When it comes to instrument purchases lately, particularly Electras, am I on a run of bad luck, stupid decisions, or both.
First there was the X135 Anniversary Edition I bought sight unseen from a Guitar Center. The kid at the store confirmed that there was an Anniversary plate on it. What he failed to mention was that the Matusomoku pickups had been swapped out for some mystery-meat garbage. Then I missed a much better Anniversary X155 through a mis-click on eBay. Then there was an X185 in Graphite that looked brilliant in photos but quite dull in person.
Finally, today’s arrival: a 1982-build X155 Phoenix. I’ve often said that if I could pick just one guitar to exemplify the Electra Phoenix, it would be the X155. It’s the right materials (maple body and neck, rosewood fretboard), the right pickups (the properly-spaced later MMK45s), the right bridge (Strat-style trem instead of a fixed bridge or Bendmaster) and right aesthetic (pearl white with matching headstock). Well, this is the worst X155 I’ve ever seen. It arrived in a monstrous box that had ten pounds of styrofoam peanuts in it.
The guitar had fallen out of the case during shipping. There’s a fairly serious crack in the body/neck joint. These are par for the course in Phoenixes and they usually don’t affect anything, but the photo in the original listing doesn’t show it very well. Which makes me think it happened during shipping. Which infuriates me.
The complete disregard with which these guitars are treated by eBay sellers, pawnshops, MusicGoRounds, and Guitar Centers helps me understand why so many of the “Burst” Les Pauls from 1958-1959 are still missing despite the fact that any of them would be worth $150,000 in any condition if they could be found today. There’s nothing quite as worthless as an old guitar in the eyes of a lot of people. The fact that none of the Electras I bought lately set me back more than $299 drives that point home.
I bet you that there are still hundreds of extremely valuable Les Pauls sitting in barns and basements, crushed and broken, forgotten and abandoned. They’re out there to be found, but the people who find them won’t like the condition their conditions are in, to quote the old song. Luckily for me, I’m not in that market. I’m just buying guitars from 1981 and 1982, buying them cheap and stacking them deep, building a fortress of rock maple around an idealized version of my childhood, you get the idea.
Still — just look at the photo. Like Randal said, there are a bunch of savages in this town, and other towns.