Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 107

conclusion that I'd wind up with the Les
Paul. But really, we all still think of it as
my grandfather's guitar, even though he
passed in '99.
What was your first gig with it?

That was to record my first album, One's
Not Half Two.

How does it compare to your other
guitars?

There is no comparison to its aged wood
and aged humbuckers. The sustain is incredible, the action is great, and the tone
is awesome. It sounds like Duane Allman's
'59 on Eat a Peach.
(LEFT) Arena with the guitar at the Gibson/
Baldwin Showroom. (BELOW) From the
family photo album: Arena's grandfather,
Joe (right), in the day with his Les Paul
and brother, Tom, with a D'Angelico.

to Heaven" on it, but by then I'd been
playing other instruments for a few years.
What's your grandpa's story?

He learned to play as a teenager. He was
drafted into the Navy toward the end of
World War II and became a band leader.
When he got out in the late '40s, he started
playing at small clubs and restaurants in
Brooklyn. He did that until the mid '70s,
when he and my grandmother moved to
Los Angeles. There, he played mostly in
Riverside County, then in the mid '80s
he got a steady gig at The Colorado Belle
Casino in Laughlin, Nevada.
His brother, Tom, was apparently
also an accomplished player...

He was an exceptional guitarist and had
a large music school in Brooklyn in the
'60s. My father says his uncle was a great
jazz technician and a student of theory.
What sort of player is your dad?

He's great. He started playing when
he was really young and studied music
through his childhood and high school.
He knows a lot about music and theory
and he taught me everything I know.
He played the '59 in high school and
college bands, and considered going to
the Berklee College of Music. But he also
loved airplanes and got his pilot license
when he was 17, then went to an aviation
college and has been an airline pilot for
35 years.
Your dad passed the guitar along to
you on the condition that you become
a professional musician. That's a 180
compared to the attitude of most

parents when their kid says, "I wanna
be a rock star!"

What factors come into play when you
consider using it for a gig or session?

My father would joke and tell me that if I
finished college and became a professional
musician, he would give me the guitar. Well,
I finished college and made songwriting
and music my profession. Dad, being a
man of his word, gave me the guitar. He
also told my younger brother that if he
finished college and became a professional
aviator, he'd buy an airplane for him! Well,
my brother's now an airline pilot and dad
is looking for a small plane for him.
Bottom line is that dad really wanted us
to finish college and have careers that made
us happy. And I think it was a foregone

Security is a big deal. The first time I
played the Gibson/Baldwin Showroom,
it was a sold-out show to see and hear the
guitar. Numerous collectors were there and
they all asked, "Is it real?" Jim Rosenberg,
president of Epiphone, was at the event and
called Gibson historian Edwin Wilson at
their Custom division to ask if the guitar
had been authenticated, which of course it
had been by Edwin himself.

March 2017

107

VINTAGE GUITAR

Is it still at the Grammy Museum?

It is, and has was recently displayed with
the Bob Dylan exhibit. It's on two-year
renewable loan.


http://youtu.be/MWIO6C4Bcn0?list=PLaynhNdfLBF6TfhgWKYEv2pA2GMX8fhF6 http://youtu.be/mFTsgobO630?list=PLaynhNdfLBF6TfhgWKYEv2pA2GMX8fhF6/ http://www.vintageguitar.com/

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 3
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 4
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Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - Contents
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Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - IBC
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