Intro: Admittedly, this story may be strictly a shrug-inducer for those who are not guitarists or have never been in bands with guitar players. But if you are an axe-slinger or a musical associate of one, hang on for “the big reveal.”
My sister Sandy–living in a nearby duplex with her future husband Rich until days before–had packed up the essentials, the couple now permanently moved to Florida. After they’ve settled in, Sandy phones to tell me Rich left his guitar behind for me, it resting atop some discarded carpets in the garage they shared with the upstairs tenants.
This came as a double-surprise. First off, I’d been in a hundred bands (or so it seemed), but never played guitar…though I appreciated the kind gesture and had knowledge of what constituted a quality guitar, via hanging around with (at least) a hundred guitarists.
Secondly, I had no idea Rich played.
“He took lessons long ago, but didn’t stick with it.”
Okay, I’m figuring it’s a beginner’s acoustic, and almost blow off picking it up. Then I thought, “I have screwed around with friends’ guitars a bit; maybe someone will teach me a few chords, and I can have a bit of fun with the thing.”
Over to the duplex I go, surprised and concerned that I was able to make my way to the garage without encountering any locked doors. Anyone else could have done the same, easily swiping the instrument. Or, for that matter, one of the upstairs tenants may have already done the deed.
Fortunately, neither occurred.
But, hmm, this guitar case with a generic brand name emblazoned on it seems too small to house an acoustic. As soon as I lift it, the weight confirms my suspicion. That’s cool. I already have an amp for my synthesizer and would much prefer to goof around on an electric, regardless of whether it was an off-brand. It’s not like I need a “genuine rock star guitar.”
Still, curiosity inspires me to pop open the case then and there rather than when I get home. I immediately learn why it weighs so much, having spent decades helping bandmates lug this model around.
Because it is a LES PAUL!!!
Good thing those carpets were there to prevent my lower jaw from hitting the concrete floor.
Once home, I run the serial number through the identification engine on the Gibson website, to confirm it isn’t merely a knock-off, as they abound. Nope, on top of it being the real deal, it is a rare model called “The Paul,” only produced from 1978 to 1982. (Mine is a ’78.)
Because Rich didn’t play it very long, it has no pick scratches or buckle rash, and the neck is super-straight. There is some minor oxidation on the Humbuckers, though it isn’t enough to affect the sound. And I believe it even has the original strings(!)
Guess it was a pretty wise decision not to blow off fetching it, huh?