There once was a traveling guitar buyer (not me) who literally drove around the US in his new Volvo station wagon searching out vintage guitars. He would stop in every little town, pick up every newspaper, flyer, phone book, church circular and scour every bulletin board, his patience was endless. If there was a band playing that night he stuck around, made friends, sat in and pried many a Martin from under a farmhouse bed. (helluva player too) He had found hundreds of instruments this way and loved the solitude of the open road.
Well he's in Idaho going though a small postage stamp of a town and he stops in the local coffee shop and picks up the local paper, flips to the classifieds (1/4 of one page) and it sez, cryptically, "For Sale: Gibson Flying V guitar, $350 or best offer". His curiosity peaked, he pulls out his trusty cell phone (this is maybe 15 years ago, so it's like a steam powered phone, but it works) dials the number and the hunt is on.
The story: The fella with the V, has had it literally under his bed for 30 years, it was left as security on a loan from his brother in law, all those years ago. The amount of the loan? $350. He nor his wife have heard from the black sheep brother in law for 30 years and assume he met his demise in the bars and rough jobs that peppered his life.
The guy with the V wants to put an addition on his house and figures the "gee-tar" ain't doin' anybody much good under the bed and puts an ad in 5 of the local papers,.... our hero is calling from almost 150 miles away!!
The phone call is polite and informative, a description of the guitar is given "Sota' yellah' colored,........ metal "V" nailed to the face,....... raised silver Gibson logo on the arrow shaped headstock,............ serial number? sorta like ink, in black, starts with a 9".
Gentlemen, start your engines!
Our hero wastes no time and tells the owner, the guitar is sold, he'll drive in with the cash as fast as his Volvo will carry him, he gives the guy his cell number and he's off.
Now let me just say that this starts around 8am in the morning and is the first day of the adds' run. Well, he's on the road no more than a half hour when the cell rings, Mr. V sez, there's been another call and someone has offered him $450, our hero sez he'll give him $550 just hold on til he gets there.
10min later ....ring!......Mr. V says he's got an offer of $1,000, our hero trying to get a foot hold offers $2,000. 5 min later....Mr. V has an offer of $5,000....our hero offers $7,500. The Volvo is plowing through inclement weather, wind and rain and racing to what is a destination for several vintage buyers.
He's within 60 miles...the phone rings and exasperated Mr. V sez...."you might as well save your gas, son, I answer the phone, someone offers me more money...I hang up, and the phone rings immediately....they offer me money...I hang up, it rings again.....I had no idea this thing was so valuable!"
"What's the offer now?" our hero asks breathlessly.
"$20,000......see I told you,..... just let it go"
Our hero has $30,000 on him, the whole roll, all the marbles, if he could just freakin get there!! He could close the deal, none of the other dealers has made it there either.
"I really want that guitar, I'll give you $25,000, just don't sell it before I get there!!
FINALLY he pulls up into the small town Idaho-ian town, finds Mr. V's house, and staggers up the front steps. Mr. V is a pleasant man who hasn't had this much excitement in quite a while, maybe WW2. The guy has a forlorn look on his face and tells our hero he has driven all this way for nothing. A fella from LA is flying in with $50,000 CASH!!
Taking, what must have been the deepest of deep breaths, our hero plows ahead, he plops the $30,000 into the guys lap, and goes for one last close (as the phone rings incessantly in the other room).
What figure could we agree on, that would be fair to you, and consider the guitar sold?? Just name the number."
"If there was an offer,..... and I'm not sayin' there will be,..... of $75,000, I'd consider the guitar sold....... and unplug the phone."
Ok .......it's a deal......take the $30,000 as a down-payment, keep the guitar and I'll be back in 2 days at the most with the cash."
Suddenly this guy from a small town grows even larger nuts than mere moments ago when he asks for 75 Large, and sez he doesn't think that's good enough!! Our hero, to set the deal in stone (phone ringing madly in the other room) hands over the pink slip and the keys to his year old Volvo station wagon for security!!
You would think that no man could take much more, endure much more, even on the quest for a '59 V, but the story does not end here, constant reader, oh no, it goes on.
Mr. V drives him (in his Volvo "nice car, young fella") to the nearest RENTAL CAR AGENCY where he rents a car and heads out to, yeah, you guessed it Seattle. Cell-Phoning like mad ahead he contacts his sometime investment partner in Los Angles, who owns a prosperous vintage store.
The LA guy streaks to the nearest jet pointed North, and is sittin' on a plane to Seattle within two hours, with as much cash as he can cram into his lucky "Greyhound Bus" travel bag.
Sooooooo now we have , our hero (in a rental car) driving from Idaho to Seattle WA,........ Mr. LA flying from LA to Seattle...... (Mr. V sitting in Idaho with a '59 V, 30k & a nice Volvo) and everybody's meeting at Guitarville, owned by Vallis Kolbeck (who's picking Mr. LA up at the airport) in the North end of Seattle. No more than 20 minutes after Vallis returns from the airport with Mr. LA.....our hero drives up (looking like a an extra from a disaster movie, unshaven, hair in a twist, no sleep, bleary eyed from the road) and the deal unfolds.
Mr. LA drops his bundle on the counter, and counts out $30,000.......THIRTY THOUSAND??? (30 down already, 45 to go) The deals' for $75,000!!!
It seems Mr. LA didn't bring quuuuuite enough moolah. Enter Vallis Kolbeck, owner of Guitarville, the 3rd investor, who's dying to get on board, what with all the excitement and all.
Val pitches in the extra $15,000....all money is crammed into a Guitarville shopping bag.
Our hero, has to sleep, he's had it, so with a night's rest he piles back on the road...wid' dah cash 'inna sack.
He drives to Idaho, gets the V, (returns the rental car, which he drove there almost nonstop and is smoldering in the rental car lot as he checks it back in, hotter than a home made hash pipe) and heads back to Seattle.
I can't recall a more convaluted deal, right at this minute, but I may think of one. I can only say, that when I plugged that guitar into an amp....."it spoke"...what tone! whadda neck, whadda axe, cheez.
As a last note on the deal, Steven Segall, the movie actor is quite a guitar collector, and he had wanted an orig V. When Mr. LA got back to LA, he called him and told him he had the ultimate Flying V.
Steven Segall, sez "I think I just bought, the ultimate Flying V."
Mr. LA sez, "I dunno, this is the coolest one I've ever seen, how could the one you just bought, be better than this?"
"Well..." Steve sez "it was Albert Kings!"
Nighty nite, my little guitar buck-a-roos, tuck your selves in tight, and dream of pretty guit-tars, til mornings light.
Stapes (I'm on the far left, the traveling guitar buyer, Lloyd & Vallis)
Guitar Stories & Flying V Story #3 © 2007 Billy Stapleton. All rights reserved.
"Keep pickin’ ... "
- Billy Stapleton