About Us

Most guitar players, collectors and affcianados agree that the the first Golden Age of American guitars was in the period beginning in the early to mid 1930’s and that it lasted until the mid 1960s.  Everyone knows the big brand names like Gibson, Martin, and then later Fender, and many more know names like Epiphone, Rickenbaker and Guild.   Today guitars made by these companies are universally valued for the high quality of craftsmanship, high quality tone-woods that are no longer available, and that intangibile tangible that some call “old wood” — the rich, burnished sound of electric and acoustic guitars that have been aged in the hands of their owners, not in a factory.

Ironically enough, those guitars were never very available to most players.  Professional grade Les Paul’s, Strats, Teles and Dreadnought guitars have always been expensive, and as a result, millions of players dreamed about guitars with names like “Thin Twin”, “Swingmaster”, “Espanada” and “Rocket”, and the headstocks proudly carried names like “Kay”, “Harmony”, “Silvertone”, “Regal”, “Oahu” and “Old Kraftsman”.  Those are the guitars of our dreams, and they’re the only kinds of guitars we carry at Vintage Vibe San Francisco.

These guitars are legendary, and they helped shape the sound of a generation in the hands of players like Jimmy Reed – Reed’s guitar tone is the most famous example of the unique, thick & biting “Kay sound.”.  Howlin’ Wolf, Big Joe Williams, Barney KesselEric Clapton and Paul McCartney all played Kay guitars back in the day, and players like Jack White, Robert DeLeo,Bob DylanSarah MclachlanPhil AlvinDiablo Dimes, and Sheryl Crow have all rocked vintage Kay guitars in the recent past.   Mega Producer T-Bone Burnett plays a vintage Thin-Twin, sometimes known as “the Howlin’ Wolf” model.

Vintage Vibe is the brainchild of Kevin Patchett, a man who, like many of us, spent too much of his youth pouring over the pages of his Sears, Montgomery Wards and Spiegel  catalogs. A skilled guitarist and consummate repairman, Kevin sets up each of his instruments for optimum playability to ensure that the guitars are not only iconic in their looks, but highly playable as well.

Our inventory is always changing, but we usually have high quality examples of the Department Store Guitars of Your Dreams in stock — give Kevin a call or email Kevin today to let him know what you’re looking for.

The Big Boss Man — Jimmy Reed and his Kay Thin Twin
T-Bone Burnet Rocks his Kay Thin-Twin
T-Bone Burnet Rocks his Kay Thin-Twin
The Howlin Wolf Band Prefers Kay
Vintage VIbe Guitar San Francisco Kay Harmony Silvertone Kraftsman
Wouldn’t You Prefer a Kay, too?

While Fender and Gibson are the most iconic American guitars today, the real dream guitars carry more humble names like Kay, Harmony, Silvertone and Old Kraftsman. These catalog guitars of the '50s an '60s are the guitars of our dreams, and our store is the place where those dreams come true!