When a former Motorcycle repairman went into guitar dealing, the infuriating case of Ed Roman.

Short on cash

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I did business with him over a few years....before he went to Vegas.
Bought a few guitars from him. Gibsons and Hamers. They were top
shelf stuff.
He was always pleasant and always gave me a fair price.

I never owned any of his "custom" guitars but did see/play a few
and must say the fit and finish was as good or better than anything
else out there.

I remember a few times we would talk for perhaps 30 or 40 minutes and
I usually got a kick out of his stories. He was a remarkable character.

I do remember the HC rants. Some were just this side of obscene !

I get the "butchering a guitar" thing. It's an opinion.
Some of Ed's retops were spectacular. The fit and finish
was the same.


In the 70's everyone "modded" their guitars. How many of those
were butchered ? Holes drilled all over, switches, those stupid whammy
bar things......if I had a really nice guitar that was in disrepair and it could
be retopped with the quality of Ed's work I would not hesitate.

I will add that I would never pass it off as original. I'm the type guy that would
have/keep and pass on all the paperwork that went with it.

I have read all the crap about Ed. I get it. I'm merely adding that I never
had a problem with him. I will also say that I knew what Ed was before
the first time I ever spoke with him. So I knew what to expect.

Did I agree with him on everything ? NO
Did I like everything he did ? NO
Did I like all of his builds ? A big NO
He built some gaud awful ugly crap. But they were well
built and finished.

I always got a kick out of chatting with him. He could be
quite funny and his stories were hilarious !

Take it for what it's worth and.......play on !
 

Dave W

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I read a lot of negative things about Ed Roman over the years, but I never heard that he modified instruments without the owners' permission.

I won't watch that "Ed Roman: The Fake Guitar King" video, it's just clickbait from a wannabe influencer.

 

dspellman1

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Chopping up vintage Gibsons to transplant their necks into newly made bodies, going "I'll make them better than Gibson could EVER make them themselves." And "I'll improve that stock guitar so much by re-topping it!"


Roman had no issue with selling BC Rich branded instruments which were not approved by the company who legally owned BC Rich, defiling vintage instruments to "Improve them."


Has anybody ever visited that store?
I visited it whenever I was in Las Vegas. Haven't been there since he died.
He and I got along fine.

He took "upgrading" and "modding" further than most here would do, but the finished guitars that I saw were actually pretty nice. I had no more problem with him transplanting, etc., than I would with someone cobbling together Strats and Teleblasters from aftermarket bodies and necks. The truth is, Gibson has always had a paucity of AAAA lumber and, for the most part, would refuse to do what some folks wanted on their guitars (jumbo frets, flatter radius fretboards, modified neck heels, tops and headstocks done with fancier woods, such as spalted maple, maple burl, quilted maple, etc., ad nauseam), so Ed would do it.

He was a great source for guitars that only a few players knew about. Neal Schon tried to introduce his own signature guitars around the time of Bad English (you'll find them in Bad English videos), but they didn't really go anywhere and he had a lot of trouble getting the original builder to complete them. In the end, he abandoned the project and Ed Roman bought the leftovers and was the only source for bodies and necks (and whole guitars) if you wanted one.

He was cranky, irritable and did not suffer fools and had more and wilder guitars than any guitar shop I've ever been in.
 

Radspin

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I visited him in the Vegas store maybe around 20 years ago and we got along fine. He even gave me a CD of his band. I called in advance, told him I was a friend of a famous guitar player who he knew (which is true) and that I wasn’t intending to buy anything but was in town for a trade show and wanted to see the store.

I remember the “Rants” section of his website. It was sometimes unintentionally funny. He felt that once you took the neck off a Fender guitar, it could no longer be considered original.
 

Blazer

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I read a lot of negative things about Ed Roman over the years, but I never heard that he modified instruments without the owners' permission.

I won't watch that "Ed Roman: The Fake Guitar King" video, it's just clickbait from a wannabe influencer.

That video does explain that a guy came in with a 1958 Gibson Flying V (a really rare guitar) because of the output having been cracked, and he wanted that repaired.

Roman, sawed the body in half and put another piece of Korina on there and refinished the whole thing. Ruining the value of the instrument.

But hey, as he would have said it "It's better than Gibson would have done it!"
 

dogmeat

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case in point... my '53 and '57. pic taken about 1972.....
 

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cyclopean

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I first heard of him when I was getting interested in Mosrite style guitars and came across his tirade about everything that wasn’t made by him or less than $3k being a “counterfeit” which seems like an awfully strong claim given how many different countries made made guitars that are functionally strats, teles, lps, etc etc etc. It really read as more attitude than substance. After that I found his internet presence entertained, but, like, sideshow entertaining.
 

T-bone Ted

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I did business with him over a few years....before he went to Vegas.
Bought a few guitars from him. Gibsons and Hamers. They were top
shelf stuff.
He was always pleasant and always gave me a fair price.

I never owned any of his "custom" guitars but did see/play a few
and must say the fit and finish was as good or better than anything
else out there.

I remember a few times we would talk for perhaps 30 or 40 minutes and
I usually got a kick out of his stories. He was a remarkable character.

I do remember the HC rants. Some were just this side of obscene !

I get the "butchering a guitar" thing. It's an opinion.
Some of Ed's retops were spectacular. The fit and finish
was the same.


In the 70's everyone "modded" their guitars. How many of those
were butchered ? Holes drilled all over, switches, those stupid whammy
bar things......if I had a really nice guitar that was in disrepair and it could
be retopped with the quality of Ed's work I would not hesitate.

I will add that I would never pass it off as original. I'm the type guy that would
have/keep and pass on all the paperwork that went with it.

I have read all the crap about Ed. I get it. I'm merely adding that I never
had a problem with him. I will also say that I knew what Ed was before
the first time I ever spoke with him. So I knew what to expect.

Did I agree with him on everything ? NO
Did I like everything he did ? NO
Did I like all of his builds ? A big NO
He built some gaud awful ugly crap. But they were well
built and finished.

I always got a kick out of chatting with him. He could be
quite funny and his stories were hilarious !

Take it for what it's worth and.......play on !
I was in Vegas many years ago and made an appointment to visit his shop. I had a very successful week at the casino's and bought a Baker B1 while there. Ed's policy at the time was that if you used a credit card then you would have to pay the extra percentage that merchants pay to utilize the credit...I opted to pay cash. Ed agreed to add an ebony fretboard & change the pickups and shop it to me. I got the guitar 6 days after returning from the trip. It was finished beautifully and also was setup perfectly! Still have the guitar to this day and love it.

The shop was nothing more than a couple of warehouses and practically all the guitars were in cases. If you wanted to see them they would get specific guitars pulled and you could check them out. I had a chance to speak to him and he was quite friendly and did in fact tell me a few stories while I was there. This was back in 2007 or 2008.
 

Dave W

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That video does explain that a guy came in with a 1958 Gibson Flying V (a really rare guitar) because of the output having been cracked, and he wanted that repaired.

Roman, sawed the body in half and put another piece of Korina on there and refinished the whole thing. Ruining the value of the instrument.

But hey, as he would have said it "It's better than Gibson would have done it!"
Allegedly, according to a YouTuber from Ireland who makes a video about Ed Roman a decade after his death.

It could be true, I don't know, but I wouldn't take this guy's word for it. There were dozens of discussions on dozens of forums about Ed Roman back in the day, yet I've never heard that one.
 

Jupiter

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When they say "that guy was a real character" I generally take that to mean "somewhere over half of the people he interacted with thought he was an A-****."
 

tomasz

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Remember the saying "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas"? Those guitars should never have been outside city limits ;)
 

naveed211

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I remember some wild times in the early Harmony Central forum, circa the late 90's, when there were both fans and detractors, probably more detractors.
Ah yes, I recall those days as well. That was right around the time I was really getting into guitar. I remember seeing PRS in Guitar World and just thinking they looked amazing. So, of course when I saw the Ed Roman Quicksilver guitars, I assumed they’d be amazing too.

Guess I can’t say they weren’t, never tried one, though I heard some things. It did make me look more into him. What a circus.
 

brenn

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I looked at the guy's web site a little, years ago, and it always turned my off. Ed's name connected with something just made me ignore it.
 

maxvintage

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If I'm going to buy a guitar i want a guy who makes vehement dogmatic assertions about what's best, because I'm incapable of judging for myself and have to be told. Also I want that guy to issues vehement denunciations of all the competition. And he should have an inflexible idea of what "best" means an assert it constantly, while also claiming he's the sole source of what's best. I want him to be a ham-handed former motorcyle mechanic, because guitars and motorcycles are so similar and share so much in construction and in use. If he misrepresents what he has? All the better.

yeah, that's the guy I want to buy a guitar from: too bad he's dead.
 

That Cal Webway

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Ok. Much more anecdotal info!!

Here's the long thread starting on April 20th, 2022 on Ed Roman at The Gear Page:


.
 
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JohnnyThul

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No dog in this fight, but, like others, I visited his site quite regularly when I was a kid. I still think about a few inlay designs he had on his guitars that really amazed me back then. It was also pretty entertaining as he seemed to have quite an opinion about a lot of things, I never thought of back then.
So, I thank him, for the entertainment factor and the nice photos of cool inlays and nice wood!

Besides, one of my personal heroes in guitar building was and is Paul Bigsby. Who happened to be a motorcycle mechanic as well (Crocker). I personally cannot see, how that would make you more or less qualified in guitar building related context. I'd say, if someone has been doing a lot of different things in his life that could very well also mean, that this person is curious and likes to tinker around and is very open minded. Those are people, that can change a whole industry or come up with fantastic inventions, because they think outside the box, that a dedicated specialist of only a single matter is not able to come up with, as you are so stuck in your specialist view. Or who at least come up with something, that could be considered as being "weird" by the experts. But then at least it is entertaining and maybe gets something going in a direction, nobody before thought about.
Those people keep life interesting in my opinion. Some of them are artists.
 

wulfenganck

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I read a lot of negative things about Ed Roman over the years, but I never heard that he modified instruments without the owners' permission.

I won't watch that "Ed Roman: The Fake Guitar King" video, it's just clickbait from a wannabe influencer.

Ahem, no. It isn't. It's pretty well researched and shows quite a lot of evidence. I actually find it strange to declare not watching a video and then state it's clickbait from a wannabe influencer. How so, if you didn't know the guy and didn't watch the video?
That's kind of weird.
 




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