Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Guitar Hunting Adventures

Jeremy Sheppard tracks down classic vintage guitars and then he finds new homes for those guitars. He has been doing this for 18 years and has met some great people in the process.

"I began buying and selling guitars when I was 14 years old," he said. "I found that I could get much better guitars if I was willing to play used and second hand guitars."

Over the years, he has met some really interesting people. "Two years ago I met Dane, an old oilfield engineer who had lived in Breaux Bridge most of his life.  He played a beautiful old Martin D-35.  He loved playing love songs to his wife, and they had played across south Louisiana over the years.  His wife, sadly, passed away a year before we met."

"He had stopped playing and said it was too hard to play without his wife around.  I listened to his stories and thanked him for sharing them.  We talked about the joy and hope that music gives the world and he asked if I would not only buy his guitar, but keep his guitar strap.  He said that he wanted to be remembered for loving his wife and creating music to heal the world," he recounted.

"I use his guitar strap whenever I play out with my electric guitar," Jeremy added.

Jeremy came to Covington from the Shenandoah Valley, in Virginia. His office overlooked the intersection of N. Columbia Street and Gibson Street, a front row seat on many art festivals, music performances, and artwalks.

He is impressed with the guitar music scene in Covington and New Orleans. "Since I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, I found the music scene in Covington and New Orleans wonderfully fresh and inspiring.  I’ve struggled to understand the “lingo” of a jazz and blues background in music, where my musical vocabulary comes from bluegrass and olde timey tunes," he said.

He found that South Louisiana is a place of joy.  "There is a deep belief that permeates culture at large that life is a wonderful gift and it is worth celebrating with music, food and art," he noted.

When he is able to find a really nice vintage guitar, it feels good to match it up with a really appreciative owner. "The problem facing most musicians is the reality that most vintage guitars, at this point, are in the hands of vintage dealers at top dollar," he explained. "When I find great guitars that are truly of the people, I try to keep them in the hands of creatives and working musicians.

"Recently, I had a wonderful Recording King archtop guitar come into my shop that was worth around $1,500-$2,000.  I was given this guitar as a part of another deal, and I had very little in it," he said. "I decided that I wanted to find a local musician to afford it.  I ended up selling it to a friend in Baton Rouge for $500.  He was overjoyed at the prospect of owning such a great guitar and being able to play it with his friends." When he saw the excitement that receiving the guitar gave his friend, he felt really good.

"Great guitars connect people and places.  They work in the world with us to fill it with beauty and goodness," he went on to say.

Using his people skills has enabled him to make many friends along the way, whether guitar-related, in website marketing, or local church activities. Guitars and the people who own them (and play them) are some of the most incredible people he has met. While Covington has its share of talented guitarists, sometimes it's the instruments themselves that bring people together.

"Most musicians struggle to find vintage guitars that inspire them and help them create music.  I teach people how to find, buy and breathe new life into old guitars," he said. He runs a YouTube channel that chronicles his efforts to track down early and sometimes rare guitars that the owners may want to part with. 

His "Guitar Hunter "YouTube channel helps to teach people how to enjoy guitars and learn about their histories from amazing guitar owners along the way. Jeremy knows that guitars are musical instruments that not only give the owner pleasure in playing them, not only give the audience pleasure in hearing them being played, but they are, in themselves, something that are handed down from generation to generation. 

Some of his recent YouTube videos are entitled: (1) A 1968 Gibson ES-175 demonstration, (2) should you buy broken Vintage Guitars? Picking up my 1968 Gibson ES-175, (3) 1955 Martin D-18, and (4) Finding a 1967 Gibson ES-175 and a 1940's Recording King.

So, is it a good idea to buy broken guitars?  A few weeks ago he bought a ES-175 in New Orleans. "It's all original with Patent Number pickups and original's a time capsule.  Except, it had an old neck crack, heel lifting up and top sagging....I got it fixed by Tim at Tim's Guitars in Baton Rouge and it's better than ever," he said.

"Some time ago I found a 1967 Gibson ES-175 with patent number pickups and all original hardware and finish," he goes one to explain. "The problem was that it had an old neck crack repair, sunken top and separating neck heel.  I made an offer and became friends with the owner.  We became dear friends over a few weeks and he sold me his cherished guitar for $600.  When we met, he was so thankful for our friendship that he GAVE me a 1940's Recording King and asked me to find a good home for it.  This is just one story of how guitars connect people and places and make all of them better."

When he's not finding old cherished guitars, he is building websites for people with a product or service to sell, a website with an emphasis on clear, understandable, and action-provoking marketing. The technique is called "Story-Branding," and it provides a framework that personalizes the buyer-seller experience in a way not common in today's fast-paced internet merchandising.

"I know what it’s like to own a small business and struggle to connect with customers," he explains. "By using the StoryBrand concept, I’ve seen businesses better able to succeed by creating a clear, and compelling message. Business people want their customers to thrive as a result of doing business with them."

In a similar way, guitar players thrive when they get their hands on a really great guitar. He has found that guitars are appreciated not only for the music they can be used to produce, but also for their style of construction, beauty of workmanship, and individual history. Jeremy will continue to use his communication skills to tell their story and the story of their owners.