So… I hope you’ll indulge me a little because I had one of the best days of my life yesterday and I’d love to share the story…

Me with my “NG”

It started last weekend… I had a completely open Saturday – no gig, Laura, my wife, was out of town with our son in Texas, and Griffith, our youngest, was playing in the All State Band almost 300 miles away.

I wasn’t sure what to do with myself, so I decided to do a little guitar safari up to LA, Hollywood, and “the valley.” As it turned out, my buddy Dave (Amato, guitar player in REO Speedwagon currently) was in town between tours and said he would meet at Norman’s Rare Guitars in Tarzana.

Now, Norman’s is pretty famous, but I’d never been there. Dave, however, has been shopping there for about 30 years, and knows Norm well. That meant we got to see the good stuff that doesn’t live out on the showroom floor…

A Shot Of The Guitar Center Vintage Room

But before I went there, I had to stop at the Guitar Center on Sunset and check out their new “Vintage Room…”

It’s… pretty epic, I have to admit. There are gobs of Les Pauls, 335s, Strats, PRS Guitars… loads of vintage Fender Tweed, Blackface, Brownface, Marshalls, Orange, Vox… you name it, if it’s old and worth something, they’ve got it!

Admittedly, though, nothing really caught my attention, and I really wasn’t shopping, I had no intention of buying anything (which has never stopped me before…)

So from there I made the trek through Hollywood and beyond to Norman’s Rare Guitars.

I had beat Dave there by maybe 15 minutes so I just looked around…

I picked up a couple of old Les Pauls (like, 1980’s old, not super vintage) and Strats…

There was a Lonnie Mack Gibson V that was cool, with the Bigsby on it… but then, I saw something in sunburst hiding back behind some other Strats on a stand…

1969 Fender Stratocaster

It was a 1969 Sunburst Strat, all original except that the frets had been replaced. It played like a dream, and even before I plugged it in I could feel the notes just singing as they resonated.

It made me a little nervous, to be honest.

Luckily Dave showed up and gave me a chance to put the guitar down for a few minutes and talk with him and catch up… but since Dave was there, Norm decided to bring out something from “the back…”

Dave Amato playing the ’57 Goldtop

It was a 1957 Goldtop Les Paul, all original… AMAZING instrument!

After Dave played on it he handed it to me, and I can honestly say I’ve never held a guitar worth over 6 figures in my hands before… it was a little scary, I think I spent more time worrying that I would drop it than actually playing it.

From there Dave and I left, and had lunch and did some other stuff throughout the day… but I kept thinking about that Strat and how amazing it played and sounded to me…

My youngest son on stage at Disneyland

Fast forward now to yesterday… my youngest son was at Disneyland doing a concert. It’s through a great program that Disney has that brings in school bands and they get to perform, all my kids have done it.

Well, after they perform, they spend the day in the park… so Laura and I had the whole afternoon free until well into the evening…

And if you can believe it, we made our way back up to Norman’s Rare Guitars!

Walking into Norman’s Rare Guitars

While we were there, I got to talking with Norman and, lo and behold, Tim Pierce walks in! I’d never met him face to face, but we have many mutual friends…

So I introduced myself and we talked for about a half and hour, and then Norm had me sit and do a video for their YouTube channel with my new guitar 🙂

Just an amazing day… any day with a new guitar in it is a special day, but getting to spend it with my family and get to meet some great people made it priceless.

Guess it’s time to get back in the studio and make some new videos so you can see it in action!

Playing At Norman’s For The YouTube

Griff and Norman with the Strat

    43 replies to "NGD"

    • Alexander Aliganga

      Inspiring story. Really cool to see you playing for YouTube. Can’t wait to see the axe in action!


    • Chris Byrne

      I as lucky enough tp pick one up new in ’69. Its a wonderful sounding instrument. Congrats. I saw yours today on the BGUlabs live feed. Mine is a metallic blue. Its goes very well with my other prize; a ’62 pre-cbs deluxe reverb, they sound great together.

    • bill

      Something special about that year. I am that fumble fingered hack someone above speaks of but I recently was able to aquire a ’69 335! Just knowing that its probably spent thousands of hours making amazing music inspires me and my playing has actually improved in the couple of weeks I have had it. I’ll never be in your league playing wise but I share your joy at the new addition to your home. Thank God my wife didn’t ask how much it cost!

    • Denny Gasper

      Congrats Griff,
      You left out part about the actual purchase. You know where you count it out…,. 1 and a 2 and a 3 and a 4 thousand dollars, repeat over and over! Must’ve inhaled too much nitro lol! Beautiful axe, well deserved.

    • Scott R

      Awesome Griff – Congrats on the new addition.
      Norm’s had a good number of celebrities sit on that couch. I bet you’re playing raised a few eyebrows, and matched up with the best of them.

    • Greg Crain

      I thought you were gonna get the 6-figure 57 Goldtop Les Paul!!
      The Strat looks great too. Looking forward to hearing it and seeing you play it.
      You’ve got some cool friends!!

    • Glenn

      Hey Griff. Thanks for sharing a great day.
      I really enjoyed hearing about it and the photos made it perfect.
      Glenn Kimble

    • Roland Heimisch

      That’s what happens if the wife leaves you unsupervised for a hole day. Must be a guy thing.

      • Roland Heimisch

        I meant “whole” day of course… pushing buttons too fast

    • Dick Frederick

      Wow! Grif, You’ve not only got an exceptional instrument, but more importantly a very understanding wife.
      God bless you and your family, Dick…aka Fearless Freddy

    • kim

      And you said you are not a Fender Strat guy.

