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Gavin Downie, Guitar Tech from New Zealand And His Guitars

This is piece of writing from Gavin Downie, one of our great customers. He had sent along the pic below a while back that showed all of his guitars hanging on a wall, including our LP Jr. ( see the lil red beauty right in the middle ) I sent him a quick email back and asked about the guitars, any stories behind them. I think it is cool the stories that come out.  I am interested in stuff like that.

This is  the pic that started it all…and what I got back from him about guitars. Gavin works with a lot of touring acts, in the land of the All Blacks….. Notice Mr. Gibbons in the pic at the bottom.

Love it.. Guitar AreGREAT!!

The best rock guitars all on one wall

HI phil, I’d thought I’d share the story behind a couple of these guitars.

All these hang in my wife and I’s bedroom on the wall above my simple home studio setup. Guitars make the best kind of art we decided and it gives the room a wonderful colorful feel.  Each has its unique story and history and it means i see and play them all a lot more than if they were stuck in a case under the bed or in a cupboard. sure they gather dust but the I play them all at least twice a week when home so i am always dusting them off or retuning them and when recording I can just reach up and grab another guitar if i need a certain tone or am searching for inspiration. each guitar leads itself to a way I play it or what comes out of me as an artist when i create.

Of course The red Les Paul Jnr in the middle is a precision guitar kit. This was my attempt ad rebuilding a guitar that has become iconic in my life. A 58 Gibson Les Paul Jnr that i played when a tourist in nz brought in to be sold, to raise funds to stay in nz longer. he wanted about $1500-2000 for it so we had it up for sale on behalf. I plugged it in one day and suddenly had my first experience with the baseball bat necks. this thing was chunky it was built to last. and plugged straight into an amp it made a tone that no other guitar has come close to until i put together this beast. After much exhaustive research I went back to a Seymour Duncan antiquity P90 as it just had that growl and snarl that i remembered from that first play of the guitar some 23 years ago.. Those kinda memories dont leave you.

The other guitar of some sentimental value is my Gretsch 6118 anniversary. its not a vintage guitar but I bought it 2 years ago with the some money left by my dad after a long battle with a terrible illness. the hospitals and homes where he was looked after in his final months – when we could no longer have him at home chewed through his savings and I was left a little bit og money in his will and i racked my brains to think of what it would be best spent on, after a lot of thought It came to me while i slept that i’d always wanted a grestch, they were always the cadillac of guitars to me shiny and chrome covered and just somehow classier than a standard les paul or 335. I didn’t think i’d find anything like what I wanted for the little bot of cash I had in my hand but I came across Rocky  Street sounds in NYC on eBay and they had this guitar for exactly the money I had!

To buy in my own country i would have needed at least twice the amount. The guitar arrived and it was  the first time I’d ever bought a guitar of this value or even a new guitar.. this thing just shone and I could feel my dads heroic fight to the end in that guitar and it will always mean more to me than just wood steel and strings. I added some leopard pickup surrounds and some dice knobs and I got the guitar to look exactly how i wanted it to look so people knew it was mine and its hung on my wall above my bed every day if its not out being played.

Now the funniest guitar is the white Chinese Gretsch billy-bo counterfeit guitar. I have had a close association with billy Gibbons for over a decade, hes even been kind enough to mention our first meeting in his great guitar/car book “Gearhead”
Well just after we first met he sent me the surf green custom shop Fernandes thats on that wall. He’s a sustainer pickup endorsee and they’d built this one off guitar for him and he most kindly passed it along to me. Well on his recent tour here in nz we were hanging out in his dressing room and we were talking about all the terrible and counterfeit guitars coming out of china. I mentioned they had just started copying his own BIlly -Bo ! so he had to see it so we found an asian website trading counterfeits and found the Billy- BO. the guitar looks like the only time the counterfeiters had seen one was in  a magazine and when they photocopied it to duplicate it the page was on a bad angle as the guitars body is just off angle and mishapen. it makes it quite unique and quite funny. Billy found it to be so amusing he ordered two on the spot and had one sent to his guitar tech back in the states to be set up if possible and added into the live arsenal for a joke and the other was sent to me where upon with some hours on the bench I got it playing surprisingly well. We’re both next going to get them pinstriped by our own respective pin stripers then have send pics to see each others work..haha. I know counterfeits are bad for business but if its being paid for by the  damaged parties and passed on as a gift then its not so bad..

The other odds and ends are guitars I’ve collected after years of lusting over them, An olympic white fender jazzmaster and a “franken-bass” made up of an asian Musicman stingray copy with a replaced mexican fender jazz neck on it. it gets lots of questions and like Mr Billy Gibbons  I spin a good yarn about it being a leo fender prototype to the odd bass player , made up of old fender parts and new Musicman parts when he was first designing his new music mans.. you;d be amazed how many bass players fall for it before i have to tell them its a cheap throw together… I must have such an honest face..haha

On the far right  end is a terrible piece of instrument manufacturing. A super cheap “Cimar by Ibanez”, a budget brand of ibanez this I bought super cheap to make into a  fretless  as i just wanted to see if i could learn to play fretless. During the strip down I was cleaning the body cavity and found out to my shock it was made of MDF.. I have never seen a guitar made from MDF before. its ridiculous!  But i got the frets out and laid native wood strips in the grooves and refinished the neck and it plays well enough to learn on, the pickups just should be thrown into a deep deep ocean..hahaha

And down on the floor is one of our  amps that me and my buddy have started building under “Wolverton Amps”. Our friend Mr Gibbons also has one of our first  amps in the ZZ Top studio back in Houston where there finishing the latest zz top record on it.
heres his studio with his two engineers.
here is his contact info… Just a great man.

Guitar Tech – Stage Management – and Rock n Roll Consultant.
cell nz (0064) 021 250 2701
landline (0064) 09 413 5355

Billy Gibbons standing by the Wolverton Amp

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