Vintage Guitar Collection

Have a look at Top Shelf's vintage collection. Owned by Jeff Benske.
They're NOT FOR SALE, but hey, they're cool to look at! Click on the thumbnail to see a photo.

1967 Rickenbacker 330 thumbnailSept. 1967 Rickenbacker 330
I bought this from the original owner in 1990 for $325. He had bought the guitar brand new from Crown Music in Bay View in 1971. It had never been sold probably due to the odd color. This has the ultra-rare shaded green finish, and I've been told from a good source that no more than five guitars left the Rickenbacker factory in this color. 100% original.

March, 1968
Rickenbacker 360

Yes, another one. This one I had to pay quite a bit more for, but it was well worth it. Not as clean as my 330, but who's complaining. I found it on ebay in 2000, and got into a bidding war in the last minute and won. The second of three known to exist in this color. The third one is a 1971 double bound 360 and I believe it is in California. Any others?

1952 Fender Esquire
I always wanted a early 50's Telecaster or Esquire and was lucky (really lucky) to get this back in 1996. I bought it from the son of the second owner who bought it used in 1960. It is all original except that it had been refretted. It has a one piece Ash body, with a relatively thin neck for a early 50's Fender. It's a real bright and balanced sounding guitar. I used it in the studio several times when I needed that pure Telecaster sound. It has that Jeff Beck Heart-Full-Of-Soul thing going for it. Gotta love it.

1968 Fender Telecaster Thinline
This guitar was bought by my bandmate around 1983 from Crown Music in Bay View. The electronics were a little boogered up, but what do you expect for $300. Those were the days. I've owned it since 1986 and is now 100% original. Made within the first six months of production with a neck date of August 1968. It has an absolutely beautiful book-matched ash body.

1966 Fender Telecaster

I've had this one since 1988/89 and is my favorite Telecaster. I only paid $275 for it, and it has been routed for humbuckers ala Jeff Beck. It has had several pickup changes over the past 20 years, and I've used this guitar the most throughout my music career. In 1993 had the honor of having Les Paul sign it (before he was popular... Ha!) at a Loyal Order of Water Buffalo show (my former band.) The body says "Now It's a Les Paul" Christened by the man himself. It's a great story. Stop in and I'll tell it to you in detail. A highlight of my career.

1971 Fender Telecaster
This is my other main Telecaster that I've had for about 20 years. It is a 1971 neck on a Sherwood Green Warmoth body, and has a mish mash of late 60's and early 70's parts. This has always been the back up to my 66 and is a really good sounding guitar. The emblem is from a 60's Corvette; I thought it rounded out the guitar nicely.

Fender Sparkle Telecaster
I built this guitar four years ago and its my main guitar for the Five Card Studs. My 66' Tele was getting a bit abused, so I built this to replace it. Tony Delacugo (Delacugo Guitars, AZ.) made the chambered alder body and painted it in a faded champagne sparkle per my request. The neck is Warmoth with a matching headstock. Looks great under stage lights.

Alumicaster - Fender
Telecaster Inspired

A friend of mine helped me build this guitar, and it has been an on going project over the last few years. It has 1/8th" plate aluminum top and back that was cut by hand, with a heavily chambered alder body. I used an All Parts "V" neck and stock Fender hardware. I liked the idea of merging wood with metal. It sounds bright and resonant without being shrill.

1966 Gretsch Monkees Model
I always thought these were cool looking guitars, and yes, I am a Monkees fan. This one is 100% original and really clean. I found it on ebay several years ago for a reasonable price. It looks like Christmas sitting between my green Rickenbackers.

Fender Stratocaster
Eric Clapton's
Prototype Neck

Well....where do I start. This neck was given to a very good friend of mine for his 38th birthday back around 1990 from his very good friend who happened to be the head of artist relations for Fender at the time. This was the neck that Eric Clapton had on his pewter prototype Stratocaster in the mid to late 80's. It was one of two guitars that he had toured with for several years; the other being Torino red with a radical "V" shaped neck. The pewter Strat was sent back to Fender so the neck could be copied for his signature line. The heel of the neck has "grey blackie" printed below the truss rod and the headstock has a cigarette burn from the man himself. The guitar was featured on the cover of the 2nd Edition Stratocaster book by Andre Duchossoir, with a close up photo of the headstock on the back cover. If you've seen Clapton in the mid-80's with a pewter Stratocaster, this is the neck! I was very fortunate to work out a deal around the spring of 2000, and bought the neck from my friend. The tuning machines and string tree were also original to the neck. It has a soft "V" profile with an oiled finish and vintage fretwire. I was told that Fender copied the neck with some refinements per Clapton's request, such as a truss rod adjustment hole at the headstock, and then returned the pewter Strat to him for his approval to go to production. The neck is now on a 56' Custom Shop body with some vintage hardware. That's the story in a nutshell. I'm very lucky.

1956 Gibson
Les Paul Junior

This one is an incredible, all original, well worn, rock'n roll monster that I bought in the late 90's when Juniors were becoming over priced @ $1000 plus (Ha!) I traded a near mint 1968 Rickenbacker 360 for it, but have no regrets. Worth every penny.

1959 Gibson Les Paul Special
This one came in to the shop in 2009, and I took it home to document it for our website, and had to have it. It's been refinished, but has all original parts and has that perfect broken in feel. I have a thing for "mutt" guitars.

1983 Gibson
Explorer Korina,
Heritage Custom Shop

Matt Liban scored this one for me when he worked at Cascio Music in Mequon. Some hippy dude traded it in for a $150 Takamine acoustic. I think that that Gibson only made around 100 of these in the early 80's. This is an amazing sounding guitar. Sustains like nothing else I own. Thanks Matt!

1983 Gibson Flying V
Korina, Heritage Series

Bought this one from the original owner. It's light as a feather and broken in nicely. It has a lot of honest play ware, but I don't mind. Mint condition guitars are cool, but worn instruments play and sound better. It's a fact. All I need is the Moderne to complete the set.

1997 Gibson Les Paul,
'58 Historic Series
I've had a handful Historic Les Pauls, but always wanted a red one like George Harrison's. Bought this from Lark St. Music about 5 years ago. Light weight and sounds great.

2005 Hamer Newport Custom Order
I ordered this Hamer for myself with an ebony fingerboard with crown inlays and a double bound body. Hamer guitars are some of the finest guitars on the market today. I use this in The Five Card Studs on a regular basis.



Top Shelf Guitar Shop
2358 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53207
(414) 481-8677
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