Ed Driscoll

Rare Guitars on Display at the 2022 Dallas International Guitar Festival

Photo by Ed Driscoll

On Saturday, I attended the 2022 Dallas International Guitar Festival at the Dallas Market Hall, the second festival after a timeout in 2020 due to the pandemic lockdown. As I wrote last year at Instapundit, unlike the previous guitar shows in the DFW Metroplex, 2021’s show had a somewhat more low-key feel, lacking the large exhibits by the music industry heavy hitters such as Gibson and Fender. (In pre-pandemic times, a large trailer owned by Gibson would be displaying their newest and most impressive guitars, Fender usually had a large display, and Roland was showing off the latest effects in their Boss line as well.)

The Dallas Market Hall Convention Center.

While Gibson and Fender were still absent in person, this time around it was nice to see a few bigger names back on display, such as…

Taylor Guitars:

Eventide Audio:

The Eventide Booth.

Hercules Guitar Stands:

The Lads Manning the Hercules Guitar Stands Booth.

Vintage Guitar magazine:

Another bigger name that’s a regular at the Dallas guitar shows is Heritage Auctions. Here, right at the entrance to the 2022 show, was George Harrison’s 1958 “Ransom” Les Paul:

George Harrison's 1958

George Harrison's 1958

This guitar was purchased by Harrison in order to recover his famed 1957 red-top Les Paul, nicknamed “Lucy,” given to him by Eric Clapton, and played by Clapton on the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in 1968. As Gibson noted in 2010 when they released limited-edition reproductions of Lucy:

The fabled red Les Paul was stolen from under the bed of George Harrison’s Beverly Hills home during a burglary in the early ’70s. Eventually it ended up at the Guitar Center in Hollywood, where a musician from Mexico purchased the instrument for $650. After a complex set of negotiations involving a third party and a trip to Mexico, ‘Lucy’ was eventually returned to Harrison in exchange for a ’58 sunburst Les Paul and a Precision bass.

“[‘Lucy’] got kidnapped and taken to Guadalajara,” George would later muse, “and I had to buy this Mexican guy a Les Paul to get it back.” His beloved ‘Lucy’ Les Paul would remain a prized part of George Harrison’s collection until his death in 2001.

More details on Lucy and the “Ransom” guitar incident at the Les Paul Forum, appropriately enough. Also going up on the auction block is another former Beatle’s Les Paul, Paul McCartney’s 1988 southpaw  “Black Beauty” Gibson Les Paul Custom:

Paul McCartney's Left-Handed 1988 Gibson Les Paul Custom.

Also a regular at the show is Fuller’s Vintage Guitars of Houston, which had numerous Gibson Historic Les Pauls on display, and Fender’s recreation of the late Eddie Van Halen’s iconic homemade “Frankenstein” guitar:

Jimmy Wallace of nearby Garland, Texas has organized the annual Dallas guitar shows beginning in 1978. A couple of years later, his music store was among the first to ask Gibson to produce a line of Les Pauls with features similar to those of the fabled 1958-1960 sunburst model. With truss road covers labeled “Jimmy Wallace Model,” these guitars are highly desirable among collectors.

Not surprisingly, as one of the names behind the annual Dallas guitar show, Wallace has one of the largest booths at this year’s show, a veritable maze of electric and acoustic guitars on display. If you’re looking for new or vintage Gibson Les Pauls, Fender Stratocasters, Telecasters, or Gibson or Martin acoustic guitars, they’re here, and for sale:

This Les Paul was emblazoned with a reproduction of a poster commemorating a guitar show that sadly never happened:

At another booth, Guitar House of Tulsa, a rare 1969 Les Paul Professional guitar (apparently only 118 were built by Gibson) was for sale for $3,299.99:

The Les Paul Professional was inspired by Les’s obsession with high-impedance pickups due to their high signal-to-noise ratio even with lengthy cable runs. A very clean-sounding guitar, Les played this style for decades starting in the late 1960s. Yet it never caught on with rock guitarists, who like their guitar and pickup designs from the 1950s and are willing to wrestle with the additional noise that such older technology generates.

A vintage Fender Stratocaster could be seen in the booth of veteran Gibson Les Paul Forum member Terry Mueller. This 1958 Strat contains a highly flamed maple neck. As Terry and his booth-mates explained to me, flamed maple was very rare on vintage Fender guitars, given Leo Fender’s notoriously tight rein on the Fender purse strings.

Also at Mueller’s booth was a vintage Martin ukulele, owned by the wife of New York Yankees pitcher Jim Turner:

Last week, Steve Green wrote a post at PJM asking if Steve Martin was going to be canceled over his hit comedy song “King Tut” from 1978. King Tut a victim of cancel culture?! Well, now we know the answer — far from being canceled; King Tut is happily selling guitars at both his Arkansas dealership and at the 2022 Dallas guitar show!

Of course, when not singing about the commercial exploitation of a legendary 18th Dynasty Egyptian pharaoh, Martin also famously liked to “get small” in the 1970s as well. While not strictly legal in most parts of Texas, it’s possible to get small here at the guitar show, as these miniature drum kits recreating Keith Moon’s 1967-era “Pictures of Lily” drum kit and a pair of John Bonham’s drum kits demonstrate:

Note the miniature recreations of Prince’s Telecaster (with its distinctive leopard skin-styled pickguard), and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s monogrammed Stratocaster above the drum kits at the Lone Star Music Memorabilia booth.

The Dallas shows also have a lifestyle element to them. There are frequently massage tables, and in 2022, massage devices for sale:

I Could Have Used This by the end of the Show.

And since none of us are getting any younger, this display seemed quite appropriate. No doubt the stroke trailer saw plenty of action after attendees saw some of the prices of the rarer vintage guitars at the show:

Setting it apart from the guitar show each fall in nearby Arlington, live music is a staple of the Dallas guitar show. The show concludes Saturday night with blues jams featuring all of the major players, who perform individual sets during the day. Here’s the Ally Venable Band fronted by the 23-year-old Ally Venable.

Abby is a great blues guitarist, and can also demonstrate some serious guitar face when she tears into her licks:

We Have Guitar Face!

Finally, after the show, my wife and I retired to nearby Toulouse Café and Bar, whose menu seems like it was cloned from the Left Bank in San Jose’s Santana Row, our favorite weekly haunt for the last five years or so that we lived in California.

Toulouse on a Saturday Afternoon.

Try the Steak Tartare, which is fantastic:

We each had Steak Tartare as our Main Course.

Hopefully, at next year’s Dallas International Guitar Festival, more music industry titans will be displaying their wares in person once again. But even if the big boys still have their COVID-induced cold feet, there will still be loads of rare guitars and fun to be had at the show.