Meramec alumnus keeps it old school

Posted on 29 January 2014 by admin

Dave Hinson, local guitar shop owner, sells to A-list

Dave Hinson, owner of Killer Vintage, specializes in appraising, buying and selling of electric and acoustic guitars. PHOTO | DENNIS W. PARKS

Dave Hinson, owner of Killer Vintage, specializes in appraising, buying and selling of electric and acoustic guitars. PHOTO | DENNIS W. PARKS

Staff Writer

Former STLCC-Meramec student, