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

wulfenganck

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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.
Well, in fact, the guy at one point says, that he heard that Roman's guitars played well.
But to butcher off the body and sell the resulting guitar as a "repair-job" and as a Gibson/Hamer/B.C.Rich is just plain fraud. That has nothing to do with Guitar community being "very backward" people.
 

JohnnyThul

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Well, in fact, the guy at one point says, that he heard that Roman's guitars played well.
But to butcher off the body and sell the resulting guitar as a "repair-job" and as a Gibson/Hamer/B.C.Rich is just plain fraud. That has nothing to do with Guitar community being "very backward" people.
Hello wulfenganck,


Sorry, if I offended you! But I did nowhere say that the guitar community are "very backward" people, or am I missing something?

I also replied to this thread and what is written here, not to the video (which I haven't even watched).

If we are talking about what you describe as "to butcher off the body and sell the resulting guitar as a "repair-job" and as a Gibson/Hamer/B.C.Rich is just plain fraud", I never claimed, that I see this different, if this were the case as described by you, now, did I? I didn't even mention the case anywhere in my response, it was just a general one regarding Ed Roman and to the claim made before in regards to motorcycle repairmen who turn into building guitars.

Best regards

Jonas
 

nickmsmith

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I remember reading his page back in the day. Really shed some light on how leery to be of “vintage guitars.” People have paid big money accidentally, for forgeries. And that’s sad.

I bet he’d be thrilled to still have people talking about him, 11 years after his death.
 

bottlenecker

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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.

Paul Bigsby was a lot more than a mechanic, though. He was a patternmaker and machinist. He helped Al Crocker achieve a truly amazing underdog feat I don't have time to even describe.
Then Bigsby invented the modern pedal steel guitar, and then he created guitars that I don't think guitarists today understand the magnitude or greatness of.
Bigsby was an unsung DaVinci.

Ed Roman was certainly not, to say the least.

But if your point is that motorcycle experience goes hand in hand with guitar greatness, then YES, absolutely, I agree.
Motorcycles lead to greatness.
 
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Dave W

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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.
I made the mistake of watching a couple of his other videos, that's how. I won't make that mistake again.

What's kind of weird is making a video about the business practices of a man who died in 2011 and was already out of the business by then.
 

JohnnyThul

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Paul Bigsby was a lot more than a mechanic, though. He was a patternmaker and machinist. He helped Al Crocker achieve a truly amazing underdog feat I don't have time to even describe.
Then Bigsby invented the modern pedal steel guitar, and then he created guitars that I don't think guitarists today understand the magnitude or greatness of.
Bigsby was an unsung DaVinci.

Ed Roman was certainly not, to say the least.

But if you're point is that motorcycle experience goes hand in hand with guitar greatness, then YES, absolutely, I agree.
Motorcycles lead to greatness.

Paul Bigsby is in my book an unsung hero as well :)

I tried to state in my initial reply, that I did not know Ed Roman, nor a lot about his guitars/work and I was just generally referring to the upbrought questioning, if a motorcycle repairman could/should build guitars.

But I am also not knowledgeable enough to agree if Motorcycles lead to greatness in general :)

I did not want to compare Bigsby's guitar building to that of Ed Roman (which I can't and didn't). And I did not want to make a statement regarding the content of the video (which I haven't seen).
 

JDB2

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What's kind of weird is making a video about the business practices of a man who died in 2011 and was already out of the business by then.
I think his point was to get the word out that thousands of these Roman hybridized and faked guitars may be out in the vintage guitar market. And to get clicks too, but so what? That’s how the business works.
 

Dave W

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I think his point was to get the word out that thousands of these Roman hybridized and faked guitars may be out in the vintage guitar market. And to get clicks too, but so what? That’s how the business works.
That's how grifting works. Granted, it's not as bad as the ridiculous "reaction" video channels out there, but IMHO it's not a respectable was to make money, if he's making any. You're entitled to your opinion, I'm entitled to mine.

Back in the day, just about everyone regarded Ed Roman's claims as false. There were never thousands out there, maybe a few dozen, and not very convincing ones at that.