    • Dave

      Wow, 1969 I was in Nam listening to Joan Biaz on a 7 inch reel to reel tape whenever we were not occupied with other trivial matters!!LOL Nice guitar. Glad for you!!

    • Andrew Fox

      Congrats Griff! She’s a bute! I love getting new gear and you’r story is giving me that new gear bug!

    • Steve

      Wow what an amazing day!!! Congratulations on the new guitar!!!!

    • Steve

      Griff, so pleased that a guitar of this superb sound and playability would find its way into your hands rather than some fumble-fingered hack like myself who could never do it justice. Enjoy it and make great music with it, bro.

    • tony

      Bumping into Tim Pierce .That had to be a cool experience. Tim is one of the top ten studio guitarist. I think he is like totally wired into music. I pop onto his site once in a while . My fender strat is a 2002 new old stock made in mexico . It went for $999.00 new I paid $500.00 . Got thru E bay it was not set up well like I like it was not able to play it before or even hear it ,but it`s a great guitar. I once had a gibson les paul had it custom made for me . I had to wait for it for almost a year and a half . Cost less than a $1000.00 with a small marshall amp . Hard case to and today that same type is like so expensive it`s crazy. I borrowed a 59 les paul with a bigsby today it`s value is around $30,000 . 00 . So You gonna show it off in a lesson ?

    • Anthony Comi

      Wanna hear it bad!!!

    • Jeff

      My daddy was a Gibson
      My momma was a Fender
      That’s why they call me

      • Dean Lanford

        WOW! Brings back some old home town memories. Stillwater Band

    • Chris J CLEMANS

      Griff, I am really happy for you and just think no diapers. I am so jealus. I am thinking my mccarty should have a puppy🎸🤔 strat maybe. I should drive up to Norms never been there, the thought of it gives me chills. Its great seeing your son playing at DISNEYLAND PRETTY special. You are a great teacher you deserve the new toy wow when mama is away GRIFF will play. Can’t wait to see and hear it. By the way your DELTA BLUES Course is awesome.

    • chris slagle

      Congratulations….its a …Strat!
      Boy or girl.🤣

      You deserve it.
      Enjoy it.

      Make some new music 🎸🎶🎵🎵🎵🎵🎵🎶🎵🎵

    • Michael Alexander

      Congrats on the new guitar!

    • john strobel

      Congratulations! Glad to know your biz is doing extremely well too.

    • Roy Winters

      Looks like my Custom Shop ‘68. But yours is real.

    • alex

      Some days are just better than others|


    • B. Stewart

      Michael Lemo, who works at Norm’s and does the videos of guitar of the day, and is a very good guitar player, just did a video of that very guitar‼️
      It sounded very nice in the video. Glad it ended up in the hands of someone that not only appreciates what they have but will play it.
      Congrats on a very nice purchase!

    • Ken L

      Congrats, Griff. Will be watching for the video. I see you are playing with Angela Petrilli. I am sure you two really inspired the other.
      Looks like an amazing guitar. Thanks for sharing .

    • Roy Winters

      Which one did you buy. Did they offer financing

    • Ken

      Man don’t we wish we’d have. BOught and kept one we were young and they were cheap .

    • Sean Salins

      Awesome story Griff! Thanks so much for sharing with us and can’t wait to see / hear the new guitar. She sure looks “purty”!

    • Mike

      Nice looking Strat Griff! In fact it looks just like my 68! Also with new frets! Mike

    • Jim

      Congratulations, Griff. Sounds like it was truly a great day. Looking forward to hearing the new guitar.

    • James

      Ha ha, Guitars Man. You gotta be careful. First they get in your hands and Start looking all cute, the next thing you know it comes home with you.
      In my house, I then have to explain where it came from, how much it cost and why I think it was such a good idea in the first place.
      I have noticed there’s not always room for another hot rod but there’s always room for another guitar. That said my wife thinks 18 is too many and says dumb things like “ You can only play one at a time” so I ask her how many coffee cups has she got? Her answer was “That’s different!” My reply of course is that you can only use one cup at a time too!
      I was once told that they were researching into a vaccine to cure this affliction. Fortunately they haven’t found it yet, and if the did I would deliberately stay afflicted.
      What a great day Griff, I’m jealous.


      • JUAN LUIS

        Ja, ja, ja, ja, you are my hero!!! Coffee cups, that’s the clue.

    • Bob Eisenberg

      Well I was thinking it was going to be a puppy but, in this context, a guitar makes much more sense. :-). Use it in the best of health for many years! That’s exciting!

    • Eddie Lee

      Disney band trips… man, that brings back some memories! All four of ours went through band and had at least one trip to Disney in FL… the youngest even had a trip to NYC! This was from Central Iowa, so there were some impressive bus rides involved… anyway, nice Strat, the re-fret is an indicator that it was well taken care of over the years! Enjoy it & get it in video… soon!


      Congrats my teacher!!!!

      Enjoy the toy!!!

    • Mark Dyson

      What a great day! Your smile sings it’s own song.

    • Fred Mixon

      Wow! What a cool adventure Griff! Big smiles all around! Looking forward to seeing the new “baby” in action. Huge congrats!

    • Michael Chappell

      Your smile said everything and always a Strataday is the best day especially a 1969 version, it must have a great sound but was it a 6 figure deal? anyway looking forward to seeing you do one of the BGU lessons with it.

    • Steven McDowall

      So cool Griff — congrats on that fab guitar! We’ll expect a lot of great sounding Strat videos now!

    • Bob Barker

      The smile says it all……Happy GAS day, Griff….😎

    • Andrew Rigby

      Superb, sounds a absolutely awesome day! Look forward to seeing and of coarse hearing your new baby in a video soon😉

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