Wall of FameYou don't have to be famous to have me work of your instrument, but here are a few folks you may recognize.
I give the same expert attention to detail to all of my customers, but I’m a fan too! I’ve been fortunate to have the trust of so many industry pros, so you’ll have to forgive me for bragging a little.
Billy Gibbons – ZZ Top
I was at my repair shop, working late, not unusual, re-fretting a Les Paul, and all was quite. There was a knock on my front door, and I thought “who in the hell is knocking on my door this time of night?“. Went to the door and all I could see was a very long beard behind my glass door, It was Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top! Made sense, they were in town that night, playing a Gig about 1/2 mile away from my shop. I let him in, we chatted a bit about guitars. I showed him my 59′ Gibson Les Paul, which he played for a while and handed it back to me and said it was nice, but not as nice as his “pearly gates” he used!! Then he picked up a sunburst Gibson L-50 arch-top acoustic and started to strum with a quarter from his pocket. He said “I like this one, it sounds old. Do you think you can you make it cherry-red??”. “You bet” I said! ” “Ya got any old De’Armond pick-ups around?”, he asked. I just happened to have an old sliding one that attaches to the tail piece. He said, “Great! Make it red for me, put that old De’Armond on it, inlay my Name on the Headstock. I’ll send ya a deposit for it when I get back to Texas”. He left in a Limo. I still had a big grin on my face when a check arrived in the mail a few days later, from ZZ Top!
Working in the shop when my phone rang. A rather frantic guy on the phone told me that Michael Schenker’s band was playing that night and that he’s got a problem breaking strings on his main Black and White Gibson “V”.
“Bring it on down!”, I said. There was a pause, “Can you come down to the show?”, the voice asked. Can’t, I’ve got all my tools here.
Soon I see about 5 people, 2 of them are throwing flower pedals, and a tall blonde man walking behind. In comes Schenker! He hands me his Precious Black and White, mirrored Gibson Flying V and explains that the guitar is constantly breaking stings at the bridge. I carefully examine his bridge saddles, which were all sharp as hell.
I said “leave it an hour, I’ll work on it”. He said “NNNNooooo way, I wont leave it anywhere!!!!!!”. “OK, relax”, I said. “I’ll stop what I’m doing, so have a seat!!”. So I take it and carefully trim with my special craytex, custom diamond pencil tip tool and polish and buff out all the ruff edges that have worn rude burrs on all the saddle pieces on his Gibson Tune-o-Matic bridge. I re-string it and hand It back to him and tell him that “all will be fine” as he plugs it in thru my Marshall stack. He proceeds to blaze the daylight out of everything. 20 minutes for straight playing, bending, slamming that “V” and nothing breaks!!!.
” Thanks Man, it’s working now, wanna go to the show?”. Yeah, just leave my name at the door!!!!
Thanks Schenker, Great show!!!!
One afternoon, in 1982, I was a working on guitars and tan fella appeared at my counter. Wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a large brim Hawaiian straw hat, he handed me an old beat-up Martin D-18 guitar, which looked fairly battered and battle scared. As he handed it over to me he said “Son, I’ve got this old guitar I’ve been using forever, it’s got some bad buzzin’ all over it”. Without much other conversation I looked at the guitar, its action, its fretboard, and said, “Sir, this old guitar has been played hard and put-away wet. How many years have you been playing it that way?” (This guitar’s fretboard AND top showed about 40 year of hard-use to it)
It was then that I noticed (with a gulp) it was GLEN CAMPBELL! He said, “Oh, I’ve been using it all my life. I got it from my Brother Shorty and he got it from my Daddy”. “I’ve played it all my life and recorded many a hit record with it, when I was a studio guitarist”.
I picked up my head, told myself to calm down, because standing right in front of me WAS COUNTRY MUSIC GREAT, MR. GLEN CAMPBELL!! (BESIDES THE BEATLES, WAS ONE OF THE MOST INSPIRING GUITARIST IN MY GUITAR PLAYING LIFE, AND AS I WAS GROWING UP, HE WAS A PICKIN’ IDOL!!!
I spoke, “Sir, you’re Mr. Campbell!” He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Son, I’ve known that since I was a small boy growing up in Delight, Arkansas. Now, what can you do for my guitar?” I couldn’t believe it, not only was he about to be my first major celebrity guitar repair customer, but he was the first guitar player I ever saw growing up, that played like a crazy-fool past the 4th fret! I said, “Well sir, I believe we can do the work on re-dressing your fretboard, you’ve got some bad frets there!” “OK, son, do her right then.” and he left me the guitar!! I was floating on air!!!. I was about to work on one of the planet’s most celebrated country-crossover, world’s best guitarists!
I turned that first guitar repair into 35 + years of working on all of his vast collection of Ovation, Martin, Fender, and Mosrite guitars and anything and everything else he brought to me to have repaired.
Working late one afternoon, I got a call from Mike “Big-Mac” Mc Intyre, guitar-tech for Dokken. He asked if I could come down to the concert because George Lynch dinged his frets on his favorite guitar during a video shoot, and needs to have his frets re-dressed and he didn’t know how to do it. I said, “Sure, just let me know where to go and leave me an all-access-pass”.
I took my fret levering tools down to the backdoor of the arena where they were setting up to play that night. They ushered me backstage and there she was, the famous “Mr.Scary”. George really smacked up the frets pretty good, all over the neck. I created a makeshift workbench backstage and set to work with my tools dressing the dinged frets and resetting the Floyd Rose tremolo, all while the show began. I finished doing all the readjustments, and baam, all done! Next thing I hear was, “Hey Beck, are you done with that guitar? He needs it for the next song! Throw it to me, right now!” I finished it just in the ‘nick of time!
The following week, a white van pulls up in front of my shop and a longhaired big man opens up the van door and starts unloading a van full of guitars! Tons of beautiful, custom, ESP guitars, that all need refretting and service. Lots of guitars for my pro luthier assistant, Gerhart, and me to repair! (Thank God for Gerhart’s help and excellent skills).
A few days later, I get a call George from a recording studio in Los Angeles. He says “I’m tracking a song with my favorite maple guitar and it’s buzzing really bad! Can you fly out tonight to adjust it?”“No problem, just leave a plane ticket for me, send the limo over to pick me up and I’ll be right over”.
Boy, the life of a famous rock-star never ends. Thanks again George for the album credit!
This left handed Fender Stratocaster is the main guitar of Jesse Johnson, guitarist with Prince, and Janet Jackson and his own band. Jesse is old school, uses very heavy strings, with incredibly high action, unfortunately this guitar was stolen shortly after this photo was taken. Jesse , a very kind and soft spoken guy, until he lets loose with his magnificent guitar chops!!
Some of the other artists for whom Rich has worked are:
- Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains)
- Jason Newstead (Metalica)
- Gardner Cole (Madona)
- K.K. Downing (Judas Priest)
- Scotty Johnson (Gin Blossoms)
- Ray Herndon (Lyle Lovette)
- Jim Adkins (Jimmy Eat World)
- Cris and Curt Kirkwood (Meat Puppets)