By: Duane Blankenship | Category: Recreation/Leisure | Issue: August 2010
Jake and Larry Shaeffer, “pickers” of vintage guitars and equipment, with some of their favorites from an outstanding collection representing the 1930s through the ’60s.
Located in Sand Springs is a very interesting father and son team who are “pickers” in two senses of the word. They both love and play the music and instruments of the 1930s through the ’60s, and both have become “pickers,” or collectors specializing in vintage guitars and other musical instruments and equipment of those eras. Their company is named Indian Territory Guitars.
Larry Shaeffer is the senior of the two. His interest in music began when he was 16 years old growing up in Mannford, OK. He played lead guitar in the ’60s for a group known as The Undertakers, and as Larry says, “We were actually good enough to get a lot of bookings.” In the ’70s, Larry bought the famous Cain’s Ballroom, which he owned for 25 years. Built in 1924 by Tulsa entrepreneur Tate Brady, Cain’s Ballroom has transformed from a garage, a dime-a-dance joint, and a dancing academy to what it is known as today by artists and patrons alike – one of the top performance venues in the world.
Larry does business today as Larry Shaeffer Presents. He is a promoter of many talented entertainers, including Willie Nelson, Gordon Lightfoot, Ray Price and George Jones. Larry promotes musical concerts and handles all the advertising and marketing for his clients.
Some of you may be familiar with the popular TV show “American Pickers.” In the series, two expert “pickers” are a far cry from what many of us envision as dumpster divers; Mike and Frank have become a crucial link on the chain that drags valuable relics out of obscurity.
Larry and Jake are also pickers and collectors of the relics of their love: music. Their antiquing has a special focus on vintage guitars, and they hope after reading this, you will bring some of the old Fender, Gibson, Gretsch, Rickenbacker, Martin, Kay, Harmony, and Silver Tone guitars out from their hiding places in your closets and under beds. In addition to the classic guitars of the ’30s through the ’60s, Larry and Jake also collect steel guitars, basses, amplifiers, standards, and electric and acoustic guitars. According to the father-son team, “We collect them because we like them.” Their collection of guitars is truly magnificent.
Larry began collecting vintage guitars eight years ago and is fascinated with the history and the authenticity of each item in their collection. Jake began studying the history of instruments when he was only 13 and had a fascination with Buddy Holly. “Buddy was always my idol,” he says. Jake has since become an expert in his field. The most expensive instrument in the pair’s collection is a blond Fender Stratocaster with gold hardware, valued at $100,000. A few favorites from their collection include a 1937 National New Yorker steel guitar styled in the art deco fashion to model the Empire State Building, Fender Stratocaster and Esquire models, a 1963 Gibson 120, and a 1953 Gibson Console Grande steel guitar.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Cleveland, Ohio, and some of the display items in the museum are on loan from Larry’s personal collection. “If you’re ever in the Cleveland area,” says Larry, “be sure to visit the Rock and Roll Museum. It’s fascinating.”
“We’re always wheelin’ and dealin’,” says Larry. If you have an old guitar, amplifier, or other interesting musical item from the ’30s through ’60s, give Larry and Jake at Indian Territory Guitars a call. You might be able to turn a dust collector into some hard cash.
Blankenship graduated from the University of Oklahoma and has enjoyed a lifetime career in advertising. He started his own advertising business in 1993 and enjoys creating graphic art and writing. Hobbies include hunting, fishing and pencil drawings. Duane and his wife, Janice, have been married over 50 years and are active in their church and community. He has been a contributing writer for Value News/Values Magazine since 2005.