For all Guitarists

This is a must to see for yourself.  John Veleno's favorite guitar stores Stevie B's Total Guitar at 650 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg, and 30111 US 19 North, Clearwater, Florida (727) 785-9106, website - Unlike many popular music stores, when you go there you see Stevie B, himself, Stevie Burgess.  John says "One of the most straight forward, truthful music store owner/guitarists, and a just plain and simple down to earth good person.  I am not stating this simply because he has two Veleno guitars on display, I state this because it is the truth.   While getting to know Stevie he showed me photos of appreciative poor and orphaned children to whom he donates musical instruments every Christmas."

"The store?  You never know who's going to pop in while you are there.  For guitarists, it is always exciting.  More than likely you will see and meet popular guitarists with extreme talents.  Every time I'm there I am introduced to many local guitarists.  One of whom I am particulary impressed - 22 year old Damon Fowler of "The Damon Fowler Group", a blues musician I feel is right there with the best of them, including BB King.  At 19 years old Damon was approached by Rick Derringer who, after hearing Damon was so impressed, produced the album "Riverview Drive" for Damon.  For the rest of the story I'll leave it to Stevie."

I grew up in Tampa in the early 70's. My family had just moved from Queens, New York in 1971.  I was already a huge fan of the electric guitar and started playing bass in the summer of 72.  I lived for Creem and Circus magazines.  I listened to every album I could and loved reading the liner notes and looking at the band photos.  I remember fondly the vintage Gibsons, Fenders, Vox amps, Hofners, and Rickenbackers - and the players who used them.  I fantasized about owning these magical guitars and, if I had the cash, could have bought any for very little money (in today's dollar).  Then one day the bar was raised - really high!  On the concert scene appeared a shiny silver aluminum guitar.  Marc Bolan had one, Mark Farner had one, and Lonesome Dave from Foghat had one.  How awesome was the sight of the massive reflection from the gleaming silver axe as Mark Farner, live on stage at the old Tampa Stadium, played and sang We're an American Band.  The crowd went wild.  Then it happened, the light blinded me and it felt as if Mark had reached out and touched me for a moment.  No guitar had that kind of power.  But what kind of guitar was it?  No one knew.   Where could you get one? You could buy a 50's or 60's Strat anywhere.   Flame-top Les Pauls - no problem.  But how could you buy this shiny silver guitar whose name you did not know?  One day I was shopping for clothes from a wonderful 70's boutique called Granny Takes a Trip, a really funky musician friendly establishment. As I went to try on some jeans and closed the dressing room door, I couldn't believe what I saw.  It was a picture of the Veleno guitar.  The shop owner told me the guy who makes the guitar lives in St. Petersburg and does custom orders only.  He told me he lived in a house just past Tyrone Mall turn right into the first development and "look for the silver guitar shaped mailbox."   I couldn't believe it!   That was all I needed to know!   I was going to find that man, at that house, with that mailbox and order myself a shiny silver bass.    Excitement building, I drove around St. Petersburg for hours looking for the mystical mailbox.  I never found it.  I resigned myself to putting chrome pickguards on my Jazz basses and flashing the crowds when the spotlight hit me.   Eventually I gave up hope of ever owning a Veleno.  They were truly rare and elusive and only rich and famous rock stars owned the few I had ever seen.  It wasn't until the mid 80's that I saw one in person.  I was working at a music store in Tampa.  A Veleno was in for a set-up.  It was gorgeous and I couldn't keep my hands off it.  I asked the owner if he would be interested in selling.  He thought a minute and said he would take five grand for it.  I was floored: #1 I didn't have the money; and #2 I was just amazed at its value.  Fast forward to the summer of 2000.  It was a Monday, my day off from the shop when Debra, my girlfriend, called.  A guy had just called offering some guitar she had never heard of for sale.   It was a Veleno.  I couldn't believe it.  I was at this man's place in Tampa in 45 minutes.  When he opened the case my heart fluttered.  I felt as if I just found buried treasure.  It was superbly clean and well preserved; the ruby in the headstock gleamed;  stamped on the body was #98.  I had struck gold - or should I say silver - I couldn't get the money out of my pocket fast enough.   Lightening does strike twice.  Three months after buying my first Veleno, #122 came in my shop and was traded for a Gibson SG Les Paul.  To top it all off, the Veleno guitar plays even better than it looks!  John really had his thinking cap on when he designed this gleaming beauty.  The slim neck makes this guitar a joy to play.  There is not a dead spot anywhere on the neck.   The Guild humbuckers are so warm and sweet; when coupled with the micro switches on the guitar, it is more than capable of classic Fender and Gibson tones as well as a palette of completely original tones.  It is fair to say that John Veleno was way ahead of his time.  This guitar just wails and sustains forever. Thank you, John, for creating a visual and sonic masterpiece.  It was an honor and a pleasure to have met John Veleno in person.   He is a kind; friendly and very humble man.  We have had some very enjoyable conversations and laughs about the lore and facts of the Veleno guitar and tales of his famous clients and experiences.  I invite all that wish to see a Veleno guitar to stop by my shop, Stevie B's Total Guitar at 30111 U.S. 19 North in Clearwater.  And sorry, no, they are not for sale!