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  1. #1
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    1956 Gibson ES 175

    1956 Gibson ES 175-front-guitar-2-jpeg
    I have been tracing this guitar's journey. I cleaned up the truss rod cover and it says Rulon Mecham.
    1956 Gibson ES 175-headstock-chips-truss-rod-cover-jpeg

    I googled him and found his obituary. He died at age 87 in Utah in 2004. He was an inventor and gold processor and enjoyed prospecting and working with gold. He was a songwriter and played the guitar and used his musical talents singing and entertaining at rest homes and other functions. One function I uncovered was he provided music for a ceremony for four Boy Scouts being named Eagle Scouts in 1951 in Salt Lake City. My luthier/guitar tech said that it was common in the 1950s, in music stores, that you would be able to have an aluminum truss rod cover engraved with your name on it. I figure this is strong evidence Rulon was the original owner. He would have been 40 years old in 1956 when the guitar was new. There are several clues on the guitar that point to it having a single owner. And I think the severity of the wear indicates that this was Rulon's only guitar and it was well used for about 40 years. There is consistent lightening on the part of the guitar where it rested on Rulon's leg,
    1956 Gibson ES 175-worn-area-under-bouts-jpg
    excessive fret wear in the first position in addition to first position wear on the back of the neck indicative of a player who used his thumb on the 6th string,
    1956 Gibson ES 175-1st-position-wear-back-jpeg
    and lastly a divot worn into the right side neck and binding at the third fret from his wedding ring.
    1956 Gibson ES 175-right-side-neck-binding-3rd-fret-wedding-ring-damage-jpeg
    When Rulon died in 2004, his daughter, Margie Anderson, from Cambridge, Ohio probably brought the guitar back to Ohio with her. She died twelve years later in July 2016. She was survived by a son, Rulon Poulsen, of Cambridge.

    Maybe he is the one who put his grandfather's guitar in a pawnshop in Cambridge, Ohio after his mom's funeral in 2016. (The Craigslist seller said he found the guitar in a pawn shop around then.)
    Rulon Poulsen was/is in a southern rock band in the Cambridge, Ohio area. It says on the Lock And Load band page from 2011 that his grandfather, Rulon Mecham, released some albums in the 1950's. I have not been able to find anything on that.
    About the guitar - as soon as I plugged it in, I heard early Jim Hall sounds. That was a good sign, and I knew I was buying it! The headstock has a bunch of dings along the edges - from carrying a bunch of crap in the case? Or it leaned against too many objects over the years? There is a chip on the left side of the neck binding at the 6th fret that would support this hypothesis.
    1956 Gibson ES 175-chip-left-side-neck-binding-6th-fret-jpeg
    The case has evidence of heat damage on three sides.
    1956 Gibson ES 175-heat-damage-case-jpeg
    This is ironic considering I started a thread a few weeks ago about keeping guitars safe from house fires (https://www.jazzguitar.be/forum/guitar-amps-gizmos/61401-opinions-display-cases-racks-vs-hardshell-cases.html)
    1956 Gibson ES 175-fullsizeoutput_2d2-jpeg
    Then I found an article from 1976 in the Salt Lake Tribune that a man named Rulon Mecham was rescued from an apartment fire. The damage on the case is consistent with an event such as that, however the man’s stated age in the article is not consistent with my Rulon Mecham’s age, so maybe the paper got his age wrong?
    The bridge has an interesting repair for a horizontal crack that involves about 30 % of the bridge. It appears it was epoxied or super glued and then bracketed with a steel strap to reinforce the repair.
    1956 Gibson ES 175-bridge-staple-4-frontside-good-pic-jpeg1956 Gibson ES 175-bridge-staple-3-backside-jpeg
    One more thing about this sweet acquisition, the pickguard looks like a ski jump - very warped. I am going to have Tony Knudzik of The Pickguardian make a new pickguard for it. He is the go-to guy for pickguard work (ask Gibson who they go to for vintage pickguard repairs) and he is close to my location.

    I love guitars with stories. It enhances my feeling that I am just a temporary curator to preserve this guitar’s legacy for future owners. This guitar was a great find. I am grateful that I bought it and I thank my fellow addicts on the forum for encouraging me to pursue this one.
    Thanks everyone - I love this guitar.

    Last edited by Easy2grasp; 08-10-2017 at 04:40 PM.
    Guitar Addicts Anonymous
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  2. #2
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    Very nice

    My best friend's nephews had an uncle that died in Vietnam ..... he had a 175 that looked just like this .. a beautiful guitar

    Good memories in these beauties

  3. #3
    Very cool. Thanks for sharing it.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    Great score man. I love these 'I already have one and don't need another, so I'm out' stories.
    and they end up w it.
    'Hey, I have a blonde would be cool to have a sunburst'
    you can rationalize it any way you want..been there done that....


