In late 2014 I challenged guitar builder Tony Nobles to create a visionary Dream Guitar.
But I didn’t want it to be my dream guitar.
I wanted it to be HIS dream guitar.
Three years later, Tony succeeded.
He announced, “There is no guitar like this on the planet.”
I’ve now seen it.
And played it.
And he’s right.
It’s a masterpiece.
Let me tell the story behind it:
Tony has been building guitars for almost thirty years. He’s made them for celebrity musicians such as Joe Walsh, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Alejandro Escovedo and others.
He’s also made them for lesser known collectors and players, like me.
I have a collection of a hundred old and new guitars by great luthiers, known and unknown.
Some of them (to name drop) are Bean, Baldwin, Collings, DK, Manzer, Maton, Versoul, D’Angelico, Veillette, Bacce, McElroy, Teye, Oxbow, Huss & Dalton, PRS, Santa Cruz, Fylde, Gigliotti, Trenier, Tesla, Trussart, and Zemaitis, as well as vintage Martin and Gibson models.
I’ve also seen impressive private collections, like that of rock icon Melissa Etheridge.
Guitars are playable art.
And sometimes a good investment.
I love them.
And no, you can never have enough.
I suspected a luthier with Tony’s decades of experience might be open to a bold idea.
I wondered –
What if I acted like a patron saint of the arts and commissioned him to create something visionary from his own mind, not mine?
Tony accepted the challenge in 2014.
For the next two years he read, thought, dreamed and wondered.
He also came to my home and spent a day examining my own collection, from the Fylde guitar made out of a former Scotch whiskey barrel, to Danelectros with their lipstick pickups, to an Oxford Guitars baritone electric made from gem stones and prehistoric wood.
I would also supply Tony with coffee table sized books about some of the greatest guitars of all time.
One book in particular became the resource for what would become the Dream Guitar.
The book was a hefty volume called Archtop Guitars: The Journey from Cremona to New York.
It displayed artistic photos and inside stories of museum quality guitars from three legends, D’Angelico, D’Aquisto and Monteleone. I had bought it from Rudy Pensa, the author and owner of Rudy’s Music in SOHO in New York.
Tony would later tell me, “Whatever I created had to be of the caliber of these guitars in this book, else what was I doing?”
Fast forward to October 20, 2016.
After almost two years of research and incubation, Tony showed me a sketch of an idea.
It was a light pencil outline on a torn off sheet of butcher paper, but I could see the vision being born.
The 1970’s Ibanez “Iceman” guitar inspired Tony. Paul Stanley of KISS made the Iceman electric famous.
“I like how that guitar sits well on your knee,” Tony explained. “Builders often forget the guitar has to be comfortable.” (Tony is a player, too, being in the band The Beaumonts.)
But that was only the beginning.
He knew he wanted an archtop, like those in the Pensa book, and he wanted an electric pickup.
My only request when I commissioned this guitar was a Bigsby or whammy bar. I love them.
Otherwise, Tony had a blank canvas to create per inspiration and will.
Tony was now off and running.
Using sinker log redwood, rare Brazilian Rosewood, and more, he began to carve and build what would become the world’s first Dream Guitar.
“I wanted the fret system to be different,” he says, “so I used what’s called True Temperament.”
Those are “wiggly” shaped frets that look odd but help the guitar stay in tune better and longer.
Things got even more unique when it came to the pickup.
“The Austin Sidewinder pickup was made specifically for this guitar by Bob Palmieri of Duneland Labs in Chicago,” Tony says. “I’ve never heard anything like it.”
When I finally saw the Dream Guitar in late December 2017, right before Christmas and just days before my 64th birthday, my jaw dropped.
But then I held it.
The guitar is feather light.
I thought of the term “floating guitar.” Tony says it’s less than five pounds. It sat on my leg as if it was tailor made to fit my knee.
Playing it was a surprise, too.
Each note has a distinct ring, and a sustain that is clear, rich, and drawn out.
The odd shaped frets weren’t even noticeable as anything different as I played, and may have made my chord fingering easier.
Guitar Monk Mathew Dixon, who I’ve made several bestselling instrumental albums with, was with me for the unveiling of the Dream Guitar.
He said, “Tony has undoubtedly created a masterpiece.”
I play the guitar every single day.
It’s already inspired two new songs.
And it’s inspired a new instrumental album that Guitar Monk and I have started “allowing” to happen.
The Dream Guitar is, well, a dream.
I saw that Tony had stretched in making this guitar.
Tony told me, “The little push you gave me down the path of uncertainty really did spur some growth.”
For me, seeing a man exceed his perceived boundaries and go pass tradition was inspiring and gratifying.
My books, music, coaching, mentoring, and presentations are all encouragements to do more and be more, to dream and achieve.
Even the album I made with Grammy nominated singer Ruthie Foster, and producer Daniel Barrett, was all about stretching, so much so that we called it Stretch.
And the new book I have coming out soon about strongman feats of strength, titled Anything Is Possible, is all about exceeding what we think is impossible.
I feel I succeeded in inspiring a builder to stretch, just as his one-of-a-kind Dream Guitar is now succeeding in inspiring me to create and play new music.
What would you do if you forgot tradition, perceived limits, and everyone’s expectations of what was possible – including your own?
PS – Tony Nobles can be reached at https://www.facebook.com/tony.nobles.5
Note: The professional photos of the Dream Guitar were by Rodney Bursiel.