Now this guy comes along 11 years later to warn everybody of a virtually non-existent threat. Either he's ignorant of Ed's exaggerated rants or he knows the truth and is just concern trolling for clicks. Either way, it's not a good look.

YMMV, of course.
 

wulfenganck

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Hello wulfenganck,


Sorry, if I offended you! But I did nowhere say that the guitar community are "very backward" people, or am I missing something?

I also replied to this thread and what is written here, not to the video (which I haven't even watched).

If we are talking about what you describe as "to butcher off the body and sell the resulting guitar as a "repair-job" and as a Gibson/Hamer/B.C.Rich is just plain fraud", I never claimed, that I see this different, if this were the case as described by you, now, did I? I didn't even mention the case anywhere in my response, it was just a general one regarding Ed Roman and to the claim made before in regards to motorcycle repairmen who turn into building guitars.

Best regards

Jonas
I think we have a misunderstanding here, the "backward people" was a quote from Roman himself in one of his rants.
My statement about cutting off the neck of a Les Paul (or Hamer or PRS), glue it to a different body and then sell it as a repair-job, was also related to what ROman did. Which is more or less the core pont of the video by KDH.
I wasn't suggesting you condone that. Sorry if it came across like that.
Of course, someone from a different profession can still build great guitars.
But again, the main point of the KDH video was about Romans rather sketchy "work" on Gibsons, Hamers, PRS' etc. and his attitude of selling those made-over guitars.
I don't think this has something to do with Roman being a luthier, a motorcycle-repairman or an accountant, but more with work ethics considering a "repair", a "restauration", a "custom-job" or a complete "makeover" and the way you categorize and sell those different jobs.
 

ZackyDog

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Like I said above, I met him in person a few times as I grew up (for the most part) in Connecticut. This was sad (2011):


And just a few years later (2015), his only child/daughter Lindsay Starr Roman was murdered. :(


I recall Ed talking about her at his store in Danbury in 1989. At that time, she was a infant.

 

bgmacaw

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That's how grifting works. Granted, it's not as bad as the ridiculous "reaction" video channels out there, but IMHO it's not a respectable was to make money, if he's making any.

It's showbiz. But, today, just about anyone can participate in it.
 

Twang-ineer

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So, it is not in my nature to play Devil's advocate, and I am not doing that here..... But yeah, the guy advocated fraud, I knew that at the time. I played the vintage guitar market as a hobby in the 90's. I had an advantage coming from a family of instrument makers. So I understood how easy fakery is, fraud has always existed and Caveat Emptor. How is what he was doing any different (functionally) from any one on this forum who has built a partscater, or put a cheap off brand body onto a Fender neck.... nothing except for resources and intent. When you sell a partscatser you can not ensure that the next person who sells it will not misrepresent your creative choices? The burden of responsibility lies 100% on the buyer. We are not talking about counterfeiting currency, we are talking about throwing bling onto a guitar. Making it a "fake" ... no different than the "442" convertible that I used to drive to car shows that was a lowly Cutlass with some logos with double sided tape. This is a hobby, that hobby takes many forms. Functionally what Ed and his team did was 100% legit.
I had a Lambo knock off that was registered as a VW bug, because it had floorpans and a vin from a Beetle. The fact that they obviously (in some cases) intended their work to be used to defraud future buyers, was crappy.... but what they did was IMHO, very cool, high level craftsmanship. Again, not forging currency, but embellishing an existing factory made product.
 

vjf1968

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I made the mistake of watching a couple of his other videos, that's how. I won't make that mistake again.

What's kind of weird is making a video about the business practices of a man who died in 2011 and was already out of the business by then.
Well everybody on YouTube is an influencer to some degree, and content needs to be generated. A lot of people may be too young or live outside the the USA and never heard of Ed Roman. I actually find his videos entertaining
 

BlueTele

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ed-roman-john-entwistle-buzard-1.jpg

Well, I found out about Ed Roman in the mid-nineties around my high school graduation when I saw pictures of his store in Guitar Player magazine.
grpbcrec.jpg

Which to my 18-year-old mind was as good as it gets. Because in my native province of Limburg, the Netherlands, we simply don't have stores that are THAT huge.