    Btw, love those old engraved truss rod covers.
    Seen countless Gibsons w them from the 20s on.
    Must have been a service Gibson provided for a fee if I had to speculate.
    This one is odd in that the name is engraved at an unusual angle in relation to the headstock.
    Last edited by wintermoon; 08-08-2017 at 12:43 AM.

  5. #5
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    Congrats. May she inspire your playing for many years to come!
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  6. #6
    On second look, the angle of engraving of the name is a bit easier for the player to read.
    Most I've seen seem to have it oriented towards the listener.
    this guy must've liked reading his name while playing.
    Interesting....
    Last edited by wintermoon; 08-08-2017 at 12:45 AM.

  7. #7
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    Great score, and great story. Congratulations, and play it in good health!
    Best regards, k

  8. #8
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    Very cool story on your 175. Enjoy it.

    Calton case makers also engraved the purchaser names and serial numbers of the cases while they were in Canada. I have a custom job for an Aria PE-175 with a name engraved on it. Seems like the name is common in Florida so no info is available on the P.O.
    Regards,

    Gary

  9. #9
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    See, that's just badass.

    This is bucket-list guitar for me, sharing #1 with a 62 rosie Strat.

  10. #10
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    Great find - a guitar with a history behind it - enjoy it in good health!
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    A long journey starts with the first step...and although I have long forgotten about my destination I'm still enjoying the journey.

  11. #11
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    What a NGD ! Thank you for sharing this.

    Beautiful ...

  12. #12
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    Very nice guitar and great story! I've often wondered who owned my '53 ES-150 previously. It was obviously someone loved it and played it a lot, just like this one. Congratulations!

  13. #13
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    Wow great research! Thanks for sharing!

  14. #14
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    Oh wow! Love the guitar and love it's history even more! I would really like to know the same for my 67 year old ES-125...

    I have seen pickguards being straightened (to some extend) with the help of an ordinary iron: clamp it and heat it with the iron (use a cloth between the iron and the guard and don't put it to max!).

    But also without the guard it looks great. Enjoy it in good health!
    :: Jazz, Funk, Soul, Groove & Boogaloo: My group ::
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  15. #15
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    Outstanding. Great back story. Great guitar.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Jay View Post
    Oh wow! Love the guitar and love it's history even more! I would really like to know the same for my 67 year old ES-125...

    I have seen pickguards being straightened (to some extend) with the help of an ordinary iron: clamp it and heat it with the iron (use a cloth between the iron and the guard and don't put it to max!).

    But also without the guard it looks great. Enjoy it in good health!
    Thanks for the tip! I think I will try this. An iron would be a lot safer than waving a heat gun over it considering it is highly flammable nitrocelluloid. As it is now, the pickguard is only good for using as a template for a replacement. You might have just saved me $150 or more. I used to have an ES-125 from this era, also, and sold it long ago. The memory of it's wonderful tone is what prompted me to chase down this guitar.
    Ted
    Guitar Addicts Anonymous
    A 12 fret program

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Easy2grasp View Post
    Thanks for the tip! I think I will try this. An iron would be a lot safer than waving a heat gun over it considering it is highly flammable nitrocelluloid. As it is now, the pickguard is only good for using as a template for a replacement. You might have just saved me $150 or more. I used to have an ES-125 from this era, also, and sold it long ago. The memory of it's wonderful tone is what prompted me to chase down this guitar.
    Ted
    Forgive me for stating the obvious, but you must only apply the iron, through a cloth and on low heat, to the back of the guard. Ideally the front of the guard is placed onto a totally flat and clean, cool surface - marble is ideal

    If you apply the heat to the front, the cloth can imprint itself slightly onto the the guard. You can guess how I know this..

  18. #18
    Wow what a great score and thank you for sharing this amazing story. Reminds me of scoring my L5P last year.
    You must be living right young man to have that come along. Play it in good health.

    Big

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Easy2grasp View Post

    1956 Gibson ES 175-1st-position-wear-back-jpeg


    1956 Gibson ES 175-right-side-neck-binding-3rd-fret-wedding-ring-damage-jpeg


    Wow.

    Just been researching the Japanese aesthetic called Wabi Sabi and the bhuddist marks of existence. This is a great example of such a thing.

    Yes, with such items we are the custodians.

    Enjoy in good health!
    “When a wise man points at the moon the fool considers the finger.”

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzbow View Post
    Wow.

