The old Guthrie Theater was demolished in 2006. Paul Westerberg hasn't been seen on stage since 2015. Somehow, though, a guitar that violently got between the two decommissioned Minneapolis icons in 2002 has reemerged in 2021 and is now up for auction.
An eBay seller and guitar enthusiast in Ohio is taking bids on a 1993 Gibson Les Paul Jr. that the Replacements frontman smashed on stage at the end of his last of three sold-out solo performances at the old Guthrie in 2002.
The autographed instrument — stored in splintered pieces in a Staples office box for 18 years — was recently restored and is even now playable, according to its seller.
"All the breaks by chance were pretty clean," said Nick Matheny, whose eBay listing at press time was already jacked up to nearly $1,900. He did not set a minimum starting bid.
Matheny bought the guitar in pieces about a year ago from an unnamed woman who said Westerberg handed it to her after that last Guthrie show on July 1, 2002. Not one but two autographs on its body checked out. So did the, um, finishing details.
"It has many layers of art, paint, stencils, glitter, and all kinds of marks that look like they were from an angry screwdriver," Matheny reported.
YouTube videos from the Guthrie concerts — which followed the release of his self-recorded double-album, "Stereo/Mono" — also match the guitar to the gig, including a clip of "Lookin' Out Forever" that shows Westerberg roll around with the instrument, then smash it into his amp and then the stage. The Les Paul Jr. was one of many such low-frills guitars he played over the years.
After a careful restoration by the Lord's Neck Shop in the Columbus, Ohio, area, Matheny believes another Replacements fan will appreciate owning and maybe even playing it.
"The repair came out fantastic," he said. "The guitar came with flat-wound strings, and we replaced them with those same style ones. It came to life and sounds just like it did in the YouTube videos."
Of course, most Replacements fans would like nothing better than to see Westerberg himself get back the guitar, then get out and use it again. But that's one restoration job out of this guy's hands.
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658