In 2002 I made a telecaster, the eighth guitar I'd built, but the first tele. It was a gold metalic bodied, maple necked beauty, complete with a Merle style mother-of-toiletseat white pearl pickguard, Kent Armstrong pickups and chrome hardware. A real nice piece. Sounded great and I learned a lot building it. The first pic here is from the original build on my workbench.
I kept it for about 6-7 months and eventually sold it to a guy named Phil that I worked with. He was quite happy with it and he also had me custom build a really nice red strat with a rosewood neck and rosewood fretboard.
In late 2003 Phil had both guitars stolen from his home. He suspected some guys he'd hired to do some work there had taken them. They left the cases, so the crime wasn't discovered until weeks later when Phil went to play one of the guitars. There were no serial numbers on my builds other than #8 in sharpie in the neck pocket of the tele and "TBP 07/02". He talked to the police and they said that there wasn't much they could do.
In 2005 Guitar Center called me at the shop. My buddy Randy there said he had one of my guitars that they had taken in on trade. They were putting it out to sell and he wanted to know what the retail value was on it. It was the red strat with the rosewood neck and rosewood fretboard, Lace pickups, and custom knobs. No serial number, no police report and no recourse for the victim in this case. Or was there?
Brian, who now owned the strat brought it to me for a tune-up and to hear the whole story about the guitar. He was a very compassionate collector and understood how screwed up this deal was for Phil. He ended up selling the strat to Phil for what he paid for it. Phil had originally gotten the guitar at my cost so now he was into it for retail and very pleased to get it back. Brian remains a great customer and has brought many treasures to me for setups and mods.
The gold tele was sighted by my friend Moldy, at the local Four Points Swap Meet in 2005. He described it to a 'T'. I went there next two weekends but had no luck finding it.
Last month I saw it on Craigslist. The hardware had been swapped out for gold units, but it was unmistakeably my tele. I didn't have enough cash right then and the seller wasn't into trading for it. I did not tip my hand as to the story behind this guitar, just in case...
I called Phil and left him a message. Never heard back from him. The guitar reappeared on Craigslist this month. I arranged to meet the seller and buy it. The guy said he'd had it a couple of years. I told him the story and left carrying my old friend to the car.
The second pic here is how it looked when I brought it home with the gold hardware (ick!). I took the whole thing apart while watching Sunday Night Football with the wife, right on the family room coffee table. Yesterday I rebuilt it with Cream T's BG wind custom pickups from my buddy Thomas in Norway. Back to the chrome hardware, added a black pickguard.
It plays as good as it looks. Sounds fantastic. It will stay here indefinitely as the tele pickup test-bed. It has earned that duty and will undoubtedly see action in the studio as well.
UPDATE: Here's Ol' #8 in action last night at The Troubadour in Los Angeles, Scott Davis doing the string bending with Hayes Carll and The Gulf Coast Orchestra.