Guitars


Mandolin Dave’s first childhood instrument at the age of five, circa 1946: A Neapolitan-style mandolin, also known as a round-back, bowl-back or “tater bug” mandolin, highly decorative even for this particular sort. Still in the possession of Dave’s family. No identifying labels or stamps.

Another childhood instrument, played by Dave on local radio at the age of 8, circa 1949: A standard German fiddle. Interior label reading “Copy of Antonius Stradivarius,” one of a countless number made in Germany before 1957. Still in the possession of Dave’s family.

Dave’s first guitar of his own, purchased at the age of 12, circa 1953: A Silvertone archtop ordered from the Sears & Roebuck catalog. Very likely to have been made by Harmony for the Sears Silvertone brand, this guitar has no identifying labels or stamps apart from the headstock logo. Still playable, albeit with an inordinately thick neck, and in good condition overall. Still in the possession of Dave’s family.

Silvertone Headstock Headstock of Dave’s Silvertone.

Silvertone Body Body of Dave’s Silvertone.

Captured image of Dave’s first electric guitar, purchased at the age of 14 or 15, circa 1956: An early model Fender Stratocaster with a 2-tone sunburst finish and a maple fretboard typical of its vintage. Dave traded this guitar for a Fender Jazzmaster. (Trading a ’56 Strat for a Jazzmaster may seem questionable today but, at the time, many considered the Jazzmaster to be a superior instrument.)

Composite image of Dave’s second electric guitar, circa 1959, and the one with which he recorded the Jin singles: A Fender Jazzmaster. Numerous black and white photographs of Dave’s actual Jazzmaster exist, but no color photos. It’s evident that Dave’s Jazzmaster had a tortoise-shell pickguard and was the earliest available in a Fender custom color. The exact shade of its dark blue finish is not as certain. While Lake Placid Blue Metallic would appear to be the most likely candidate, a member of Dave’s band during this period (who once considered buying the guitar from Dave) has identified the color as a “non-standard” blue sparkle. Dave traded this guitar for a Gibson ES-345.

Silvertone 1396 Captured image of one of Dave’s first amps, a Silvertone model 1396, circa 1958. A 50 watt combo with two 12” speakers. This amp is said to have been low on volume, but rich in tone.

Back of Silvertone 1396 Back of Silvertone amplifier.

Photographs taken in 2008 of the guitar that Dave played and owned until his death: A Gibson ES-345TD, semi-hollowbody archtop, cherry finish, thinline stereo model with the characteristic double humbucking pickups and an optional Vari-tone control. Retrofitted with a custom Bigsby B-7 vibrato unit. Made in the latter half of 1963 and bought new by Dave shortly thereafter. Serial number 132708, no visible FON (factory order number), one of 117 Gibson ES-345TDs made that year, still in the possession of Dave’s family.

Another front view in this series.

Close-up angled view.

Close-up of the body. The shorter black pickguard is indicative of mid-’60s ES-345 models. The “CUSTOM MADE” plate is essentially a cosmetic cover-up for the holes left behind when the original stop tailpiece was removed and the Bigsby vibrato was attached.


Close-up of the Bigsby vibrato, more susceptible to corrosion than all other hardware on the guitar, but still functional.

Close-up of the controls. All but one of the original volume and tone knobs are missing, but all were replaced with similar black “sombrero” knobs topped by gold inserts for the purpose of these photos. The fading gold ring underneath the original Vari-tone switch is indicative of mid-’60s ES-345 models. The Vari-tone switch is functional, and provides more tone colors than one might expect.

Close-up of the interior label, as viewed through the upper f-hole.

Close-up of the headstock with the well-known Gibson logo and their archetypal “crown” inlay motif.


Close-up of the fretboard with split-parallelogram inlays. Dave used Black Diamond strings but because lighter-gauge strings were not generally available, he used them in the following configuration: an A for low E, a D for A, and so on. Both the B and high E strings were a Black Diamond E. As Black Diamond strings became harder to find, Dave switched to a lighter-gauged Fender strings. Dave used a celluloid guitar pick for most of his career but switched to thinner-gauged, more flexible nylon picks as they became available.


Full back view. The original, heavily-traveled Gibson black hardshell case with a yellow plush interior still exists, but was not photographed for this session because of its deteriorated condition.


Back view of neck. The finish here is extensively worn due to countless hours of use. This particular model has an extremely thin neck. Dave had uncommonly large hands but this feature of the guitar obviously had no adverse effect upon his playing style.


Back view of the headstock. The Grover tuners are original. At some point around 1980, the entire head of this guitar snapped off behind the nut. Quite possibly, Gibson’s early use of a 17-degree headstock rake in its ES-300 series created a greater string tension that contributed to this breakage at the most acute point of curvature. It was so expertly repaired that the damage is barely visible, even in person. This damage and its subsequent repair did not affect the guitar’s integrity or playability.


Photographs taken in 2008 of the amplifier that Dave used and owned until his death: A Fender Twin Reverb manufactured in December of 1964 and purchased new by Dave shortly thereafter. Blackface, 85 watts, two each 12” non-original speakers of uncertain make (Dave blew the speakers on this amp on more than one occasion), the quintessential combo amp then and now, still in the possession of Dave’s family.


Dealer’s plate on top of amplifier. Purchased from H&H Music Co., a Houston-based music store currently affiliated with Brook Mays Music of Dallas. For many years, H&H was the top-level music store in Houston.


Close-up of front panel controls. Several of the original knobs have gone missing over time. Dave did not use any pedal accessories apart from the amp’s own vibrato/reverb footswitch.


Back of Fender Twin amplifier.


Rear panel controls.


Tube chart.

A classic blues guitar rig.

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