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  1. #1

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    So this weekend Angie whisked me off for a weekend celebration my 65th birthday-at Songbirds Guitar Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where in addition to getting a personal tour of their exclusive collection and "vault," I got an hour to play 5 of their vintage guitars. Yes, it was everything I could have hoped for! For the guitar geeks: I played a 1959 Fender Jazzmaster, a 1954 Gibson ES150, a 1956 Fender Telecaster, a 1958 Gibson ES175, and a 1963 Epiphone Casino. Yeah. Fun. Then at the end I saw a display case containing TWO D'Angelico New Yorkers and Hank Garland's own Stromberg Master 400! Be Still, Oh My Heart...

    Playing with the Giants-songbirds-4-jpgPlaying with the Giants-songbirds-1-jpgPlaying with the Giants-songbirds-2-jpgPlaying with the Giants-songbirds-5-jpgPlaying with the Giants-songbirds-6-jpgPlaying with the Giants-songbirds-7-jpgPlaying with the Giants-songbirds-3-jpg
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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    That’s a big smile on your face!

  4. #3

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  5. #4

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    Happy birthday. I was at Songbirds a year and a half ago. Very cool. Did you go back in the vault? Some fascinating instruments back there. Glad you had a great time.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by D'Aquisto Fan
    Happy birthday. I was at Songbirds a year and a half ago. Very cool. Did you go back in the vault? Some fascinating instruments back there. Glad you had a great time.
    Yes my wife bought me the "Rock Star" player experience. 5 guitars from their first two lists, plus a personal tour of the Green Room and Vault. I couldn't help but notice they didn't cover the Gibson story or jazz players very well in their presentation. I think the patron is a huge Fender fan.

  7. #6

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    And your favourite was?

  8. #7

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    What a thoughtful birthday present!
    I'd love to visit that place.
    Used to live in Tennessee (albeit, Nashville, not Chattanooga) so it is within the realm of possibility that I may return for a visit. If so, this place would be on my list of attractions not to miss.

  9. #8

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    Happy Birthday Lawson! Welcome to Medicare!!!

  10. #9

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    I'm guessing the Stromberg and DA's were off limits?

  11. #10

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    Love to hear your thoughts Lawson on what you thought of each of those guitars!

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by entresz
    Love to hear your thoughts Lawson on what you thought of each of those guitars!
    Would love to hear your impression of the 58 175 compared to your own 59vos

  13. #12

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    Great gift and happy birthday!

    I am from Chattanooga and remember when the Choo-Choo was where you took your prom date for a fancy dinner. (The corn fritters were a particular favorite.) I took the first girl I ever kissed there. And it was the only place I knew of growing up where you could skate on REAL ice.

    The Songbirds museum is a cool place—I went there last October. I didn’t get to play any vintage guitars, but I did get to ogle the D’Angelicos and Songbirds.

    The renovation of the downtown area is a true wonder, as when I was a teenager there in the 70’s there was hardly any reason to go downtown, except maybe to the Choo-Choo or Mom’s Italian Villa, which was on the other side of Market Street. There was also Honest Charlie’s Speed Shop a block or 2 away—people tell me it is legendary in the vintage hot rod community, but to be honest I never knew about it when I lived there.

    Next time I’m down South—my 86 year-old mom still lives there—I’ll try to plan ahead to get my hands on some vintage wood.
    Last edited by Doctor Jeff; 03-04-2020 at 09:31 AM.

  14. #13

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    BTW fellow JGF member Eric Rowland lives in Chattanooga and as I recall has or had a 175 from the 70’s. I think he also has a lawsuit guitar. He is a great player too.

    My memory of those years is a bit fuzzy to be honest...
    Last edited by Doctor Jeff; 03-04-2020 at 09:31 AM.

  15. #14

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    Happy birthday.
    From the looks of it, that tele is doin you a big delight. Super cool.

  16. #15

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    You wear that 1954 ES-150 well. My 1954 ES-150 came by way of Gruhn Guitars in Nashville, Tennessee. I would like to think it is a kissing cousin of the one you held in your hands.

    Enjoy your birthday, mate. Happiness is a warm guitar.

  17. #16

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    Waaay back in the mid 90's I had been very lucky to be able to travel to NYC several times, both for gigs and pleasure and I always tried to squeeze in a day trip to 48th street (Manny's, Rudy's, We Buy Guitars, etc.) and -the main attraction - The Mandolin Bros. store on Staten Island. On one of these very memorable occasions I was allowed to spend around 2 hours in their upstairs 'inner sanctum' where they kept the really rare birds, out of reach for the normal customer. So I was in for a real treat : a late 40's D'A blonde New Yorker, Benedetto Venetia, '28 L-5, '38 Martin D-28, pre-war OM's, 000's, a Zeidler, a D'Aquisto solidbody , fancy pre-war Nationals, a Sam Koontz "mutha" - a very long list of holy grail guitars.
    The cherry on the cake was another late 50's D'Angelico sunburst New Yorker cutaway which belonged to Kenny Burrell who had it there for sale on commission.
    Oh boy, the stuff that dreams are made of..... fond memories, very nice and accommodating people (Stan Jay + Larry Wexer + Larry Acunto IIRC) .
    So I have a pretty good idea what you felt like in that place !

  18. #17

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    Lawson you did great and sounds like a real fun deal all the way around and you get Medicare.

    One major problem I see is those D'angelico's and Stromberg's need to be played. I don't know if they are off limits but I don't care they need to be played. Stuck behind a glass case for the rest of their existence is a true shame. They should have had you personally be forced to play those guitars for 2 hours.

