Guitar Stories – Tim Lerch

When I was 19, I bought a 1952 ES 175 from a neighbor lady. It was the classic, “under the bed” guitar. I paid $350 for it and was over the moon with it! It was clean as new, and just like my idol, Jim Hall’s, guitar.

I played that guitar exclusively for many years, only switching to various solid body guitars as gigs demanded it. It had the best neck shape I have ever played, and it sounded incredible. As I played it over the years, it was reassuring to know that every ding, scratch, and modification (sometimes ill-advised) was made by me – I even scratched my name in the tailpiece with a nail at some point.

Years went by and I came to a juncture in my life when I decided to take a break from music and get my head together. I sold a bunch of guitars, including my baby, to Danny’s Music in Everett, Washington. Fast forward 15 years – and I return to the Seattle area and to playing full time. I called Danny and asked if he knew where my guitar ended up. He said he did know, and told me a story about a guy who played in a successful, local rock band, who’d bought it.

I happened to know the drummer in that band and asked him if I could possibly buy my baby back. He set up a meeting and I pleaded my case. The new owner said that he used that guitar for writing some of his most well known songs at home, and it had become a very special part of his life. He told me that one night he went to play a local show with his band and, for some reason, decided to take my ES175, which he had never done before. The show went well and he was happy but when he got home, his house had been broken into and ALL of his other instruments had been stolen. He vowed then and there never to part with his special friend, the 1952 ES175, which he was sure was saved from being stolen by some kind of divine intervention of sorts.

I politely begged him to sell it back to me, but sadly, he refused. I hope someday he’ll look down and see my name scratched into the tailpiece and reconsider.
Oh well – at least he loves it like I did.

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