Shop Talk - October 2016
Written by Eric Feldmam
It's rare to find a shop worthy of the buzz. Walt Grace Vintage is that shop. A relative newcomer, located in the amazingly cool Wynwood Arts District of Miami, Walt Grace displays classic drool-worthy guitars alongside top-of-the-line collectible cars. If you ever wanted to play a Les Paul while in the driver's seat of a Lamborghini , this is the place for you!
"Coolest brick-and-motar guitar stores"
Instruments currently in stock
Bill Goldstein (owner) On the vintage side, at any given time, we have between 100-150 guitars and basses in the gallery. Additionally, we have a large selection of vintage tube amplifiers from the Forties, Fifties and Sixties
Coolest instrument currently in the shop
We have a near-flawless 1957 three-pickup Black Beauty (Les Paul Custom) that is as close to original as we've seen. We also have a 1964 Sunburst Stratocaster that is a favorite of ours and everyone else who plays it. Nothing unusual or especially unique about this one, other than it being one of the best playing and sounding Strats we've ever had.
Favorite instrument you ever sold
Probably an extremely well-loved/worn late-1956 Les Paul Jr. that we lovingly referred to as "The '56." In all honesty, I secretly hoped
we'd never sell it, and even placed it on the highest spot of our main wall-a spot where even I (being the tallest) could only reach standing on the top rung of our tallest ladder-if for nothing else, just to make sure that I'd have a chance to screen any new potential owner to assure their worthiness.
Highest price paid for a guitar in the shop
We've sold an incredible number of vintage pieces, ranging from lower priced Fifties and Sixties Harmony, Airline and Danelectros to more expensive Fifties and Sixties Gibson and Fender guitars and amps. To date, our sweet-spot seems to be in the $8,000-20,000 range, but is definitely creeping upward as the word gets out about us.
Most sought-after instrument by customers
Definitely vintage Gibsons and Fenders, Les Pauls, Strats and Teles. But we are seeing a rise in popularity of some of the more obscure brands such as Supro and Airline. Our customers are also big fans of vintage Valeo-made amps: Supro, Kay and Gretsch. We've also just launched our own Walt Grace Amplification line of vintage-inspired amps that are selling better than we ever could have dreamed.
Biggest pet peeve as a shop owner
Miami isn't exactly a mecca for collectors of vintage anything-and because of this, the most irritating thing that we hear multiple times a day is, "So wait, these guitars/cars are all ...used?" When we explain to them that they are "vintage/rare and highly collectible–some, even investments," they'll reply, "So, like I said, they're used.”
Favorite celebrity encounter
My personal favorite was Doug Fraser from the online series The Doug and Pat Show. I've spent countless hours watching Doug and Pat compare and discuss the most incredible, drool-worthy vintage guitars, amps and gear on their show, so when Doug came walking into Walt Grace Vintage I could hardly contain myself.
Strangest request from a customer
The one that comes instantly to mind was a customer who asked us to open the control covers of a guitar he was about to purchase so he could inspect the wires that were used. Upon seeing the vintage wax coated, original push back wire and original untouched solder joints, he asked if we could rewire the whole guitar with modern plastic coated wire and a new toggle switch. Of course we explained that the value of the guitar would be effected, as well as the sound, but he was unwavering in his request, and insisted that if he was going to buy the guitar, we would have to perform the work. Not saying if we did it or not, but let's just say, I hate myself.