When it comes to country music, Vince Gill has the whole package. He’s a great vocalist with a unique tenor voice, a talented songwriter, and an extremely skillful guitar player. And he’s got the right tools for it, too. Lots of dream guitars in his collection, all over the place. Let’s check out a small, personal part of his guitar arsenal in his Nashville house, so you know what you were missing out on all these years. Well at least as far as guitars go. (Thanks for the video to Musician’s Friend).
Bluegrass on an archtop by Vince Gill
He starts with an old Gibson ES-125 (not the slim, thinline “T” version), that was his father’s guitar that he gave to Vince, and he also started to learn to play on it as a kid. The guitar has survived a flood in 2010, staying just above the water level. Miracles do happen, I guess. He plays the old bluegrass standard “Wildwood Flower” – probably the very first song he learned – on it unplugged, and the guitar sounds surprisingly good for something that sports a top-mount P-90 pickup. It’s a nice, rather mellow (for an archtop) sound.
Martin D-28 Herringbone
Then he picks up an old, 1942 Martin D-28 herringbone dreadnought, the guitar’s still in pretty good shape. He acquired it when he was about eighteen years old. He has found it in the Bluegrass Festival. A man was carrying it around in an old case with the price tag $2500 written on it. Vince couldn’t afford it, even though he’s fallen in love with the guitar right away. Vince offered to trade in his then fairly new 1970s Martin, and fortunately the guy agreed on it. Vince only had to pay about 15 – 1600 dollars on top of it – that was all the money he had on his bank account up to that day. Brave move, hey? He seems to be very happy with this guitar though, saying he hasn’t found much better than it ever since.
A rare 12 fret Martin
Vince is definitely not like your average guitar collector. He only buys guitars that play and sound good, besides having the good looks. The next Martin he pulls off the stand is a 1928 000-45. It’s a 12 fret guitar, the “45” designation means it’s a top of the line model and it’s one of the rarest Martins. Only 142 were produced between 1906 and 1931. It has spruce top, Brazilian rosewood back and sides, a trapeze tailpiece, lots of pearl ornaments, and a ringing, bell like tone with long sustain.
Martin OM – a gift from Amy Grant
Then comes a 1930 Martin OM-45, a gift from his wife, Amy Grant, she bought it for his 50th birthday. According to Vince, only 41 of these were made. He says he’s got a couple of these. I mean, come on, once you have one, you have to have more, right?
The shade top guitar
Another prewar Martin he picks up is a 000-28 herringbone, with a pretty rare sunburst finish Martin calls the “shade top”. Making these back then was a response to Gibson’s burst finished guitars that were getting very popular. The shade top version’s price is about twice the money of the natural finish one. This one was a gift from Amy Grant as well.
These guitars survived the flood
When Vince has built his house there right after the above mentioned flood, he has lost about 50 guitars right away. Most of us will probably never have as many guitars in our collection, but hey. Anyway, he’s brought a lots of these high valued guitars right into the studio, so he came up with the idea of making neat looking, velvet bottomed drawers for them. At least for some of the electric guitars. Pulling one of these drawers he’s showing a 1961 red Gibson 335 laying next to an old sunburst Fender Stratocaster he’s bought from Bob Britt when the guitarist was having some financial struggles. Vince says if Bob ever wants it back, it’ll be there. The next drawer has another two Strats, one of them is sonic blue, the other one is another burst. Vince says each one of them has their own particular voice.
Great to see a guitar collector with soul every now and then, especially when he can play them like there’s no tomorrow. Vince Gill is definitely one of that kind.