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Phil's Vintage Guitars/Vintage & Modern Guitars - Buying, selling and collecting fine vintage Guitars






Phil's Vintage Guitars/Vintage & Modern Guitars - Buying, selling and collecting fine vintage Guitars


Vintage and Modern Guitars


Here Digger talks to Phil at  Vintage and Modern Guitars and Phil's Vintage Guitars about his love of vintage guitars and this business founded on the demand for authentic and original classic guitars.





Digger: Hello Phil.

Phil: Hello Digger.

Digger: Can you please tell us about your background and that of the business?

Phil: My background  - my sisterís a classical musician and she went down to Wells Cathedral School and I followed her. I soon gave up (laughs) when I discovered the guitar and The Beatles, I guess. I was always a bit behind and looking backwards rather than looking forward.

Digger: Yes, you sound a bit young to remember The Beatles first time around.

Phil: Definitely. I suppose I went down in about í76.

Digger: I can think of a couple of musicians who are famous for having a violin bowing technique on a guitar. Jimmy Page and Eddie Phillips from The Creation, who was said to have invented it.

Phil: Oh right.

Digger: Biff Bang Pow and Making Time and so on.

Phil: Thatís where the similarity ends really and I made the jump, much to everybodyís disgust. Iíve always looked backwards ten years so. In the eighties I was looking at bands like Little Feet and that kind of stuff.

Digger: Not Punk?

Phil: I liked The Stranglers but I didnít really get into it at the time and appreciated it more later. More now than I did then Ė I can see it all now.

Digger: It was a breath of fresh air.

Phil: Yes, genius when you look at it now.

Digger: Where did Philís Vintage Guitars come from?

Phil: Just like a lot of people I started by collecting. I have done for years. I was working in London, doing hotel repairs and refurbishments.

Digger: A proper job?!

Phil: A proper job, employing people and the rest of it. And spare bits of cash I had, I put into old and vintage guitars. As you naturally do, I was selling and buying and it just snowballed from there really.

Digger: Now itís obviously a full-time thing?

Phil: Now itís just gone bananas really. Since the recession hit ands the building industry was hit, yet again. I always said that if there was another one I was going to try and get out. I havenít got out because Iím running two companies now but it just got to the point where I needed to supplement our income. So I decided to give it a whirl. And so we opened our store last December. Although a lot of people will know ĎPhilís Vintageí we operate now under Vintage and Modern Guitars.

Digger:  I see.

Phil: Weíve got a shop in Thame, Oxfordshire and itís doing very well.

Digger: Do you get a lot of passing trade with people visiting the physical store as well?

Phil: Itís starting to pick up now. Weíre advertising heavily.

Digger: Youíve got quite a few well-off people around there and a lot of musicians live in that neck of the woods.

Phil:  Itís a good area. Robin Gibb lives in the village and weíve had a few faces in.

Digger: Oh, not literally Faces! (Both laugh) Kenney Jones is running something to do with polo down there and he also does events Ė I know because someone I know is having a retro-themed wedding at his venue.

Phil: Joe Brownís round the corner Ė it would be great if he turned up. Iíve had his next door neighbour in. Itís quite exciting and people come from all around London. I play finger-style Ė like Chet Atkins and jerry Reed. I love big arch top guitars and thereís not many doing them so we get some serious players come round. We jam in the store and itís really cool.

Digger: You should jam with Spikeís All Stars. They have gigs where musicians just turn up, famous and not so famous, and they jam and play to audience. The best thing was that when I saw them last December they did about thirty guitar intros back-to-back, iconic intros from the best of rock music from the last few decades. It was great to hear them played, one after the other, and also to be able to name them. Each one brings back so many memories. I think they have released a recording of that too...  What gives you the most pleasure from the business?

Phil: Funnily enough, performing is one of the least desirable things. I love playing and I love guitars and from quite a few sources Iíve heard that the last thing you want to do is try and be a rock star. (Laughs) It just doesnít work and there are too many failed guitarists trying to run guitar shops. Itís a business at the end of the day and you have to make money.

Digger: So youíve taken that on board?

Phil: I have. You have to.





Digger: Why is there such interest in authentic vintage musical instruments? Youngsters seem to be getting into this in a big way tooÖ

Phil: I heard this recently Ė I was trying to get a guitar for a guy in America and (laughs) he said in that American way ďMoney I can always get, but thereís a limit of fine vintage guitars.Ē Thatís the truth.

Digger: Are people investing in these?

Phil: Oh yes.

Digger: From how far are these people coming?

Phil: Anywhere. All over. Worldwide.

Digger: I heard that eastern Europe was also getting to be a big market.

Phil: Yes, Iíve got a businessman at the moment from there whoís interested in one of my guitars.

Digger: What are the biggest and best sellers?

Phil: Most of my top stuff goes abroad. Itís a really weird market at the moment and some things are cheaper here than they are in the States. You have to be very careful.

Digger: One of my jukebox clients was saying that he gets lots of enquiries from America but it then proves too expensive to ship there. Maybe thatís not such an issue for guitars to ship back there?

Phil: I have shipped back to America. It is bizarre to sell back to them. Itís like anything Ė you get what anybody is willing to pay for it at that time. Whatever youíre interested in then if youíre willing to pay for it.

Digger: And there are so many influences on values. The credit crunch - and who could have seen the Japanese disasters coming or the flare-ups in the middle-east? Theyíll have a massive impact.

Phil: Yes, massive. After the earthquake it was like tumbleweed town for two weeks. It really was.

Digger: Youíve got a good close relationship with the big names in guitars?

Phil: Itís kick-started in the last few months, because you become more credible when you have a bricks and mortar store. Thereís a lot of people doing it on The Internet and you can be quite successful but you canít do it properly. You do need an accountable front.

