Serendipity in Nashville – reuniting a historic guitar with its maker

(Image credit: Mark Agnesi/Instagram)

In a serendipitous turn of events, a yacht broker from Connecticut played a part in reuniting a historic guitar with its maker…

Sabre & Back Cove Yachts recently hosted our dealer meeting in Nashville, TN with representatives from our dealerships around the country & the world.

Why did a Maine-based boatbuilder host an event in Nashville? Well, there are a couple good reasons! The first is that logistically-speaking, it is a relatively central location as we have a strong network of dealers all over… Secondly, and much more interestingly, there is a family connection between Sabre and Back Cove and Gibson. Our Chairman, Daniel Zilkha, has lead Sabre since the early 1990’s and Back Cove since its inception, while his son, Nat Zilkha, is the current Chairman of Gibson Guitars. Talk about a really neat connection between two iconic American manufacturing brands from very different industries!

Part of the trip included a night at the Gibson Garage to celebrate our dealers and give out the Dealer & Broker of the Year awards. As a part of the evening, we were treated to an incredible behind the scenes tour of the Garage with Mark Agnesi, Gibson’s Director of Brand Experience. One of the folks on the tour with us was the 2023 Back Cove Broker of the Year, Joe Nadeau, from Petzold’s Marine Center in CT. Joe was also part of the group that toured the Gibson manufacturing facility while we were in town.

Joe Nadeau, 2023 Back Cove Broker of the Year, and his wife, Nancy, at the Gibson Garage

Shortly after returning home, he stumbled across something quite interesting… Nadeau was browsing Facebook Marketplace when he came across a 1961 Gibson Les Paul SG Custom that had once belonged to Mary Ford. Ford was a singer and guitarist who, along with her husband Les Paul, was one of the most popular musical acts of the 1950s.

“I don’t really play the guitar but am interested in the instrument, so I look for old guitars on Facebook Marketplace occasionally. One day while browsing something caught my eye, it was a 1961 Gibson Les Paul SG Custom, and it had been owned by one Mary Ford… the Mary Ford guitar popped up in my search because the owner lives within five miles of my home! The owner lives in close by and is a guitar collector and local business owner.

I’m very familiar with the story of Les Paul and Mary Ford, they were musical superstars of their day back in the 1950’s with several #1 hits. Their story is quite interesting! I knew the guitar was significant in musical history and especially in Gibson’s history. Mark Agnesi was so nice and we enjoyed the Gibson tour so much that I immediately thought he’d be interested.  I tracked down his email and sent him the link to the owner’s contact information, he jumped on it right away.  The seller drove it down to Nashville and really enjoyed the experience.”

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It’s not every day that you stumble upon something as historic as this guitar, especially right after getting the behind the scenes tour at Gibson. To be able to play a part in returning that guitar to the brand for display in the Music City is truly special!

The guitar is now on display at the Gibson Garage, where it is a reminder of the company’s rich history and its association with some of the most important musicians of all time.

And in case you haven’t seen it, here’s a little video recap of our trip to Nashville and the Gibson Garage…

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Serendipity in Nashville - reuniting a historic guitar with its maker
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