  19. #18

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    Lawson, That is so cool man. Your better half is very thoughtful. And you look really happy bro.
    Thank you for sharing.
    The real D'Angelico's and the Stromberg look like they are imprisoned in that glass case. But it is nice to know the guitars are in a place where passionate nutjobs like us can go see them. I remember when I saw my 1st D'Angelico, I was so focused on it. I wanted to absorb every detail. I still remember the bracket that held the pickguard on. Not sure it was original, but it looked more expensive than the Ibanez I had at the time.. I still remember the rust on the screws and the binding that was separating from the wood.
    Did you get pictures of the placards next each guitar?
    And lastly, were any of the guitars you played better/different from the ones you own?
    Sorry to ramble. Great post bro.
    JD

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon
    I'm guessing the Stromberg and DA's were off limits?
    To a commoner like me, yes. They had some huge name guitarist there a few months back who played the Stromberg.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by deacon Mark
    Lawson you did great and sounds like a real fun deal all the way around and you get Medicare.

    One major problem I see is those D'angelico's and Stromberg's need to be played. I don't know if they are off limits but I don't care they need to be played. Stuck behind a glass case for the rest of their existence is a true shame. They should have had you personally be forced to play those guitars for 2 hours.
    Actually there are some known celebrity guitarists who drop in from time to time and they do play them. Also, most of the floor staff seem to me to be quite accomplished guitarists. My curator-guide was about 65 and really knew his guitars, but regularly gigs with a cover band and country music band, and played some pretty nice licks in our hour of playing.

    Talking to the staff was really fun because they really know guitars and guitar playing, and they are passionate about it.

  22. #21

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    I can post more photos and I have a few phone video clips I could post.

  23. #22

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    I thought maybe you were going to play second base for San Francisco.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    Yes my wife bought me the "Rock Star" player experience. 5 guitars from their first two lists, plus a personal tour of the Green Room and Vault. I couldn't help but notice they didn't cover the Gibson story or jazz players very well in their presentation. I think the patron is a huge Fender fan.
    I'm pretty sure they rotate the guitars on the floor. For a period of time it might be custom color pre-CBS Fenders for example. Then Les Paul's, etc. When I visited it was a prearranged appointment with my good friend Nacho Banos and Julian Lage. They're working on another project that's a follow-up to Nacho's great "Blackguard Book." We got to see everything.

    This is a jazz forum and I love archtops as much as the rest of us, but D'A's and Strombergs are far from the big ticket items at Songbirds. It's the rare Teles, Strats and Les Pauls in the vault that are likely the most guarded.

  25. #24

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    The question is:
    Did you lay the wood to Donna Lee on one of those bad boys????

  26. #25

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    Has there security team noticed that the 175 is missing yet?
    Congrats on 65.

  27. #26

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    "This is a jazz forum and I love archtops as much as the rest of us, but D'A's and Strombergs are far from the big ticket items at Songbirds. It's the rare Teles, Strats and Les Pauls in the vault that are likely the most guarded".

    I was in a liquor store once (well perhaps more) and noticed a $350 bottle of scotch directly at arms length and far out of access bottles of $25 Grey Goose vodka behind the counter. I asked the counter guy, wtf? He said "we try to prevent people from stealing what they're most likely to steal".

  28. #27

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    So here is a pristine 1954 Gibson ES150 being played by a not-so-pristine 1955 Person... noodling over the changes to "Here's That Rainy Day"

    Last edited by lawson-stone; 03-05-2020 at 04:06 PM.

  29. #28

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    Here's the Gibson 1958 ES175. Fingers fumbling a little... excitement, nervousness!


  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    Here's the Gibson 1958 ES175. Fingers fumbling a little... excitement, nervousness!
    I didnt hear any nervousness. Sounded nice Lawson. Sounds like it was a great time. And your better half tried making the video taking, interesting. That is really cool.
    You did what I have a hard time doing. I just dont play other peoples guitars. I will play my own guitars, setup for me, in the comfort of my own space - for anybody. But I just dont like playing in uncomfortable positions. Just me.
    You did good bud.
    Joe D

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max405
    I didnt hear any nervousness. Sounded nice Lawson. Sounds like it was a great time. And your better half tried making the video taking, interesting. That is really cool.
    You did what I have a hard time doing. I just dont play other peoples guitars. I will play my own guitars, setup for me, in the comfort of my own space - for anybody. But I just dont like playing in uncomfortable positions. Just me.
    You did good bud.
    Joe D
    You are a gracious soul, sir. The good people at Songbirds made it easy. They purchase only the most pristine examples of the guitars in their collection, unless of course some historic instrument is not pristine. The ones they make available to be played are set up well. That ES175 I estimate had .11's. They were round wound but not hard to manage at all. The ES150 was also set up perfectly except again for round-wound strings. The amp they gave me to use was heavenly, and I can't remember what it was. A boutique tube amp of some sort, but very warm and lively. The curator was super knowledgeable and also a fine player himself, and he was clearly enjoying hearing all my bebop licks and chord melody. Said they just don't get many old-school jazz players in there. I liked being called an "old school jazz player!"

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    You are a gracious soul, sir.
    Thank you Sir. And so are you..
    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    The curator was super knowledgeable and also a fine player himself, and he was clearly enjoying hearing all my bebop licks and chord melody. Said they just don't get many old-school jazz players in there. I liked being called an "old school jazz player!"
    NICE!!
    JD

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    Here's the Gibson 1958 ES175. Fingers fumbling a little... excitement, nervousness!

    So what did you feel/hear when playing the 58 compared to your 59 VOS?