The second-hand musical instrument and equipment market never fails to fascinate me. At a superficial level, it opens up opportunities to acquire instruments that you would never have the chance to acquire from established retailers. Beyond the surface, however, such encounters often come with the opportunity to meet new people, hear interesting stories, and make new friends. Within the few years that I have been purchasing and selling second-hand equipment, I have always found myself to be with good company and was able to widen my perspective little by little. Saying that each piece I buy from the second-hand market gives me new stories to tell and fragments of history to think about would be a mere understatement.
Just a few days ago, I was on the hunt for a better classical guitar for my son, which led me to meet a man named Oliver Bugho. He had an ad posted on the popular buy-and-sell site olx.ph (formerly Sulit.Com.Ph) that described a vintage Japanese-made classical guitar, all-solid-wood construction (spruce top, mahogany back and sides, rosewood fretboard) for under $200. It seemed like a good deal so I requested for an appointment.
I met Oliver last night after sending off my son to a vacation in Cavite with my parents. As with most of my second-hand-instrument encounters, it quickly became a getting-to-know-you session. I told him a little bit of my backstory and he told me his. As such, I discovered that he also knew some of the people I have encountered before like Japanese second-hand musical instrument dealer Marlon de Lara among others. It was also the debut of his musical instrument venture, something new for him after years of selling Macs as well as home theater equipment from Japan. After testing the guitar and chit chat, I got more than what I paid for.
The guitar itself had a mysterious air to it. Oliver had previously sent the guitar to Mike Sison (critically acclaimed Filipino guitar technician) for assessment and minor repair. He said that Mike thought the guitar could easily fetch $250 or more. As I inspected the guitar, I saw that the sticker or label was entirely written in Japanese, Kanji I believe, and so I had no clue as to who made the guitar. It seemed like a hand-crafted piece rather than a mass-produced one, and it seemed to be that way as I played it. I knew that instant that I had a really good instrument in my hands and so I decided to buy it for my son. Oliver offered refreshments afterwards. I wholeheartedly and graciously accepted his hospitality.
Over a few drinks, I discovered that Oliver specializes in computers (Macs) and was capable of selling them like hotcakes. He knew turntables, vinyl records, and audiophile equipment very well. He also considers himself a hobbyist solar energy technician (although he has done solar power installations professionally). We talked about a number of things such as music (he watched me play guitar as I tested his stuff and then played a little bit of Chick Corea’s “Spain” on a Yamaha PS-55), the politics of visual arts (e.g. painting, etc.), a George Clooney movie about art, war games using air soft guns, a little bit of politics, etc. It’s worth noting that he hails from Tacloban hence he had very good insight as to what went on after the Yolanda tragedy (a topic for later writings I suppose).
Overall, I really enjoyed my time at Oliver’s. I will most likely go back there for a number of other items as well as to enjoy good company. If you are in Metro Manila and you are looking for musical instruments, home theater systems, Apple products, alternative energy installations (solar), turntables, and imported items from Japan, please visit his olx.ph page (members.olx.ph/nickat)
And so, how does this vintage classical guitar sound like? Here’s an unprocessed video clip featuring yours truly playing a rough sketch of a composition idea I have entitled “Dapit Hapon”. Now, it’s time for me to work on something else. Until next time.