I keep falling in love with these cheap guitars

The guy who sold them to me does, too. I’ve now bought a second one from him in the past 12 months.  I met this seller on Craigslist last March. The first one I bought remains one of my favorites to play a year later.

“Inexpensive” is a better word for these guitars than cheap. The latest one plays well and stays in tune. It’s pretty, red and sounds great.

A Tale of Two Teles
A Tale of Two Teles

The seller’s name is Dave. The story he tells is that he picks them up from a small custom shop in Nashville. Pressed for details, Dave says “It’s just a guy working out of his basement.” I think he builds them himself. He shouldn’t feel the need to make up stories. These are fine, playable guitars.

My feeling is he buys them half-made or just gets the parts, finishes them, plays with them awhile then sells them off for money to repeat the process. To me, what he charges makes the purchase of them frictionless. To him, he makes enough to buy, finish, play and sell again. Even if he does eat a bit of cash on each, his wife said it’s better than him drinking or womanizing.

They don’t have a name on them — they “ought” to say Fender or carry another big brand on the headstock. That’s why Dave might be telling stories. Big brands are great to have — I own a Fender and a Gibson and believe in their value. At the same time, Dave has now sold me two guitars. I’m enjoying both of them. The process is part of the enjoyment — sitting in his dining room, playing through different amps, having Dave disappear into another room and bashfully bringing back Yet Another Guitar from his unseen collection. Dave is now a brand.  Weather he’s buying, building, or both, he’s won my admiration and my dollars. Fenders and Gibsons hold their positions, and Dave joins them in his own place.


By Steve McNally

I build products, teams and business lines that blend publishing, marketing and advertising technologies for global brands and startups.