    Just been researching the Japanese aesthetic called Wabi Sabi and the bhuddist marks of existence. This is a great example of such a thing.

    Yes, with such items we are the custodians.

    Enjoy in good health!
    I wikipedia'ed Wabi Sabi and that is pretty heavy. I like it. The little dip in the binding and edge of the neck is polished smooth as glass from his ring.
    Ted
    Guitar Addicts Anonymous
    A 12 fret program

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzbow View Post
    Wow.

    Just been researching the Japanese aesthetic called Wabi Sabi and the bhuddist marks of existence. This is a great example of such a thing.

    Yes, with such items we are the custodians.

    Enjoy in good health!
    I already knew your Zen leanings from your signature. And you spell Buddhist like a Victorian Englishman.
    - Tom

  22. #22
    you still have his DNA jammed up against the frets, blech.....

  23. #23
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    classic book...just make sure you get a used copy!! haha

    1956 Gibson ES 175-wabi-sabi-artists-desigers-2-jpg

    lovely guitar and great story...love the crazing on top...and that bridge saddle fix is whacky but great!!

    now get your jim hall on...

    enjoy

    cheers

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Franz 1997 View Post
    Forgive me for stating the obvious, but you must only apply the iron, through a cloth and on low heat, to the back of the guard. Ideally the front of the guard is placed onto a totally flat and clean, cool surface - marble is ideal

    If you apply the heat to the front, the cloth can imprint itself slightly onto the the guard. You can guess how I know this..
    Thanks for all the great advice. I was inspired and tackled this right away.
    First I laid the pickguard face down on our nonporous soapstone countertop:
    1956 Gibson ES 175-pickguard-repair-1-jpg
    I covered it with a thin cotton napkin and ironed it on the "silk" setting until it was very hot to the touch and I could smell hot plastic:
    1956 Gibson ES 175-pickguard-repair-2-jpg
    I them put a big pot of water on top of it for 15 minutes while it cooled:
    1956 Gibson ES 175-pickguard-repair-3-jpg
    After repeating this three times, results were pretty good. Here is a "before" picture showing about 5/16th" of bow:
    1956 Gibson ES 175-before-iron-jpeg
    And the "after" picture with less than 1/16th" bow:
    1956 Gibson ES 175-after-iron-jpg
    The pickguard looks great now (even though the guitar looked cool the other way, too).
    1956 Gibson ES 175-1956-es-175-pickguard-no-bracket-jpg
    1956 Gibson ES 175-fullsizeoutput_2d1-jpeg
    Now I need to source a vintage correct bracket. Joe at Archtop.com seems to have the most vintage correct ones and in an antiqued nickel finish. But they are kind of pricey and it seems like from the text that the screw hole will be in a new place (but the old one is covered up). Does anyone have any suggestions on other good places to find one? Does anyone have one of these laying around in a drawer somewhere? Hello grandson of Rulon!!?

    Ted
    Guitar Addicts Anonymous
    A 12 fret program

  25. #25
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    Interesting Two Brothers

    Twin brothers born one year apart.
    1956 Gibson ES 175-twin-brothers-jpg

    Big Enos and Little Enos
    Guitar Addicts Anonymous
    A 12 fret program

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Franz 1997 View Post
    Forgive me for stating the obvious, but you must only apply the iron, through a cloth and on low heat, to the back of the guard. Ideally the front of the guard is placed onto a totally flat and clean, cool surface - marble is ideal

    If you apply the heat to the front, the cloth can imprint itself slightly onto the the guard. You can guess how I know this..
    Great addition Franz, thanks!
    :: Jazz, Funk, Soul, Groove & Boogaloo: My group ::
    ::::::::::: Listen to Hip Jazz a Go Go! :::::::::::
    ::::::::::::::: Eva & The Tracies :::::::::::::::::

  27. #27
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    Well done! I like the look with the pickguard even better!
    :: Jazz, Funk, Soul, Groove & Boogaloo: My group ::
    ::::::::::: Listen to Hip Jazz a Go Go! :::::::::::
    ::::::::::::::: Eva & The Tracies :::::::::::::::::

  28. #28
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    I guess wabi-sabi sounds more sophisticated than shabby chic ... or beautiful patina


  29. #29
    Wow...so cool
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by furtom View Post
    I already knew your Zen leanings from your signature. And you spell Buddhist like a Victorian Englishman.
    Ha, yes. I have ataxia in the eye muscles. Sometimes my spelling goes off. I have to be careful when I write words like SHINTO and SNIPE.
    Last edited by jazzbow; 08-09-2017 at 04:36 AM.
    “When a wise man points at the moon the fool considers the finger.”

