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Replicas of Buddy Holly's J-45 & The Buddy Holly Guitar Foundation

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Last fall Christie’s auction house auctioned (well, tried to auction; bidding reached $380,000, but not the reserve) Buddy Holly’s Banner J-45 and called me in to play the guitar and tell them about it.

 

JohnwithBuddysGuitar1.jpg

 

Fast forward to a couple of months ago, and I began putting the The Buddy Holly Guitar Foundation together with Rick Turner and Peter Bradley. Last weekend, I held the first board meeting in Dallas, where Maria Elena Holly, Buddy's widow, joined our board.

 

Our Foundation will build perfect recreations of Mr. Holly’s 1943 Gibson guitar, including a hand-tooled, leather cover. Each guitar will bear one original fret from Mr. Holly’s guitar. We'll lend the guitars to artists whom the Foundation’s Board of Directors deem exemplary of Mr. Holly’s artist vision. The Foundation will require that the recipient artists use the instruments in a manner consistent with Mr. Holly’s “dreams and wishes” and for the purpose of raising funds for designated charitable organizations. Artists will receive the guitars for a two-year term, renewable at the option of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.

 

To date, joining me on the Board of Directors are Maria Elena Holly, Graham Nash, Jackson Browne, Henry Kaiser, Julian Lloyd Webber (Andrew Lloyd Webber’s cello-playing younger brother), guitar builder Rick Turner, and Buddy Holly fan extraordinaire, Peter Bradley.

 

For Rick Tuner’s cool role in this, see his blog.

 

I spent the past couple of days building the Buddy Holly Guitar Foundation website. This is a rough sketch. Once they have completed their spring semesters, my son will take over as webmaster and my daughter as contributing photographer and artistic consultant (or some such fancy title that she invents!). We've decided to take on the website as a family public service project. Bear in mind that it's still got a few typos and glitches. Please look through it and give me your thoughts, criticisms, and suggestions. At this point, the errors are all mine. But, by summer, I'll be able to blame my kids!

 

Thanks!

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Hey jt -

 

Glad to see you around again.

 

This sounds like an excellent effort for charity. [biggrin]

 

 

Now, what kind of shape is Buddy's J45 in, and how did it play and sound ?

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What an interesting idea. The website looks fine so far. Will there be large detailed photos of Buddy's guitar and his leather work on your website? I hope so. Even the picture of you, and I'm assuming that's you, playing Buddy's guitar was provoking. It's cool to know that he did that leather cover himself. He was obviously a unique person in many ways.

 

I'm from Iowa, and I have a tangential connection to Buddy. I played in a rock and roll band from Fort Dodge, Iowa. For years, we regularly gigged at the Laramar Ballroom, one of the last tour venues where Buddy appeared before Clear Lake. Playing rock and roll on stage in that room, which involved scores of gigs, including five consecutive New Year's Eves with sell-out crowds, never failed to give me goose-bumps, just to be appearing where Buddy had once played. God bless him. I hope your project is a big success. Shouldn't Paul McCartney be involved? Iowa will always have a special place in its heart for Buddy.... I know I do.

 

Jack6849

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Cool project. One typo that I would encourage you to fix sooner rather than later is the spelling of Jackson Browne's name on your "Artists". (I realize that you've just roughed things out at this point, but you definitely don't want to miss that one.)

 

The only in-depth comment that I would make is to be sure to include as many items as possible for search engines to find your site. Be sure each page includes meta tags for specific keywords and descriptions, as well as specific HTML titles for each page. If you can create links for important keywords (even to content within your own site) it will help as well. I don't know how much benefit it would have on a site the size of yours, but I doubt that it would hurt anything to include a "sitemap" file to help ensure that all pages are indexed in the search results. Also be sure to submit your site to Google and other search sites. It's been a while since I've messed with this stuff in detail (and I suppose this isn't the proper forum to go into great depth on things like this anyway) but I'm sure you can how-to details on all of the things I've mentioned by using the Internet to find more info.

 

Best of luck to you with your project!

Guth

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Hey JT! Doesn't all that leather "dampen" or "muffle" the sound of that (or any) guitar? I know it being Buddy Holly's guitar is special and all, and I applaud you're efforts, but personally I think the guitar is a little tacky. I would like to get my hands on some of those "horned-rimmed" glasses, though!!!

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Good work, jt! Honoring one of America's musical icons to the benefit of those in need is commendable work. I presume the artist's will make charity appearances with the 18 instruments........yes?

 

I wonder, though...... Has Gibson signed on with the reproductions of the banner '43? Will they be cosmetically exact?

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Thanks for the kind words and helpful suggestions, all! (And, especially noting the typo in Jackson's last name!).

 

On the website front, I will be adding a lot of pics as we start to put together the guitars. I plan on a separate page for each guitar. As soon as we have the leather cover for Graham's "Rave On," I'll post a bunch of pics.

 

As for Buddy's guitar, it is in great playing condition. That pic (of me) was taken at the party the evening before the auction. Some days earlier, I got a 1 1/2 hour private audience with the guitar. What a profound experience! That leather cover certainly muffles some of the sound, but I think that the guitar had one of the best bass tones I have ever heard. All but one of our replicas will have a removable cover with a zipper in the back. One will be sans zipper and Maria Elena Holly and I will take that guitar sometime this summer to Kalamazoo to have it inspected by the woman who inspected flattops during the war and who would have inspected Buddy's guitar. (I had the privilege of have her inspect my 1943 Gibson for the second time. Luckily, it passed both inspections!) Maria Elena and I will then take the guitar to Lubbock to present it to the Buddy Holly Center, where it will stay for a year.