Bonus: Here’s a 23-minute video about the making of the Dream Guitar:
“Do you believe in God?”
I would get that question after people read my book, The Attractor Factor, or read (or saw the movie) The Secret.
They somehow assumed that the Law of Attraction replaced God.
They somehow assumed that people who practice the Law of Attraction are playing God.
That confused me.
“God gave you the Law of Attraction,” I would explain. “Just as God — or the Divine, Universe, or Nature — gave you gravity. It’s a tool you can use, but it doesn’t replace the person who gave it to you.”
I’d go on to explain that I absolutely believe in God, but usually call that “ultimate force of life” the Divine, to neutralize any emotional buttons people have when they hear the word “God.”
But this unseen force is not only giving us life, It is nudging us in a certain direction, too.
In a way, the force is “pruning” us.
As you go about your life, you get bumped and rocked by events as a way for Life (God, Divine, etc) to direct you where IT wants you to go.
The more you follow the nudges, the easier life gets.
This blog post is an example.
I was sitting, eating dinner with Nerissa, when the idea for this post entered my mind.
I wasn’t looking for an idea.
I was enjoying my dinner.
But I’ve learned to obey the Divine’s inspirations.
So I turned to Nerissa and said, “You know how I get ideas at odd moments?”
She looked at me and said, “See you later.”
Here’s another example:
I was in New York City on business and decided to visit Rudy’s Music Store in SoHo.
I knew it was famous, that Rudy Pensa is a renown collector of rare instruments, and I suspected it’d be worth the trip to see it.
The beautiful store is two stories of new and old guitars, acoustic and electric, some highly collectible, all stunning.
I was in awe of the place.
In a display case was a 1938 D’Angelico New Yorker archtop guitar.
If you know guitars, you just fainted.
The late John D’Angelico is considered the Michelangelo of guitar makers.
His instruments are sought after by collectors, musicians, museums, and fans.
Books have been written about his style and his guitars.
Even Rudy, the owner of the shop, created a mammoth coffee table book (Archtop Guitars) with some of D’Angelico’s guitars described inside, knew D’Angelico, and owns a few of his works.
D’Angelico made 1,164 guitars in his life. (He died in 1964).
He didn’t hand carve all those guitars for fame or fortune.
He said, “Big money? Big title? For what? I want to build guitars under my own name, for my own customers, the way I do it! For me that’s a good life!”
And there I was, staring at one of them.
Gordon, the shop keeper, pulled the 1938 masterpiece out of the case and handed it to me.
“I can play it?” I asked.
“Yes, of course,” he said. “We want you to experience any guitar you see here.”
I held the archtop as if it was out of a museum.
I strummed it and heard the sound of angels.
I looked it over and saw God’s handiwork in a guitar.
I could tell the guitar was well played, well loved, and still in flawless shape.
“Everything on it is original except the covering on the pick guard,” Gordon said. “We even have the original case.”
Later, Rudy showed me the ledger in his book revealing the serial number for the guitar, year made, and who it was made for, all in D’Angelico’s handwriting.
This is where I felt the inner tug at my heart that I think is the Divine calling me.
I’ve learned to follow those tugs.
After Rudy told me the price, and I gasped, I asked if there was a discount for a guitar lover who would probably buy other guitars from him.
He laughed, ran some numbers, and gave me a slight break.
I bought it.
What does this have to do with God?
Look behind the scenes…
I only felt directed to go to one store in all of New York City.
I could have gone anywhere.
And while there, the D’Angelico seemed to call out my name.
I could have ignored it.
I believe all of this was Divinity aiming my direction.
Later, after I left the store and decided to walk two miles back to my hotel, I wondered what would come of my buying an investment grade work of playable art.
Then another inspiration hit me.
(Where do these inspirations come from?)
I realized that my forthcoming book, The Secret Prayer, could be enriched with the story of how I was led to the guitar.
You see, I had said a prayer before I left that morning, asking to be led to the right place and to experience a joyful event.
As I’ve written before, “Prayer is a way to activate the Law of Attraction by requesting an intention and inviting inspiration.”
I said my prayer in a state of gratitude, made a request for an exciting day, and took action by following my hunch to go to Rudy’s.
From there, I simply allowed the miracle.
And it happened.
In other words, God is directing me (and you, too, of course), and we can attract (or allow) miracles when we act on the signs and opportunities we are given.
But we have to participate.
I could have said “I”ll skip Rudy’s and go to Starbucks.”
I could have said, “Nah, that D’Angelico is too expensive.”
I could have said, “No, I’d rather finish dinner than write this post.”
But when you say YES to the inspirations, and take action, you are following Divinity’s plan for you.
When you follow inspiration – whether to build a guitar of the caliber of a D’Angelico, or to buy one – you are following the Divine’s path for you.
But you may need a razor sharp sensitivity to hear the whisper, and total faith to take action on the prompting.
Werner Erhard (founder of est) used to say, “If you knew what God wanted you to do, you’d do it and be happy. Well, what you are doing right now is what God wants you to do.”
So the next time you feel stuck or stopped, ask if Divinity is trying to redirect your path or your process.
Or the next time you receive a nudge to leave dinner early, or buy a guitar, ask if you are ready to step out in faith.
Where is God?
PS – Rudy’s Music Store in New York City is right here.
PPS – Yes, I was also practicing “prosperous purchasing” by getting the 1938 D’Angelico New Yorker, a concept I explain in my free book, Attract Money Now.