Sunday, March 9, 2008

Heritage H-120 (with sound clip)

One day I walked into work and one of my co-workers...we’ll call him “Jared”...comes over to my desk and says, “Hey, you’re really into old guitars and stuff, right? I’ve got a guitar that’s been sitting in my closet for years and I was thinking about dropping it off at a thrift store. You wanna check it out first?”
He went out to his car and came back in with a pretty rickety case and opened it up and there was this really cool Heritage H-120 that Jared says his grandfather gave him. NOT thrift store material at all. It was really dirty and fairly banged up and looked like it had seen better days for sure. I asked Jared if I could take it home and check it out.
I got it home, spent a couple of hours cleaning it, restringing it, and just giving it some general love. It was all original and the only thing that seemed weird was the Fender-style amp knob that it had for a volume knob. It has just one pickup and one knob...a truly uncomplicated guitar. I had heard the story of Heritage before, but didn’t know that much. If you don’t know the story, back in the 70s Gibson was bought and, in the infinite wisdom of the new management, the company decided to move the entire production of their instruments away from Kalamazoo, MI where they had always been made, and head down the road a couple of miles to Nashville. A large group of the employees banded together, stayed in Kalamazoo, bought the old Gibson factory and equipment, and started Heritage Guitars. Most of their guitars were (and still are) based very closely on old Gibson models, and many guitar people believe that the Heritage instruments are superior to their Gibson counterparts.
This particular model, the H-120, was their most basic model, probably aimed at students. But the quality and set-up were all pro. This thing felt GOOD. I emailed with a longtime Heritage employee and prominent figure in the Gibson/Heritage history books, Rendal Wall. He informed me that there were probably only between 200-300 of these produced, and mine was from 1985--the first year of the company.
I had to have it. I got back to work the next morning and struck a deal based on the two other H-120’s we could find info on. Jared was happy and I was happy, and hopefully the H-120 was happy. For awhile it was the only electric guitar I owned, and not being in a band at the time, I really had little need for one. Eventually, as I always end up doing, I took some photos, listed it on eBay, and seven days later I was shipping it out to a VERY happy Heritage collector. But, what a cool guitar! Amazing neck, beautiful attention to detail, great sound, and a really cool story to boot. Man, I wish I had that one back!
P.S. Check out the sound clip of this guitar my good friend Dave Quillen recorded for me when I sold it!

UPDATE JULY 18, 2012: So, it's been close to four years since I posted this story and today this exact guitar is up for sale on Ebay. I'm really tempted to buy it, but not sure I can afford it at the moment. Has a Buy It Now price of $495, which is a good price.


Anonymous said...

Great story about a cool guitar. Based on the pics, it looks like you cleaned it up quite nicely. If you haven't seen the Heritage Owners Club ( you should check it out. You never know, maybe you'll find another rare bird to rescue!

Anonymous said...

nice heritage!!!!!