  31. #31
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    Great score with a nice backstory. Love the little scallop in the neck by the 3rd fret. But found hanging in a pawnshop? "Son, if I had known back then when I met your mammy that you'd one day be my son I'd have castrated myself." How much was it pawned for? $200? Jeeesh.

    Frets look rather thin, low, worn and skinny. Is a re-fret in the cards?
    Last edited by Jabberwocky; 08-09-2017 at 05:25 PM.
    Great Deals with Great Folks: max52 (Guild-Benedetto Artist Award); prickards (Ribbecke GC Halfling); Cincy2 (Comins Concert)

  32. #32
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    Very sweet! Congratulations on a great guitar and establishing it's provenance. Awesome find and great story.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Easy2grasp View Post
    The pickguard looks great now (even though the guitar looked cool the other way, too).
    1956 Gibson ES 175-1956-es-175-pickguard-no-bracket-jpg
    1956 Gibson ES 175-fullsizeoutput_2d1-jpeg
    Now I need to source a vintage correct bracket. Joe at Archtop.com seems to have mostly vintage correct ones and in an antiqued nickel finish. But they are kind of pricey and it seems like from the text that the screw hole will be in a new place (but the old one is covered up) and they have acorn nuts on them instead of vintage correct flat nuts
    Fortunately I found what I needed from this eBay seller and for cheaper, too. BRACKETS FOR A PURE NICKEL ES 175 L7 225 BYRDLAND NEW AND CHROME TOO BRACKETS FOR A PURE NICKEL ES 175 L-7 225 BYRDLAND NEW AND CHROME TOO | eBay
    It has the vintage correct flat cap nut and the vintage correct trapezoidal wooden block that goes on the bottom of the pickguard. I had to file about a millimeter off of the "ledge" to get it to match the existing screw hole.
    1956 Gibson ES 175-bracketcloseup-jpg
    Now I have an amp like Jim Hall's and a guitar like his, but I still don't quite sound like Jim Hall! Do you think it is my pick, or maybe I need one of those Van Eps string dampeners?
    1956 Gibson ES 175-jimhallkit-jpg
    Guitar Addicts Anonymous
    A 12 fret program

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky View Post
    Great score with a nice backstory. Love the little scallop in the neck by the 3rd fret. But found hanging in a pawnshop? "Son, if I had known back then when I met your mammy that you'd one day be my son I'd have castrated myself." How much was it pawned for? $200? Jeeesh.

    Frets look rather thin, low, worn and skinny. Is a re-fret in the cards?
    I don't know why the grandson would have pawned it, after all he is a guitar player. I see from the internet that he got divorced earlier this year. Maybe his now ex-wife pawned it. That would be grounds for divorce, right?

    The frets are kind of flat and worn, mostly just the first 3-5 frets. But after putting on some 13's flat wounds, it seems to be okay for now. As my luthier says - "If its not broke don't fix it." Here is a picture and Wintermoon cover your eyes because some of the original owner's DNA is still there. I didn't take all of George Benson's mojo DNA off the guitar I got from him, so it only seems right to leave a little of Rulon Mecham's DNA on his guitar.
    1956 Gibson ES 175-closeupfretweares1751956-jpg

    Also, for those who did not see, I added the newspaper article to my initial NGD post about about the original owner being saved from an apartment fire - which explains the heat damage on the case.
    1956 Gibson ES 175-screen-shot-2017-08-10-3-43-21-pm-png
    Last edited by Easy2grasp; 08-16-2017 at 08:18 PM.
    Guitar Addicts Anonymous
    A 12 fret program

  35. #35

    My Grandfather's Guitar

    Hi, my name is Terry. I am the granddaughter of the original guitar owner. My cousin is the one who pawned my grandpa's guitar. We spent many happy days and nights listening to my grandpa Mecham play and sing. As far as I know, my grandpa never published any of his songs but, family members do have cassette tapes of him singing his songs and playing the guitar. I'm sad that it is no longer in the family but, glad that it found a good home. Please let me know if you would like any information on its use during it's time in the Mecham family.

  36. #36

    holy moly that is my grandpas guitar.

    my cousin must have pawned it in ohio? my grandpa was a fun entertainer we even have some of his music recorded. he wrote many songs, fun songs christmas songs love songs etc. it's no wonder the pick guard is worn out because he loved to play tongue twister songs and slap and pick for punch lines and such. he probably engraved the plate himself. he was an inventor and was very resourceful! how I would love to hear him playing again!

  37. #37

    Who

    Please private message me who you are..

