The Vintage guitar market has certainly changed a lot over the last 40 years or so, back in 1978 you could acquire a 1959 Les Paul “Burst” for $1800, now you would be looking at $250k-$400k depending on the individual guitars attributes.
Today an Alnico pickup equipped Gibson Byrdland in blonde finish is a very rare,valuable & desirable guitar, back in 1978 it was simply a used Gibson & a fairly odd choice for a working musician like me “why pay more for a 2nd hand guitar when a new one is cheaper …and better”?, I heard this phrase over & over again, what is more I had the unfashionable (at the time) natural finish, I simply didn’t realise or care that the blonde finish was super rare whereas the sunburst option was relatively plentiful, what is a guitar player to do in such a predicament?, obvious, refinish the guitar, change it from blonde to sunburst, this will be easy I thought, wrong again, not easy & very time consuming however, I was determined, it had to be done.
At the time I was living in Leeds in the north of England, word reached me that there was this guru guy based in Huddersfield who went by the trade name of “Paulman” ( his real name was Paul McNabb) who could repair just about any guitar, not only that he actually built his own guitars, this was all pure wonderment to me, I did not know that it was possible to build your own guitar, I hadn’t yet heard of Tony Zemaitis, let alone started selling Zemaitis guitars. I had seen his guitars on Top of The Pops but had no idea that they weren’t mass produced, I assumed that all guitars were built by Gibson, Fender etc etc.
Anyway, following a few phone calls I discovered that Paul could not only build a guitar, he could refinish one also, without thinking about it I had my pride & joy delivered to Paul & started to countdown the days/months until my shiny new sunburst Byrdland would be back with me, nice perfect finish, none of that nasty lacquer checking that guys pay so highly for today.
In total, it took six months for my guitar to come back, the image you see was taken in my very English bedroom on the day my guitar arrived home.
Fast forward to just this week & I acquire this Paulman Zenith, a Byrdland “inspired” electric archtop, sunburst finish no less!, genuine Gibson Byrdland tailpiece no less! Which Paul converted from gold to Chrome (there he goes again!)
it is a stunning guitar, really really superb, it oozes the personality of the man, it was ordered by a friend of mine who wanted to contribute to Paul’s business rebuild following a devastating fire at his shop in 2006, the guitar was completed in 2008, sadly Paul passed on in 2010 after battling a long illness, I will never forget how he treated me so incredibly well & with such patience, after all, i was a 20yr old penniless musician who wanted his guitar to change color, I wasn’t bringing him lucrative guitar building work, he was a legend in my eyes.
RIP Paul McNabb AKA “Paulman”