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Acquiring Barney Kessel’s Very Special Guitar

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In this video, jazz guitarist Bruce Forman talks about how he ending up with the special guitar Barney Kessel played throughout his career.

Bob Bakert, editor of Jazz Guitar Today: In the late 60s while I was cultivating my addiction to all things guitar the best thing happened.  Guitar Player Magazine was hatched and I read every word about my heroes in of every issue.  I was playing folk, rock, folk-rock, R&B and loved all of it.  I didn’t have a clue what jazz was or for that matter what jazz guitar was.  Then out of desperation I would read about the jazz players, in whom I had no interest.  Out of that, fast forward, I got hooked. I bought jazz records, books and took the a dive into jazz guitar.  My favorite of all of them was Barney Kessel.  I could relate to his playing. He bent notes, played pentatonics, ripped off flurries of notes like a rock god and I decided he was my “jazz” guy…

Barney Kessel

I was fortunate enough to see him twice in a small club in Atlanta and actually speak with him which was extremely cool and inspiring. Barney is known for being the first call session guy and the amount and the importance of his recorded contribution has been written about and written about. He played almost everything on one guitar a 1946/47 modified ES350 Gibson. The biggest modification was the 1939 Charlie Christian pickup. When I learned that one of our modern virtuosos, Bruce Forman, who actually toured with Barney, acquired the guitar and instead of putting it away in a closet made it his #1 and recorded a new record using only it, I was blown away.

Check out in the video above Bruce’s story of how he acquired the historically significant Barney Kessel Gibson and what I means to him to be playing it every day.

And for the full Bruce Forman interview.

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