Veleno, The Veleno Original, 1970


The Veleno Original
Serial Number: 
Gibson PAF
The Story Behind


About the Builder:

The Veleno was an all aluminum guitar constructed by John Veleno in the latter half of the 1960's. 

John Veleno was a master machinist and tool & manufacturing engineer when he built his first guitar. His first guitar was purely a personal player. John designed, built, and played it for his own personal enjoyment and it was only by word of mouth that local musicians came to know of John's creation. At the encouragement of his friends, John introduced his guitar to Marc Bolan of T-Rex during the sound check of a T-Rex concert in the Tampa area. Bolan was extremely impressed and asked if John would build two more. What followed was a production run of 200 Veleno guitars. All of his guitars were identical and none of them were custom made (though he received many requests to do so).

The construction of the Veleno is entirely of aluminum. The neck is of a bolt on design and was constructed from a single piece of aluminum. The fretboard is integral with the neck with fret slots machined for inserting nickel alloy frets. The head stock is uniquely identified by a 1/8" raised "V" shape and a ruby is mounted in the center of the headstock. Tuning machines are positioned three on each side. The neck is also uniquely characterized by a continued thickness from the 1st fret to the 18th fret at which point it begins to taper thicker toward the body. Holding the neck in hand, one might think that between the 1st and 18th fret the neck is unusually thin, however this thickness is the same thickness of a stratocaster's neck measured at the strat nut. The body is of a two piece design with a front half and a back half, with both halves coming together in the center of the guitar. The superb craftsmanship of the Veleno guitar reveals no bolts, nuts, or any other fasteners to the outside of the guitar explaining how the two body halves are held together. A clear plastic pickguard covers the a lower portion of the guitar. All Velenos came with 2 humbucking pickups (except for Rundgren's two guitars), four control knobs (2 volume and 2 tone), a phase switch and a pickup selector switch. The bridge is similar in design to that of a gibson (as apposed to the Fender style) with two pieces: a tailstop, and six adjustable pole pieces. Originally, some bodies were polished to a beautiful mirror like finish, some were gold annodized aluminum, and some were left unpolished.

Artists known to have owned Velenos include Mark Bolan of T-Rex, Eric Clapton, Greg Allman, Lou Reed, Johnny Winters, Ace Frehley, Todd Rundgren, Sonny Bonno, Dan Ferguson of the Sonny and Cher band, Steve Albini of Shellac, Pete Haycock of the Climax Blues Band, Ray Monette of Rare Earth, Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad, Ronnie Montrose of Montrose and the Edgar Winters Band, Lonesome Dave Peverett of Foghat, Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra, Terry Blankenship of Daemon, John Stone of Chocolate & Vanilla, Robert Bond of Rise, Mark Klyne of Loveday, Bobbie Creagy of The Doors, Frank DeTulio of Depot, Mario DeMurier of the James Gang, John Olofson of Babel, David Surkamp of Pavolv's Dog, and Ted Smida of Out of Control.

There are other places to look for Veleno guitars such as on the Car's "Panarama" album, the Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando, Florida (Dave Peverett of Foghat's original Veleno), and on the cover of a October 1977 issue of the "Guitar Player" magazine along with Veleno's last customer, Todd Rundgren. Pin collectors might also come across three different Veleno guitar pins produced by the hardrock cafe (2 of the pins are of the special three pcikup Veleno, and 1 is the first Veleno made for Marc Bolan). You will also find them at guitar shows and, occationally at a guitar shop. Due to their low production and high demand, prices for Veleno guitars are well into four digits.

John Veleno constructed all 200 guitars on a part time basis during the evenings while maintaining a full time job to support his family. After some health problems, John decided to focus on his family, and ceased production of the Veleno guitar. John is alive and well and most enjoys the company of his four children Marcella, Carla, Chris, and Tina.

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About the Guitar:

All original, extraordinarily rare and fine musical instrument. This guitar is nearly as new with pickguard intact and nearly no wear.

A piece of history!

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