Help me identify this guitar!
October 25, 2020 5:20 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for information on the guitar Stephen Stills is playing here, here, and here.

It's definitely a custom job, but I'm guessing it's from an identifiable luthier- the unique headstock is the best clue. The body and hardware looks like a cross between Travis Bean and Alembic. Thanks for your help!
posted by stinkfoot to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Doug Irwin?
posted by platinum at 10:00 PM on October 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Wow, this is a challenge. The headstock and tailpiece eliminate both alembic and travis bean. You're right that it has the tb skinny waist - and that's a ringer for an alembic fingerboard. I cropped down and reverse image searched just the tailpiece, then just the headstock. Noise. Looking forward to more answers!
posted by j_curiouser at 10:55 PM on October 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

I asked two friends who would know if any of my friends would. One collects guitars including one of Jerry Garcia's. I know that before buying the Garcia guitar (not Wolf or Tiger but one of his acoustic guitars), he had Steve Parsih authenticate it. Steve was Jerry's guitar tech/personal roadie/manager of the JGB/great friend. I have met Steve briefly. He KNOWS guitars and various luthiers and he is very approachable. I would consider sending him a Tweet or a FaceBook message. If it is a reasonably well known luthier in the business, he will know who it is.

I think Stills plays a Gresch and I know he has played a Strat. More specifically, I cannot be, but as soon as I hear back from my friends, I will post here if they know.
posted by AugustWest at 10:58 PM on October 25, 2020 [4 favorites]

If I had to guess, I'd go with Platinum's guess - a lot of it looks like an Irwin. Headstock is weird, though.
posted by MrKellyBlah at 7:11 AM on October 26, 2020

It's definitely a custom job, but I'm guessing it's from an identifiable luthier- the unique headstock is the best clue.

Maybe? From what I've seen luthiers aren't always wedded to an identifiable headstock, especially for custom jobs.

I feel like you've got a better shot at an answer if you post this on a more music gear oriented forum, like or
posted by soundguy99 at 7:21 AM on October 26, 2020

Response by poster: I found a clue digging around through different headstock designs- Alembic occasionally used what is referred to as the "knobby pegheads" (example here).

I took to the Alembic forums and the clergy there have informed me it probably wasn't an Alembic: "While it is a 'knobby' headstock, it is different from the usual Alembic knobby. The logo isn’t Alembic. The pickups aren’t Alembic, and Alembic rarely did bound fingerboards. Looks like someones else’s custom to me."

Good idea on asking Parish!
posted by stinkfoot at 9:33 AM on October 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

I got a negative response from the friends. One thought I/you should focus on what he called a bird head or parrot (?) on the headstock.

I will keep noodling around looking.
posted by AugustWest at 6:34 PM on October 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Since I know not that much about guitars, I leave this interview with Stills here where he talks about what seems like all the guitars he has had and has. One is a firebird.
posted by AugustWest at 9:59 PM on October 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We're narrowing in on an answer! Some luthiers that have gotten thrown out:

Gary Cooper / Oasis
Randolph Scott
Michael Dolan
Doug Irwin
Allan Thompson
Rick Turner

One of my friends sent Rick an email and got this response:

"No, I did not build that one, but it sure looks like one an ex-employee at Alembic would have made.

I'm going to guess that it was built either by Frank Fuller or Alan Thompson.

Perhaps Larry Robinson would know. I'll Cc him on this. Larry, did the photos come through?


Rick Turner"

posted by stinkfoot at 8:45 AM on October 27, 2020

Best answer: OK, I think we have an answer, with some bonus juicy gossip. This might be as close as we get without talking to Stills himself:

"Larry Robinson thinks that guitar was made by Alan Thompson, a luthier who worked for Alembic and then Semie Mosely of Mosrite...and is famous in retrospect for having ripped off both companies for quite a few valuable parts...

Nobody knows if Thompson is active or even alive these days.

Best Regards,

Rick Turner"

posted by stinkfoot at 10:25 AM on October 27, 2020 [3 favorites]

that's like the bizarre lorenzo german story from klein guitars. dude was working for klein and took over the electric brand when klein himself went acoustic only. he took a bunch of custom orders - and a bunch of money and *poof* skipped town to somewhere. i know a former Missing Person that got burned.
posted by j_curiouser at 7:47 PM on October 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

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