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Demolished Custom Yairi


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Since I've seen a number of posts on this site about other guitars besides just Gibsons, I wanted to tell the story of a guitar I inherited last year. I first met Dave Grana four years ago when he drove up from Houston to Fort Worth to purchase a guitar from me I had advertised online. While speaking with him in his hotel room I discovered that in addition to having the same first name, we were the same age and liked all the same artists. I had an overwhelming feeling I had known this guy my whole life, the first time I'd ever experienced that. Over the next four years we visited back and forth, mostly with me driving to Houston to spend a weekend at his incredible condo in the heart of downtown Houston in a wealthy enclave known as River Oaks. I learned he was from a wealthy family who were in shipping and had their own dock on the Houston ship channel. Dave had an awesome collection of fine acoustics including a $12,000 matching wood amp and guitar set from the Taylor Builder's Reserve series, two Taylor Cujos, a Guild Doyle Dykes 12 string, A custom factory order Taylor GS, a few luthier built classicals, an original Fullerton Fender 1957 Stratocaster in a rare Capri orange color, several others I can't recall, and his favorite he'd had the longest, a Yairi super abalone he went to Japan in 1982 and directly commissioned from Kazuo Yairi. Every time I was there he handed me the Yairi to hear me play a fingerstyle version of Morning Has Broken on it.


Dave took incredible care of his guitars, to the extent he insisted I drape a towel over the side of any of them when I played one. His guitars were all flawless. During my visits I eventually met his two brothers and became friends with them as well. When Dave found out I had an Ovation acoustic/electric but no amp he asked for my shipping address. I had no idea why until a week later when the top of their line Acoustic brand amp was delivered to my house. Dave had previously beaten one round of cancer in his neck where the tumor required removal of the right carotid artery and months of radiation. During the time I knew him, tha cancer returned with a tumor on the other side of his neck that was wrapped around the remaining carotid. There was nothing doctors could do for him. I watched his rapid decline to where he could no longer speak intelligibly. Once, during this time, I was at his condo and his oldest brother was there. Dave said "when I'm gone I want Dave (me) to play Morning Has Broken on the Yairi at my serice and then take it home with him". His brother said he wouldn't forget that. A few months later that eventuality came to pass.


The Yairi was a masterpiece of fine wood with extensive abalone lining virtually every line of the guitar, including the neck, headstock, front, back and sides. Its 36 year old matured voice made it a guitar that should have only been played for the gods. I was deeply thankful he wanted me to have his favorite longest in his collection guitar. Every time I played it at my weekly jam with a room full of guys with top of the line Taylors, Martins, Guilds and Gibsons, the Yairi was the voice heard above all of them. I finally put a stop to the question of how much I'd sell it for by saying "I wouldn't trade it even for every guitar in this room". I meant it. I was always being asked by someone if they could play it.


We were on an out of state trip with our new Ford Explorer we'd had a few weeks and were stopped in construction traffic on an Illinois freeway. Suddenly our car was impacted from the rear and virtually seemed to explode as glass blew out everywhere and the horrible sound of crunching metal at the same time. We were propelled into another car that was totaled instantly like ours was. The guy who hit me had his Silverado pickup totaled as well and eventually hit an 18 wheeler too. There was another accident investigation in progress by State Troopers about 50 yards behind us. A Trooper was at our car in less than two minutes and told us he saw the pickup driver go by rubbernecking the other accident and that he never touched his brakes before hitting us at what the Trooper estimated was over 50mph. My wife an I were told to stay in our car until another ambulance arrived. I told a fireman on the scene I had a valuable guitar in the back of the car that couldn't set out in the heat wherever my car would be towed to and stored. He offered to take it to the fire station in a nearby town for me to pick up after we were released from the hospital. My wife and I both had fractures in our backs but were released later that same day and told to see a doctor when we got back home. A rental car was delivered to us and I went in search of the town and the fire station. When the case was brought out to me I noticed extensive damage. I nearly vomited when I opened it up to see the extensive crush damage to the one of a kind Yairi. The sides were crushed and the top was split in several places. Little pieces of abalone inlay were scattered everywhere in the case. I was as crushed as the guitar.


I mentioned this on another forum and was contacted by a guy who gave me the name of a restoration expert I learned worked in the Martin repair department for 22 years. I sent him a ton of detailed pics of the guitar and he quoted me $800 and four of five months to restore it. He assured me he could make it a survivor that would once again be entirely playable and that it would take close examination to tell it had ever suffered such extensive damage. He also sent me an appraisal letter with a valuation of four thousand dollars for the guitar. I was able to get the at fault driver's insurance to send a check for three thousand immediately as a settlement for the guitar. SInce the wreck I've had a vertebrae fusion in my neck and on December 17th will have rods put in my lumbar spine. After I am healed from that, my law firm in Houston, Texas has all but guaranteed me I'll get a settlement for the maximum amount of coverage State Farm offers, as will my wife for her back injuries that won't require any treatment, just time to heal. After that, the Yairi will be on its way to Missouri to the restorer.


I helped my deceased friend's brother who inherited his extensive estate sell off my friend's guitar collection as he knew nothing about them. I was able to get one that was left, the factory custom Taylor GS for $2,000 that he paid six grand for in 2012. At the time I got it I didn't know it had a cedar top. At my jam it was one of the quietest guitars there. I was pretty disappointed even though it was a beautiful guitar with Myrtlewood back and sides. I saw an ad on Craigslist from a guy offering a 2016 le Custom Shop Advanced Jumbo maple for sale or trade. Sale price was $2,600 firm. In talking with him I learned he was a collector like my friend and was looking for a Taylor. I gave him the serial number of the Taylor and he obtained a build sheet from the factory for it and was instantly desirous to make the trade. I told him the Taylor was totally flawless and the Gibson would have to be as well for me to make the even trade. He said it had been out of the case twice since 2016 to be played and other times just to recharge the humidifier. I met with him and was blown away by that AJ. I was instantly grateful one of my friend's guitars led to me acquiring what I now consider to be the finest acoustic/electric I've ever owned in nearly 50 years. This is the guitar my kids will fight over when I'm gone from this earth. It is a stellar sounding guitar whether I play it fingerstyle or strummed with a pick. It's probably the only guitar that could lessen the sting of the crushed Yairi. I'm sorry for the 5 minutes of your life you can never get back by reading all this, but I wanted to share the entire story of how I came to ba an ecstatic Gibson owner!

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