It took however seven or so years with the coming of broadband internet that I would be able to go and explore what was out there, that I came across his site. And once again was blown away by how vast his inventory was.

But by that time I also started working as a professional guitar repairman myself, and as such learned about how you shouldn't replace parts on instruments without the owner's consent. It's a bit like that anecdote of Ritchie Blackmore, how he had his main strat re-fretted and the guy who did so, planed the fingerboard because he mistook the scallops as extreme damage to the neck.

Also, around that same time, programs such as "Pimp my ride" and "American Chopper" began to air and with me being the Technical enthusiast, I watched those religiously. As such, I learned about how Harley engines would be used in other bike builds but keeping the Harley brand name and ditto serial numbers intact.

Then around the year of 2009 I started to read about Ed Roman 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!"

And me going, “Hang on a minute, you CANT do that?” because guitars are to their owners, as lovers. Heck that's also why so many players gave their guitars names.

And then I learned about Ed Roman's past as a Motorcycle repairman. Very much like those Teutel guys in “American Chopper” which also explains his attitude towards guitar modifications, he simply didn't understand the emotional bond between an instrument and its player.

(Warning in advance, this clip contains footage that makes Pete Townshend look like a choir boy.)

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."

Having said all of that, I still want to go to that store of his, because as it still stands, we simply do not have guitar stores that vast where I live.

Has anybody ever visited that store?

Yes...years ago I actually lived in Las Vegas for a short two-year period. I went to the store "once." There is a certain feeling you get when you walk into the "wrong place". It's in the air...you feel your skin crawl. You grab a familiar guitar and play it, and say to yourself "what the heck...there is something WAY wrong with this." Right at that moment some lizard salesman walks up to you and says "isn't that the best playing guitar you have ever held in your hands?" The only thing that guy was missing was the plaid jacket and Elvis sunglasses (since it is in Vegas)...total slime of a guy. I literally said: "there is something not right about this guitar...it is not really a (name brand). I went to pickup a Baker guitar - an iteration of Genie's original Baker brand right after his years with Fender. It looked like a Baker, but there was something wrong with that guitar too. I promptly left, and never returned. Thank goodness, at that time, a guy from Ohio was just moving into Las Vegas to start up Cowtown Guitars. They were heavily "vintage" oriented...right up my alley. They were the only store I went to other than one out in Henderson (a.k.a Spring Valley), and one off Maryland Parkway that had another location down toward the airport. They must have gone out of business...no longer on the web.
 

Dave W

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Yes...years ago I actually lived in Las Vegas for a short two-year period. I went to the store "once." There is a certain feeling you get when you walk into the "wrong place". It's in the air...you feel your skin crawl. You grab a familiar guitar and play it, and say to yourself "what the heck...there is something WAY wrong with this." Right at that moment some lizard salesman walks up to you and says "isn't that the best playing guitar you have ever held in your hands?" The only thing that guy was missing was the plaid jacket and Elvis sunglasses (since it is in Vegas)...total slime of a guy. I literally said: "there is something not right about this guitar...it is not really a (name brand). I went to pickup a Baker guitar - an iteration of Genie's original Baker brand right after his years with Fender. It looked like a Baker, but there was something wrong with that guitar too. I promptly left, and never returned. Thank goodness, at that time, a guy from Ohio was just moving into Las Vegas to start up Cowtown Guitars. They were heavily "vintage" oriented...right up my alley. They were the only store I went to other than one out in Henderson (a.k.a Spring Valley), and one off Maryland Parkway that had another location down toward the airport. They must have gone out of business...no longer on the web.

Cowtown Guitars closed in 2019. The original owner sold out, the second owner eventually ended up with terrible reviews in the last few years of the business.
 

Texicaster

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Wow!

I never heard of this guy! I worked at a better than average guitar shop in the San Diego area and was introduced to a lot of the guitar world, got to meet George Fullerton and a few celebrity players would swing by so not too much of an outsider....

But this guy never showed up on the radar! The owner of the shop I worked at could be obtuse at best till you got to know him so I imagine if they ever met there were some fireworks!

Funny how I missed this though....
 




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