Digger: that's interesting. Some people are telling me theyíre going away from a shop front because of all the overheads and everything.

Phil: There is that but they probably had a store to start with so theyíve become established and have got their base, havenít they? Even so I think people do prefer it.

Digger: Weíre getting a bit lazy with shopping on The Internet but when it comes to a big decision like that you need to be able to see, hear, touch and even smell the guitar.

Phil: Weíll take it down to wherever people want us to go. Iíve taken them down to the south of France Ė itís cheaper than posting it basically. Once Iíve insured it you might as well get a day flight down there, open it with the client and everybodyís happy.

Digger: Have you done any guitars for Eric Stewart? Heís big into collecting guitars.
Phil: Not yet.

Digger: I like that confidence Ė not yet!

Phil: (Laughs) Iíve got stock turning over every day. A nice 1960 Strat turned up last week and itís lovely.

Digger: Have you got the issue where some owners have done their own DIY and modifications on their guitars rendering them a fraction of the potential value?

Phil: Yes. Thatís the case with this sixties Strat. Itís a long time for a guitar and theyíve only become desirable since the early eighties. Before that they were just old guitars that people wanted to replace with a new one. So it snowballed from there.

Digger: Itís a shame we couldnít have bought a lot of them up back then - and phones and jukeboxes!

Phil: A time machine would be handy. You do jukeboxes donít you?

Digger:  We have a lot on our website. A lot of dealers.

Phil: Something Iíve always wanted.

Digger: Itís nice to have a jukebox that has all the music that inspired you on it.

Phil: Iíd like one in the shop actually.

Digger: Okay Iíll sort something out for you on price if you like. Are the youngsters knowledgeable about these guitars? I guess they know more than you Ė often they have really done their research?

Phil: The internet is a double edged sword. People can become quite easily mis-informed which can be a nightmare for dealers. A bit like self-health diagnosis on The Internet and demanding pills from your GP! It's like - hang on a minute!

Digger: But sometimes the information is copied from unreliable sources and you see it plastered all over The Net.

Phil: Yes. Exactly. Another thing looking at instruments- when looking at high-end guitars, you need to know what youíre looking at. You can look at endless photographs or read endless piffle on The Internet but I think the only way you really get used to it is by handling them. And seeing many examples before you actually know what youíve got in your hands. The real deal.

Digger: Thatís what youíve got. Youíve got that expertise.

Phil: Iím not saying I can know everything, Iím careful with what I take on. But I'm starting to get there. I do have a strong interest in 50's Gretsch guitars in particular. 

Digger: Youíre well on your way to your 10,000 hours which then makes you an expert.

Phil: Yes. There are so many different guitars Ė like this L5 that weíve got is one of only thirty- one in the world and Iím probably only ever going to see one from that year. Thatís what Iím getting at Ė youíre more likely to see a lot of 1960's Strats, after all, there's more now than in 1960! It gets harder at some ends of the business.

Digger: Did you see the programme about Les Paul? What a genius.

Phil: Yes. He was a clever chap.

Digger: Were  you into Joe Meekís stuff?

Phil: He was a bit of a kiddie, wasnít he?

Digger: Scary by all accounts and lots of hissy fits. Bobby Graham, his session  drummer, was the drummer for Joe Brown, who you mentioned earlier on. When they were having hits with The Bruvvers with songs like A Picture of You. Bobby was moonlighting for another band one time and Joe was in the audience (Phil laughs) and went ballistic when he saw him playing for another band. He stood up and shouted at him from the audience.
Phil: Thatís what I like about the shop, actually. You get a lot of people who were there in the day and the stories that they tell. In the end you have to pull away because thereís people in the shop but itís great to hear what they come out with. It must have been such an exciting time in the sixties.

Digger: Denmark Street, The Blue Angel, The Ace Cafť, The 100 Club, The Bag Ďo nails Ė I was just a kid and only three when the sixties started so I was born ten years too late really.

Phil: I was born in í63 and my first music was synthesisers and the eighties. I had a band.

Digger: Have you got any band photos for us?

Phil: I had a lovely b and w from the newspaper.

Digger: I want to see the funny hair. (Laughs) What about the future Phil?

Phil: The business has morphed into Vintage and Modern... which is exactly that.  I thought to survive in this very competitive market place is to do the modern equivalent of the vintage examples. I love Gretsch guitars, and the modern Gretsch guitar is probably one of the best made production guitars in the world right now. Certainly miles better than back in the day! I do Eastwood guitars - they cover all the old Supros, Airlines and MosritesÖall the quirky stuff. We of course have the USA Fender dealership plus lots of other independent brands like Reverend guitars which are just amazing value. We also do Cornell amplifiers... again amazing. I like the independents.

Digger: So youíre covering both options?

Phil: Yes, because Phiís Vintage is quite high up in Google and I donít want to lose that so Iíve just linked them together really. And because we have the shop it doesnít matter really. And the two are one and the same.

Digger: So more of the same, keeping up with fashions and technology and duck and dive when we have major things happening in the world?

Phil: Yes, and trying to make a living really.

Digger: Thanks Phil for letting us know more about Vintage guitars and your business.

Phil: Thanks Digger.



Phil's Vintage Guitars has now found a home In Thame Oxfordshire. We have a Fender dealership and have tried to provide a new stock catalogue with a ďvintageĒ flavour. We also have a Reverend guitar dealership and have just secured a James Trussart dealership which we are really excited about! Other suspects from Eastwood, Airline, Danelectro, Indie, Burny, Guild, Simon and Patrick, Crafter and many others. We also stock Cornell amplifiers along with Fender, Hiwatt and Orange

Tel: 01844 261447






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