  38. #38

    From his great granddaughter

    Oh the stories you need to hear about the man who owned this guitar. He was not the one rescued in the apartment fire. Best guess on the burn marks is that they came from the 3'x3' floor grate in the small front room where he entertained us with his songs. It was a tiny house - 2 bedrooms - and he and his adorable wife, Thelma, raised 5 kids there. Growing up I didn't refer to them as Rulon and Thelma. It was grandma and grandpa Grape. He was an inventor and a gold minner, a mink farmer and a tinkerer, and a musician. We have a set of songs he recorded for the family one Christmas in the 80s. About 15 years ago I transferred that tape to CDs for everyone one Christmas. If you want to know anything else about him please feel free to reach out. I am happy to know this little piece of our history has made a new home with someone who loves it, and wanted to know it's history. I hope you play it often.

  39. #39

    Guitar Grandpa's guitar...

    I'm the husband of Rulon Mecham's oldest grandchild. My wife has many fond memories of her grandpa playing that Gibson guitar and singing at family gatherings.

    The old favorite, "You are My Sunshine" was always dedicated to little Barbie. She would revel in being serenaded by her grandpa Rulon and her grandma Thelma Lou.

    Though it saddened her to hear that the guitar had slipped away from the family, she's happy knowing that it's being restored and will go on giving many more years of musical joy.

    When you play the old Gibson know that it's preformed a lot of country western songs at Saturday night dances in little beer bars, been played at family gatherings from Christmas to Easter and even at Thelma Lou's funeral.

    That 1956 Gibson wasn't just a guitar, it was the secret ingredient that bonded a family together for many years on many occasions. Even now as this latest chapter is being written and read, the family has been given the joy in sharing old family memories and experiences.

    Own it and play it and get as much happiness out of it as Rulon did when he'd take it out of the case, hold it in his working man hands and rest it on his knee. Play "You are My Sunshine" and see if it doesn't almost play itself.

  40. #40
    This all seems pretty unreal..

  41. #41
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    Isn't it great to hear a guitars history? We all have had guitars pass through our hands with interesting historys. We should all make an effort to record our time with these pieces when we send them to their new homes. She's a beauty,congratulations.

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by p1p View Post
    This all seems pretty unreal..
    You can say that again I appreciate the literary passion and humor of some of our members.

  43. #43
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    I am very grateful to hear these stories of Rulon Mecham from his family. This guitar has such a legacy and has been bathed in joy and sorrow through it's years. I like to think that the family member who pawned it did so out of desperation. The family ties to this man, his guitar, and his music beget the guitar with a spirit energy that will always exist. Let us remember that it is the man, Rulon Mecham, and not the guitar. But all of us here can appreciate the guitar as a tool that can be used in so many useful ways to bring people together and bond family members in this case. This guitar was like the family dining room table, where people came together to enjoy each other's company and partake in the richness of life, thanks to this musician. It is an honor to be the present conservator of this instrument.
    Ted
    Guitar Addicts Anonymous
    A 12 fret program

  44. #44
    Congrats on the instrument and thanks for sharing the whole story.

  45. #45
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    I have offered to sell the guitar back to the family for what I have in it. Otherwise, it is not for sale to anyone. This guitar is a keeper that one would regret selling for the rest of one's life, unless it was to meet some higher good, such as getting a family icon back in their arms.
    Ted
    Guitar Addicts Anonymous
    A 12 fret program

  46. #46

    Love it

    We're, as a family, so happy to know this piece of our history has made it to such a loving home. the best thing you could do for us is to continue to enjoy it. That would have made my great grandparents extremely happy. Natalie

  47. #47
    Wow. Cool and congrats.

  48. #48

    Family

    With your interest in finding out about Rulon Mecham and his beloved guitar, and your generous offer to sell it back to the family, you've more than proven you are the rightful curator for this fine old Gibson.

    If it would make you any more comfortable in that role, consider yourself part of the family. Thanks again for reaching out and giving our family a chance to reminicse.

  49. #49
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    And yes, "You Are My Sunshine" popped right out of this guitar. Not sure how it happened, but I was instantly playing it in three different keys. I am going to work on an arrangement. I am wondering if Rulon Mecham was a country blues finger picker or used a flat pick. I am leaning towards country blues finger picker with the thumb on the sixth string type neck wear.
    Guitar Addicts Anonymous
    A 12 fret program

  50. #50

    Sunshine...

    Ted,

    As my wife recalls Rulon used a guitar pick. Also, He didn't wear a wedding ring due to working around machinery all the time. The damage you attributed to his wedding ring may have been caused by a metal "slide" he used on occasion when playing. Thanks for the feedback on "You are My Sunshine." My wife got a real kick out of that.

    Clayton

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