Tales of Rediscovery

There’s a video on YouTube from about 10 years back that features famed rock musician Peter Frampton being handed a black Les Paul, with palpable anticipation on his face. The guitar was allegedly the very one Frampton had played on some of his most well-known recordings and in many concerts during the ’70s, including the shows recorded for his massive Frampton Comes Alive album. However, that guitar was lost decades prior when a cargo plane carrying gear for the band crashed and burned in Venezuela. It was assumed the instrument had been destroyed with everything else on the plane, and Frampton has said the crew’s loss of life made investigating the equipment further seem trivial. He accepted that his cherished Les Paul was gone for good.

In the video, when Frampton gets his hands on the guitar in question, it takes mere seconds for his expression to change as he proclaims, “It’s my guitar.” A reunion transpires that is nearly incredible, the odds of it happening so slim, but even after further investigation, there seems to have been no question that this was indeed the same customized guitar Frampton had played more than 40 years prior. I couldn’t help noting the parallels between Frampton’s guitar recovery and some of the stories of vintage car owners rediscovering long-lost rides.

Electric guitars like the ones played by most rock musicians usually begin as mass-produced items, then over time, the custom touches of their owners and the wear and tear that occurs from use can leave each one somewhat unique, if only subtly so. It’s essentially the same way for vintage muscle cars.

Chevrolet pumped out Camaros just like Fender made as many Stratocasters as it could feasibly produce each year. And just as certain Camaros are more desirable than others (trim, model year, options, etc.), so too are particular Strats more prized. But they all roll off their respective production lines and out into the world, and some lucky owner starts enjoying each one. Some changes are made consciously — a set of mag wheels, an upgraded set of pickups — and other changes are not so intentional — a scratch here, a bump there. All become part of the signature of that individual item.

Muscle cars and electric guitars are things associated with youth, and the sorts of possessions many people let go of when the next phase of life begins. Sometimes thieves or accidents make the decision for us, but whatever the case, years on, we tend to long for those once-treasured bits of our younger years. Most of the time, a reasonable facsimile of the original is the best we can muster

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