Power chords, screaming leads, and sweeping arpeggios are indelible parts of our culture, which is why so many Americans have an emotional connection to the guitar. And some are lucky enough to acquire rare beauties—from custom models to vintage classics with pedigree. Ahead, five local aficionados share their stories about the showstopping craftsmanship and legendary provenance that drew them to their favorite instruments.
“Can you hear that?” Auto magnate Ernie Boch Jr. plays a few notes on a blue acoustic Martin. The sound is crisp. Clear.
“Guitars always fascinated me,” says Boch, who began playing as a kid in the 1970s. “There’s an old saying that the body of a guitar is shaped like a woman. Of course, every woman is different and [so is] every guitar.”
And he should know. By his own count, Boch—whose band, Ernie and the Automatics, once toured with Deep Purple—owns a staggering 75 guitars, a collection he’s been curating for 15 years. His treasures run the gamut from 1930s vintage Gibsons to a custom-made Headhunter to this Artist model Les Paul. The guitar is a replica of “Lucy,” the 1957 Les Paul Goldtop—refinished in cherry red—that Eric Clapton gave to George Harrison.
“Gibson made a bunch of these. The Harrison family got number one, and I got number two,” Boch says. “It plays really nicely, and has just got such a cool history.”
Ed Anderson, the head of North Bridge Venture Partners, is drawn to guitars built by modern luthiers with an eye for innovation. That’s what appealed to him about this Solo model archtop guitar, crafted by master guitar builder James D’Aquisto.
Originally made for jazz legend George Benson in 1991, the maple-and-spruce guitar features modern accents including four sound holes, a pick guard, and a popsicle-stick bridge.
“[D’Aquisto was] special among all luthiers because he took the guitar to new and unexpected places,” says Anderson, who taught himself to play guitar in his early teens. “For the time it was built, [the Solo] was a space-age-looking instrument.”
Anderson’s guitars are definitely not just for show—he plays instruments from his collection whenever he can. “They don’t sound as good when you don’t play them,” he says. “You have to keep them warm.”
“It just kind of happened organically,” says Bob Davoli of his acoustic-guitar collection, which includes some 25 instruments.
A venture capitalist at Sigma Prime Ventures by day, Davoli is all about music in his spare time. He’s the frontman of the Bob Davoli Band, and looks for “well-balanced” guitars that complement his finger-picking playing style. This John Monteleone flat-top guitar, custom-made for Davoli in 2012, is his pride and joy. “It’s a jazz guitar, [so] it works very well for country blues,” Davoli says of this Radio Volante model. “I’m a singer-songwriter, and I like a guitar with a warm, full sound.”
Brookline resident Tommy Tucciarone has been building his collection of electric and hollow-bodied guitars for just under a decade: “They’re stashed all around [my home]. I actually broke my closet once from cramming too much stuff in there. I learned how to spackle that day.”
The guitar that started it all was this thin-necked 1988 Mosrite, previously owned by punk rocker Kim Shattuck of the Muffs. Tucciarone outbid other collectors in a silent auction via email after learning that the guitar was up for grabs through an announcement on Shattuck’s Myspace page in 2007. “It’s actually a rare model that Semie Moseley built in 1988,” Tucciarone says. “There’s not a whole lot of them floating around.”
Local singer-songwriter Ellis Paul first spotted this custom Taylor acoustic guitar while performing at a vintage-guitar shop in Oklahoma.
Seduced by its sleek cocobolo-wood body and deep, rich tone, the Maine native knew then and there that it was the instrument he had to take on stage with him every night.
“It fits my playing style to a tee,” Paul says. “I own a dozen guitars, but this is the queen of them all.”
The guitar, which Paul affectionately calls “Guinness” in reference to its stout-like coloring, may be royalty, but that hasn’t made it immune to the wear and tear of the road. It’s been repaired at least twice, once after a falling speaker system put a fist-sized hole in its side. Still, Paul says it sounds just as good as it ever did.
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