Gavtone custom made guitar, 1986 - Steve Vai


Custom made guitar
Custom made for Steve Vai
The Story Behind

Gavin H. Menzies has a long history working with musicians since the mid seventies. Even if he largely works and is appreciated as a guitar technician, he found him-self building several guitars for Steve Vai for his 1986 tour with David Lee Roth.

This is Steve Vai's Purple Gavtone custom which was custom made by Gavin "Gavtone" with the monkey grip into the body after he had his gear stolen. This was used during the 1986 tour with David Lee Roth and is signed by Steve "Eat 'Em And Smile 1988 Steve Vai".

Elwood Francis guitar tech for Steve Vat remembers in Vintage Guitar magazine the genesis of the cooperation with Gavin Menzies:

"I was the guitar tech for Steve Vat from the Alcatrazz days through the David Lee Roth “Eat’Em and Smile Tour” and there is a lot of misinformation out there concerning (miserly) guitars. Steve Soest did assemble four guitars using parts from Performance Guitar after most of Mr. Vai's guitars were stolen near the end of rehearsals for the Roth tour. Time was short, so we outsourced the job to Gavin Menzies, a well-known guitar guru in L.A., who in turn contacted Mr. Soest."

Gavin Menzies on his adventure with Steve Vai’s guitars:

“The purple sunburst Stratocaster was built by myself in 1986 for Steve Vai for the David Lee Roth “Eat’Em and Smile Tour”.  Steve Vai and Elwood Francis hired me to build five guitars quick, due to the fact that several of his guitars had been stolen.  This purple Stratocaster is one of five and is the prototype for what would be later called the “Jem” by Ibanez.
Steve was very specific as to how he wanted these guitars to look and sound and told me exactly how he wanted them built including, the cut out “monkey grip” suit case handle feature. 
During the 1986 tour, this purple custom was sent back to me for repair. I gave the guitar to my friend “Doc” McGhee (Manager for Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Scorpions and Skid Row all at the same time)  who several years later gave it to Richie Sambora as a gift.
Many years later and by pure coincidence, I was visiting Cher and Elijah Blue  (Cher's son)  at his home whereby he opens up a Kramer guitar case to show me the very purple custom I had built back in 1986.”

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