By Tom Beaujour
As you might have gathered from our recent blog posts, last week found Guitar Aficionado at the 2011 NAMM show in Anaheim, California, where we were able to see the latest and greatest products the world’s fine instrument and amplifier manufacturers have to offer.
On Saturday, fully satiated by the new, we travelled 20 miles south to Costa Mesa, to the 2011 California World Guitar Show, for a much-needed vintage fix. The dealers were out in force, and many of the six-stringed wares were truly drool-worthy. As usual, Gibson and Fender were the order of the day, but a healthy population of Rickenbackers and Gretsches were also on hand to be to be perused and picked.
Perhaps more interesting were several tables at which dealers with more rarefied tastes displayed less valuable, but utterly cool guitars and amps like the Stellas and other delights seen here.
Fans of “superstrats” and other “pointy” guitars also found the eye-candy to be in ample supply. Vintage Charvels were plentiful, and this Performance Guitars “Fireball” axe, previously owned by Steve Vai and featured on the cover of Guitar Aficionado sister publication Guitar World, was a favorite ogling destination for the fleet-fingered set.
Perhaps most exciting to this particular guitar journalist was the checkerboard Hamer Standard (serial number 127) that collectors intrepid enough to venture to the furthest reaches of the convention hall were lucky enough to find. One of three Hamers ever created in this finish, this guitar was built for Paul Simon, who gave it as a gift to his son, Harper. A truly rare bird, and one that had more than a little sentimental value to me: as a teenager I was an acquaintance of Harper’s, and once played this very guitar at his house, in 1984. To see it again after 27 years, and some 3,000 miles away, was a reminder that every guitar at such a show has probably seen more cities, states, and owners than we could ever imagine.