Steve Vai has been reunited with a significant piece from his guitar history, revealing over the weekend that the “swiss cheese” guitar that he used during filming of David Lee Roth‘s “Yankee Rose” video has been found and returned after being missing for 36 years.
The distinctive green guitar was one of the one’s featured in the video, noticeable for the swiss cheese-styled holes cut out of the body of the instrument. According to Vai, he intended to use the instrument while touring with Roth that summer, but it went missing from his Pasadena rehearsal space for years not long after the video shoot … until it was found last year by young Ivan Gonzales Acosta in the attic of his grandparents’ home.
Vai shared photos and the story of his reunion with the instrument via his social media, stating, “Reunited, and it feels so good. Oddly enough, after going missing 36 and a half years ago, my custom Joe Despagni ‘Swiss Cheese’ guitar was finally returned to me. This guitar was custom built for me by Joe Despagni. Joe was my best friend in life growing up and he made me some of the wildest guitars I ever laid my fingers on such as the Flame guitar, the Lightning Bolt, this Swiss Cheese guitar, ZNG ZNG, and his final piece that he made for me before he passed away, Theadolite. He worked with his brother Rob on many of these guitars.”
Offering a little more insight, Vai recalls, “I used ‘Swiss Cheese’ in the original Yankee Rose video while I was with David Lee Roth, and stretched it out in rehearsals and was planning on touring with it, but this guitar, along with 3 others, was stolen in Pasadena CA at Perkins Palace during rehearsals for the Eat Em and Smile tour. It is officially the first guitar to receive a ‘monkey grip’ handle, and the first one Joe made with a handle at my request.”
Vai continues, “The guitar was discovered by young Iván Gonzáles Acosta in the attic of his grandparents home in Tijuana, Mexico not too long ago. It seems the people that lived in his grandparents house before them purchased the guitar somewhere along the way and it was just stuck in the attic only to be discovered recently when they were reorganizing things. When Ivan discovered this guitar, he posted some images online and they came on the trusty radar of our very own Mike Mesker. Mike is THE authority on the history and specifics of all my guitars. Mike started reaching out to Ivan and after some time he was able to arrange a drop off where Ivan was met by Mike, Doug MacArthur and myself. Thanks to Mike for his solid vigilance in bringing this guitar home.”
As for coming across the instrument after all this time away, the guitar great says, “The condition of the guitar when I saw it was a shocker. It’s as if it was put in the case and never played for 36 years. The colors are still vibrant and the neck is in great shape.”
He concludes, “Thank you Ivan for your kind consideration and for reuniting me with this piece of my history. Receiving this guitar feels like an old friend has returned home after so many years to jam with me. I believe that we will make a wonderful Ham and Swiss sandwich together.”
Check out Steve’s full posting and photos and revisit the David Lee Roth “Yankee Rose” video below.
David Lee Roth, “Yankee Rose”
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