1961 Custom Esquire used on Johnny Cash recording?

Discussion in 'Vintage Tele Discussion Forum (pre-1974)' started by punch, Nov 7, 2013.

  1. punch

    punch Tele-Meister

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    Hi guys,

    I might be able to buy a 1961 Custom Esquire (sunburst) that belonged to Sylvia Massy, a famous recording engineer, that worked together with producer Rick Rubin on the Johnny Cash 'Unchained' album...also with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. This guitar was used on that album...says the seller. There is documentation from Sylvia with the guitar to prove it and I also found the guitar on her facebook page and some pics on the internet of the guitar in her studio...

    The Esquire has a 6/61 neck date, a 5/61 body date and the pots are from week 35 in 1961...BUT...there's one issue here: the original pickup that is still with the guitar has been replaced by a newer one (for purpose of less noise in a studio environment I was told)...everything else is original, all of the wiring, pots, caps, finish, hardware, etc...and it comes in the original brown tolex case.

    My question is what would be the value of this guitar, in this condition (and supposing the pickup in the case is the original bridge pickup, I think it is) without the Johnny Cash story (looking at it as an 'ordinary' 1961 sunburst Custom Esquire) and what would be a proper value if the Johnny Cash story is all true?

    I don't mind the Cash-thing at all, I just want the guitar for what it is: a sunburst 1961 Custom Esquire!

    The seller is asking a ridiculous amount of money now but I think I might be able to buy it for around 15K...would that be ok? What would be the value these days of a 100% original 1961 sunburst Custom Esquire? I know, this one is not really 100% original but with two solder joints it kinda will be...:)

    Here are some pics (with the original pickup still in it), all looks good to me, but please take a close look at the neck-plate...looks a bit too big in the right top corner or it wasn't attached straight...is this normal?

    Please advice, thanks!!! (by the way, it's not at vintage-guitar.de anymore)

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  2. lewis

    lewis Poster Extraordinaire

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    The Johnny Cash connection is a stretch as far as value is concerned. It's not as iconic as the Tele that Luther played on "Folsom".
    Vintage double-bound Teles are special in their own right. The price seems to be in the ballpark.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2013
  3. punch

    punch Tele-Meister

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    Hi guys,

    Come on, give me some input here, please! :)
     
  4. punch

    punch Tele-Meister

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    By the way, it's not a cash deal...I would trade my 1964 Stratocaster for this 1961 Custom Esquire...no cash involved...I'm a tele guy so that's why...but I'm having doubts here...I mean, three pickups on the strat, one on the esquire...and are these guitars comparable value-wise? According to the 2013 Vintage guitar price guide the 61 Custom Esquire even has a bit more value (and then we're not even considering the Johnny Cash connection)...

    Do or don't?
     
  5. 4192362

    4192362 Tele-Meister

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    Luther played a 63 Maple cap Esquire on live at Folsom.

    I'd make that trade regardless of the history.
     
  6. ScottJPatrick

    ScottJPatrick Friend of Leo's

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    my dream guitar from the year of my birth, go for it. JC connection probably can't be proven but don't think it affects the value much anyway, make sure the pup in the case is the original one. Plenty old strats out there, there's one for sale at the moment on Craiglist courtesy of one of our members for a lot less than $15,000.
     
  7. punch

    punch Tele-Meister

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    This guitar never was played by Luther Perkins, that's not what I meant...it was probably played by Tom Petty, Marty Stuart and/or Mike Campbell who all played electric guitar on the 1997 Johnny Cash Grammy Award winning 'Unchained' album. It belonged to Sylvia Massy who was the recording engineer for that album, produced by Rick Rubin. There's a written document by Sylvia Massy in the case.
     
  8. 4192362

    4192362 Tele-Meister

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    If you could travel and play the guitar, that would be the best thing, I'm not sure - properly thinking about it, I could drop or trade that much money for a guitar I hadn't played.
     
  9. punch

    punch Tele-Meister

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    I'm not gonna buy it unseen or unplayed...I might go there tomorrow to see, play and hear the guitar. It has to be a VERY nice and good one, and I have to fall in love the moment I open the (brown) case or otherwise I won't trade my '64 strat because that's also a great guitar (and 100%)!!!
     
  10. sparkletele123

    sparkletele123 Tele-Meister

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    I would do it. With an Esquire you can Achieve brighter shimmering cleans. If you dig Fender Clean Twang, then an Esquire is for you. You can still get a variety of tones regardless of the one Pup.
     
  11. Old Bill

    Old Bill Tele-Holic

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    My old Dad(Grhs) used to say "If they don't want it, you don't want it!).
     
  12. backalleyblues

    backalleyblues Friend of Leo's

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    Hmmm, that's a tough one... I agree, see if the guitar speaks to you. Custom Esquires are pretty rare birds, and assuming the original pickup is in the case, it just might be the real deal for you. Trade-wise, it's pretty much a wash, there's a lot of mid 60s strats out there, but a lot of people want them, too... Esquires, not quite so much...

    It's definitely a deal I'd want to sleep on...

    A very good question for the OP-is your strat a daily player, or a closet queen? I'd have a much harder time moving a daily player, especially if I've become attached to it...

    Franc Robert
     
  13. bingy

    bingy Friend of Leo's

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    It's safe to say, you would wait a long time to see another one like this.
     
  14. telex76

    telex76 Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    If you are talking a straight trade, I'd do it after making close inspection and verification.
     
  15. punch

    punch Tele-Meister

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    Yes, I'm talking a straight trade
     
  16. Booman

    Booman Tele-Holic

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    A tough decision. Is your strat a custom color? Personally I'd keep the strat if it were a custom color. I love Esquire's in burst and I like them double bound. You may get shimmering highs out of that beautiful Esq. but you won't get all that the strat can give you. Just my ears. Good luck. Either way you win!
     
  17. simonsp

    simonsp Friend of Leo's

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    Is it the same Esquire that was knocking around on Ebay a few months back? That one had some Rubin/Cash connection. If so, seems like it's having a hard time finding a loving home.
     
  18. BopT

    BopT Tele-Afflicted

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    I would need to play it and get a value for your Strat find out current market. Custom Esquires from that time period are 15-20k if 100%. Good hunting!
     
  19. MickM

    MickM Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Given all you've said, I'd most likely do the trade. Don't forget to take a meter along to check out the other/original pickup. Also....Keep us posted!!
     
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