ‘There it is! The Holy Grail!’ They wouldn’t let you touch it. It was awesome. I was haunted by it through the years—it was the thing I aspired to. Every time I saw one, I thought, ‘Ooooo … a Barney Kessel. When I make it, I’ll have that guitar.’”

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