American Icons: Custom Guitars Get Paired with Classic Cars

March 25th, 2015

This is an article from the all-new MARCH/APRIL 2015 issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine. For this story, plus features on Bob Seger, Brad Gillis of Night Ranger, the 50th anniversary of Martin’s D-35 guitar, Jon Haber, Dean Gordon Guitars and more, pick up the new issue of Guitar Aficionado at our online store.

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American Icons: Custom Guitars meet classic cars at Long Island’s Music Zoo.

By Chris Gill | Photos by Justin Borucki

Tucked away in the back of an industrial park at the southernmost tip of Long Island’s Hempstead Harbor in Roslyn, New York, the building that houses the Music Zoo is more like a multi-millionaire’s man cave than the typical retail environment. Various coin-operated gaming machines line the halls, and many of the glass-enclosed offices house antiques or works of art. The Music Zoo itself is like a museum of guitars, with literally hundreds of tantalizing beauties hanging from its racks.

“I was looking for industrial space when I discovered this place,” Music Zoo owner Tommy Colletti says. “The owners of the building are a little eccentric, which makes things fun. It’s a unique environment, which is a great fit for us since we’re known for coming up with our own unique guitars and themes.”

Music Zoo works very closely with companies that make the guitars that they sell. Because the store is one of the nation’s top retailers, it has been able to convince most of these companies to build a wide variety of custom, special-edition guitars that are only available from the Music Zoo. A quick scan of the racks, which display numerous unusual items—such as Gibson Explorers and Flying Vs with Pelham Blue finishes and their exclusive bound, flame-maple top ZF Fender Custom Shop Stratocasters—confirms this.

One could easily spend an entire day going through the Music Zoo’s wide variety of rare beauties, but visitors should spare some time to venture around the corner, through the building’s winding hallways, to where building-owner Howard Kroplick keeps several fine examples from his world-class car and automobilia collection. Kroplick may keep the garage locked up, but the cars are all visible through the large picture windows that surround the space.

Way back in Guitar Aficionado’s third issue, we explored the surprisingly close relationship between cars and guitars. When Music Zoo invited us to pair their guitars with Kroplick’s cars, that relationship was further confirmed, as you’ll see in the photos here.

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1966 Shelby Mustang GT 350H
Gibson Custom Shop Les Paul Custom Single Pickup

Back in 1966, Shelby American built 1,001 customized Mustangs for Hertz Rental Car, which customers of the Hertz Sports Car Club rented for $17/day and 17 cents per mile. Most of these Shelby Mustang GT 350H cars were black, but Shelby also made only 55 in Wimbledon white with gold Le Mans Stripes, as seen on this pristine example.

The Gibson Custom Shop Les Paul Custom Single Pickup guitar is made exclusively for Music Zoo and is available with a variety of finish options, including Alpine White as seen here. With only one humbucker, no toggle switch, and only two control knobs, the guitar is lighter and more resonant than the standard Les Paul Custom.

fender-chevy-station-wagon1960 Chevrolet Kingswood station wagon
Fender Custom Shop ’63 Telecaster Relic Burgundy Mist

Produced for only two years (1959 and 1960), the first-generation Chevrolet Kingswood was Chevy’s only station wagon with a rear-facing third-row jump seat. This pristine 1960 example still has its original 283 Turbo Fire small-block, fuel-injected V-8 and Shadow Gray Metallic paint.

The Chevy is paired with a similarly gorgeous-but-utilitarian Fender Custom Shop reissue of a 1963 Telecaster with a rare Burgundy Mist finish. This guitar has very light relic treatment that gives it the “just right” feel of a broken-in instrument.

This is an article from the all-new MARCH/APRIL 2015 issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine. For this story, plus features on Bob Seger, Brad Gillis of Night Ranger, the 50th anniversary of Martin’s D-35 guitar, Jon Haber, Dean Gordon Guitars and more, pick up the new issue of Guitar Aficionado at our online store.

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