Phil's Guitar
The story of a "no name" guitar that is virtually identical to Johnny's Weymann guitar

    In the fall of 2012, I received an e-mail from a guy named Phil, who'd seen the images on Johnny Depp Rocks! of Johnny playing a beautiful guitar in Paul McCartney's My Valentine video.  He wrote to tell me that he owns almost the exact same guitar.  He proceeded to tell me the story of his guitar, which might lead to some clues as to its identity.  Here's his account:

Hi info:

I saw this guitar on your site, the one Johnny Depp played on the Paul McCartney video?

macca

It blew my mind.  Turns out, I have this same “no name” guitar...  And I have likewise always wondered somewhat about it.  I have some info, though, but not the whole story.... 

Same guitar, – totally same.  Same no-binding neck, same headstock, same thin bridge, same finish, same F-hole placement, same parlor type body style.

I bought mine on a street corner in Hayward, CA in 1988 from some kid hustling it for cheap.  It was beat up and cracked and all the finish was taken off of it, no strings - and not playable.

It was a piece of wood.  Very bizarre piece of wood.  Being a guitar player I was fascinated by the odd style F-holes - and the parlor size and V-neck back told me it was very olde - for sure.

No label or painted logo’s - no name inlays, nothing.

Only so-called age-dating ID on it was a not well-fitted brass tail piece that was “patent pending 1906”, and a stamp in the end of the neck head stock “24493 No. 30”

I put strings on it but the neck was warped, so it was basically only good for slide playing.  But wow – the sound is very cool and unusual. Very!

So I loosened up the strings and put it away as a future repair project.

A year later I took it to a small, local repair-shop luthier to fix it up, after a smash and grab robbery at his shop - where I took a hit.

His shop had been broken into one night and I lost a custom Strat I had there for a fret job - given to me by an eventual record producer who got me started playing guitar in 1971; so I was super bummed.

Don’t recall the luthier’s name. (I repaired this guitar 23 years ago.)

Could not find an exact replacement Strat anywhere at any price.  It ended up as a basic insurance claim, but the stolen guitar was priceless to me. Ya know?

Luthier said he wanted to do me a favor, for the personal loss that the ins. money could not make up for.

So I brought in my No-name guitar, and he freaked out.

He told me the F-holes were in the “wrong location” structurally, but that made it sound like a steel Dobro, and nooo-one ever put the F-holes in the middle? Always the top or bottom.

He also said the only relevant date was the Brass tail piece, which was an “add on”.  He said it was not originally on the guitar and not the first tailpiece either – probably put there after someone put steel strings on it when the neck got warped - it has no truss-rod.

He said the Brass Tailpiece had some miss-matched screw-hole placements, and he would see if he could find another one that was a better fit.  I said put it on, and he kept the olde one. I should have asked for it, but I forgot.

He said he took it all apart to see how it was made, could not find any markings inside, and so he re-braced it to support the odd F-hole location, fixed all the cracks, and refinished it.  Ready to play!

So I played it that way, occasionally, til about 1999.

Then I decided I wanted to straighten the neck and put jumbo frets on it.

I had had a 1930’s Washburn refurbished at Kamimoto Strings in 1978 (then in Oakland), so I looked them up, by then and still in San Jose, CA  http://kamimotostrings.com/

They are THE repair place for all kinds of exotic and expensive acoustic stringed instruments, especially expensive violins.

I brought it in, opened the case, and the counter people went nuts!  Hollering furiously in Japanese. A couple three older repair guys came out of the back and started examining it talking a mile a minute, too!

A few minutes later, they smiled, bowed and left.  The counter guy asked me what I wanted to do, which I told him – straighten the neck, maybe get a steel rod put in, and get jumbo frets.

He said I would “destroy its value” if I did that.  I said “I don’t really care, I want to play it.”  But, I said, “OK, I bite.  What is the story of this guitar and why are you guys so excited about it?”

He said that since it had no label and no inlay they could not be 100% sure, but - they had this professional opinion – in broken English _ “body made probably in the 1860’s likely by a European violin maker. Brazilian rose wood back and sides and maple top, fishbone trim, but not original neck. Neck older too, likely before turn of the century (1899), maybe stamp indicates year made 4-24-93, No. 30 - maybe model - maybe 30th one made by guy who made neck. Maple neck similar to old Martin V-neck design popular with olde parlor guitars, rosewood fretboard, not ebony, new neck cheaper wood than olde body. Could be a prototype body but not certain.  Value, maybe up to $20K - $25K to collector of olde and odd guitars.  But best for me to just play it AS IS”

So I have been playing slide and writing songs on it from time to time since then.

Curious thing.  The Brass Tailpiece the Luthier added to mine is the same exact Brass Tailpiece on Johnny’s No-name guitar.  I would not be surprised if that Luthier made it.  Truly one of a kind....

phil no-name

 
Phil Arnold,G.M.
Thrill Entertainment Group
+1 925 443 3077
phil@thrillentertainmentgroup.com
www.thrillentertainmentgroup.com



     A few weeks later, Paul McCartney released his Live Kisses DVD.  The disc includes a Making My Valentine featurette that shows behind the scenes footage from the video shoot.  Johnny is seen pulling his guitar from its case.  He tells Paul, "That's a Weymann... that's an old Weymann."  I relayed this back to Phil, and he replied:

Hi Cathy:

Very possible that whoever made my guitar was an associate or a mentor.

Hard to tell.  But if Johnny said it was “old” it would fit the 1920’s impression.

In guitar speak old means pre-WW II.

Also, Weymann looks like a German name...

The story continues to unfold....

This is interesting, now there is a guitar maker name to go with it...

Both of the guitars are unmistakably the same body style.



     Shortly after, Phil wrote again, after he'd done some more digging:

Hi Cathy:

If you check a little further you find the following link:

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Antique-Musical-Instruments-2370/2008/8/f/weymann-trumpet.htm

Turns out the Weymann Philly patriarch opened a music store in Philly in 1864.

So, I think we may have found a link to the Weymann guitar model to an 1860’s era instrument....

Turns out further they also made trumpets...
 
Interesting stuff...

 


     It sure is!  What a great story about a rare and beautiful guitar.  Thanks Phil!



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