Steve Vai has been reunited with a significant piece of his guitar history, revealing over the weekend that the “Swiss Cheese” guitar he used during the recording of David Lee Roth‘s “Yankee Rose” video has been found and returned after being lost for 36 years.
The distinctive green guitar was one of those featured in the video, noticeable for the Swiss cheese-style holes cut out of the instrument’s body. According to Vai, he intended to use the instrument while touring with Roth that summer, but it disappeared from his Pasadena rehearsal space for years not long after the video was shot … until it was found last year by young Ivan Gonzales Acosta in the attic of his grandparents’ home.
Sharing photos and the story of his reunion with the instrument via his social media, Vai said: “Reunited and it feels so good. Strangely, after disappearing 36 and a half years ago, my custom Joe Despagni ‘Swiss Cheese’ came guitar was finally returned to me. This guitar was custom built for me by Joe Despagni. Joe was my best friend growing up and he made me some of the wildest guitars I’ve ever laid my hands on like the Flame- the guitar, Lightning Bolt , this Swiss Cheese guitar, ZNG ZNG, and his last piece that he made for me before he died, Theadolite. He worked with his brother Rob on a lot 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 planned to tour with it, but this guitar, together with 3 others, was stolen in Pasadena CA at Perkins Palace during rehearsals for Eat Em and Smile trip. It’s officially the first guitar to receive a ‘concept’ handle, and the first 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 that the people who lived in his grandparents’ house before buying the guitar a place 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 pictures online and they came onto our very own Mike Mesker’s trusty radar. Mike is the authority on the history and details of all my guitars Mike started reaching out to Ivan and after some time was able to arrange a drop off where Ivan was met by Mike, Doug MacArthur and myself Thanks 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 shocking. It’s like it was put in the case and never played for 36 years. The colors are still alive and the neck is in good 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’ll make a wonderful Ham and Swiss sandwich together.”
Check out Steve’s full post and photos and revisit the David Lee Roth “Yankee Rose” video below.
David Lee Roth, “Yankee Rose”
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