 

Our replicas will be as exact as possible, including tone woods and hide glue, but we will be careful not to encroach upon Gibson's trademarks.

 

As for the suggestions as to recipient artists, we will be making one left handed guitar.

 

Please keep the comments and criticisms coming. You all have been very helpful.

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Thanks for your reply, John. Visiting with someone who has actually played Buddy's guitar, for me, is great. Did he ever perform on stage with the J-45? In my iconic mental image of him on stage, he is, of course, playing his Stratocaster. Perhaps he recorded with the J-45 before he got his J-200? Are there photos of him with the J-45? Those could be great on your website.... That one left-handed guitar that you mentioned you're planning, in the hands of the right artist, could make some musical history, and would undoubtedly raise a whole lot of money for a good cause like yours. Please sign me up for two front row seats immediately.

 

Best Wishes,

Jack6849

 

P.S. Your website mentions that the J-45 had a big clubby neck that Buddy loved.... You've played the guitar. What did you think of the neck? (and those frets...)

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Hey jt -

 

Glad to see you around again.

 

This sounds like an excellent effort for charity. [cool]

 

 

Now' date=' what kind of shape is Buddy's J45 in, and how did it play and sound ?

 

[/quote']

 

 

I was wondering the same. Did you play without that silly leather cover (With all respect to Buddy)

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Thanks so much for the interest, folks! a few answers:

 

AFAIK, Buddy did not perform with the J-45. But, it was his main song writing guitar.

 

I played the guitar with cover on, and it sounded fantastic.

 

The guitar does have a big neck, which I love. I've got three Banner Gibsons -- 1942 LG-1, 1943 SJ, 1943 L-50 -- and love those big necks.

 

The guitar now has lovely frets, courtesy of Rick Turner. That's how we've come to have 1 original fret for each replica.

 

Thanks, again!

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Great project, JT. Buddy and Lightning Hopkins have been a point of focus for me, both in terms of style and sound --and both played that slope J/strat combo. Like Jack, Id be curious to know if there is a picture of him playing it. Best, JK

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I was wondering the same. Did you play without that silly leather cover (With all respect to Buddy)

 

In Turner's blog he states that Gary Busey brought the guitar to him for a refret but he would not allow Rick to remove the leather cover to repair some body cracks. The cracks were repaired working through the soundhole. As old as the leather is it might not survive removal intact.

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In Turner's blog he states that Gary Busey brought the guitar to him for a refret but he would not allow Rick to remove the leather cover to repair some body cracks. The cracks were repaired working through the soundhole. As old as the leather is it might not survive removal intact.

 

Yes, indeed. Rick is one of my founding board members on the Buddy Holly Guitar foundation and attending my first board meeting in Dallas a couple of weeks ago with Maria Elena Holly. Rick and I have talked at length about Buddy's guitar. I took detailed photos and X-rays of a guitar in the same batch as Buddy's (FON 907) and Rick and I have worked very closely on the details of the replicas. rick is an amazing guy.

 

Thanks so much for taking an interest!

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To jt (John),

 

Once again, thanks for your comments on Buddy's J-45. If it was, as you say, his "main song writing guitar", then it's every bit as historically significant as his stage performance instrument. He was one of early rock's best composers, and the original tunes he left us are iconic, to say the least. To think that some of them were written on that J-45.... Oh, Boy!

 

Jack6849

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Truly fascinating, jt.

 

Is it a requirement that all of the artists have a certain level of commercial success/fundraising potential, or can local musicians become one of the foundation's artists? How will the artists chosen?

 

Thanks in advance for your response.

 

Red 333

Waiting desperately for jt's Banner book....

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Is it a requirement that all of the artists have a certain level of commercial success/fundraising potential' date=' or can local musicians become one of the foundation's artists? How will the artists chosen?[/quote']

 

 

Thanks, Red. We're working on this and hope to iron it out at our next meeting. We obviously want some well known names for fund raising leverage. But, we'd also like to involve the "next generation" of singer/songwriter/musicians. I'm in the very early stages now of hammering out the foundation documents that will spell out the process. But, having put together the corporation and founding documents and building the website, I'm gonna have to attend to my day job (grading exams) and the Banner book (getting close!), too.

 

Thanks all for the interest, advice, and questions.

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Didn't Rick Turner work for Alembic before he set out on his own. I have only played one of his guitars but it was a sweetie.

 

Hey, I think Gruhn or someone had Buddy's Magnatone amp up for grabs a while back. Add a DeArmond 210 pickup and what a flippin pair the guitar amd amp would make.

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Didn't Rick Turner work for Alembic before he set out on his own. I have only played one of his guitars but it was a sweetie.

 

Rick founded Alembic. His list of accomplishments, clients, and patents if frighteningly impressive.

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Hey' date=' I think Gruhn or someone had Buddy's Magnatone amp up for grabs a while back.

[/quote']

 

George Gruhn has it still, it's on the Homepage right now.

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Jinx,

 

Thanks so much for your post! I had no idea that a movie version of Bradley Denton's novel was in the works! Very, very cool.

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