This is a temporary page to explain recent events and offer pictures of the 2 recovered guitars. The location of most(?) of the gear has been known for some time now (attempts to recover it in summer '04 were unsuccessful), and hopefully these two are just the first in a slow return. Only time will tell... Here's the scoop:

Per SONICYOUTH.COM's news update, OCTOBER '05:

"Two guitars stolen in 1999 have been recovered by the band. The guitars recovered are both ones played by Lee: a Fender Telecaster Thinline (#370090), and a Travis Bean (#375). Both have been painted and otherwise ravaged, with pickups hanging loose and parts missing, but they are the guitars. This brings to three the total number of stolen guitars recovered. The other was Travis #102."

Per an interview done while in California for Arthurfest in September:

The kid says heís got the guitars, and itís all true. He wasnít part of the heist, that black summer of í99, when a truck packed to the ceiling with guitars, drums, amps, and pedals (all hot-rodded for sonic noise and pleasure) disappeared while the members of Sonic Youth slept in their hotel beds, preparing for a summer rock festival down in the O.C. That was the kidís uncle or somebody, a guy serving time even now for unrelated sins. Anyway, that caper was six years ago, and this kidís barely out of high school, away from home and living in his car, and heís got the guitars!

So this kid walks right up to Lee Ranaldo, right here in Hollywood, and he says something like: "Remember me? Weíre the guys that have some of your guitars." Ranaldo remembers. Heís been trying to work something out with the kid for some time, but the kidís skittish, not asking for money, but maybe worried about ending up in trouble. And there are others like him. Not long ago, Ranaldo found another of his beloved and scattered guitars on eBay and managed to reclaim it - for quadruple the original price.

A rendezvous is planned. Drummer Steve Shelley will meet with the kid and a friend the next morning with $500 cash. Ranaldo is not angry at all. He just wants his gear. "These kids had nothing to do with stealing it," he says. "But they were, in their own sort of fucked-up way, trying their best to help us, even though it took them forever to finally do so."

The guitars recovered were Lee's F-hole Telecaster from his Pre-SY Flucts days (his main 'screwdriver' guitar on all the early records, later resigned to F#GA for the 90s live act -- viewed here) and Lee's "target" Travis Bean, his primary F#F#F#F#EB guitar during the 90s (used extensively on Washing Machine -- viewed here). Here are pictures of how the guitars look today:


  • full guitar
  • close-up of body
  • close-up of tailpiece/bridge pickup


  • full guitar
  • close-up of body
  • close-up of rear cavity
  • close-up of rear cavity

    CLICK HERE for a side-by-side comparison of the Telecaster now and then (though I'm surprised I don't have a better picture of Lee playing it).

    CLICK HERE for a side-by-side comparison of the Travis Bean now and then...if you dare.

    Despite their condition, I think we can expect to see these guitars back onstage in due time...

    more later...CL  

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