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The greatest story ever told

When it comes to guitars, at any rate.

“So many people lost their guitars. I lost 44”: Peter Frampton recalls how he lost and recovered guitars through floods and plane crashes as he shows off his eye-watering gear collection on Gibson TV
Gibson TV has released its latest episode of The Collection – a web series that sees the firm sit down with big name players to pick apart their vintage guitar gear, and reflect on the stories behind each historic piece.

For its newest hour-and-a-half installment, Gibson’s Mark Agnesi visited Peter Frampton to explore the guitars behind some of his most iconic cuts – as well as recount the tales of loss and recovery that have defined the rock master’s collecting career.

As far as guitar collections go, Frampton’s is especially steeped in history. Not only did he effectively have to restart his guitar collection after losing 44 individual guitars – and numerous pieces of other gear – in a flood in 2010, he also experienced what has become one of the most famous tales of lost-and-found guitars in history.

To that end, the most notable instruments in Frampton’s episode of The Collection are the ones whose histories are interwoven with such stories.

The “Phenix”, for example, takes center stage. The mid-’50s era triple-humbucker Black Beauty Les Paul Custom needs no introduction: as seen on the cover of Frampton Comes Alive!, it is one of the most iconic Les Pauls of all time, and made its way on “just about every track [Frampton] recorded between 1970 and 1980”.

However, in 1980, the “Phenix” went down in a cargo aircraft – which crashed while taking off from Curaçao – and it was believed to have been lost forever. Miraculously, 31 years later, the Les Paul was reunited with its rightful owner after it had been picked up and played over the years by a local musician.

“It was just one of the best feelings in the world,” Frampton recalls of being reunited with the “Phenix”.

Yeah, I just bet it was at that. What a great, heart-warming story, eh? You gotta love it. Didn’t watch the vid, because I almost never do, but I have a sneaking suspicion I may be making an exception in this case.

(Via Lonesome Ed Driscoll)


7 thoughts on “The greatest story ever told

  1. Mike, I know you’re a Gibson guy, and I’m a Fender guy. But I don’t know if you’ve heard about Rory Gallagher’s Strat. Stolen, then recovered. In a ditch. Underwater. Said to be the first Strat in the UK, he bought it used, because the first owner wanted one in red. He beat it to shit. You can get one like it from the Fender Custom Shop, but really, what’s the point?

    1. A question, something I know nothing about –
      Does one brand of the same style of guitar play differently from another? Or is it more like the Ford vs Chevy deal?

      1. YUUUUGE difference, Barr. Or there can be, at any rate, particularly these days. An old 70’s Ibanez Les Paul copy is as good as a Gibson of that era, sometimes better. Not necessarily so with the latter-day Chinesium LP variants.

          1. Well, essentially, the feel IS the sound, in a very real sense. What we might refer to as “feel” is created by the exact same things the actual sound depends on: quality of materials, hardware, and workmanship.

            In other words, cheap shitty wood, microphonic pickups, tuning machines, bridges, and tailpieces that are machine-made from Chinesium, and so on are going to produce bad tone, and aren’t any fun to play as far as “feel” goes either. It’s all connected.

            Mahogany is better than pine or plywood; hand-wound pickups from a known manufacturer will always beat el-cheapo repops; real-deal steel bridges and tailpieces are superior to their pot-metal knockoffs, etc. In the end, it’s comparable to the difference between, say, a Ford and a Yugo, or the difference between a Chinese-made AK47 and the genuine-article Kalashnikov. The ancient rule still applies with guitars as it does most other places: you get what you pay for.

    2. Never heard that one about Rory and his Strat, JC, it’s great. As for the Fender Custom Shop, they disgust me. Goes against every precept professed by Leo himself as to why he built the Strat, Tele, and P-Bass in the first place. By those lights, ain’t no such thing as a Strat that’s worth 4-5k, no way. It amounts to a contradiction in terms.

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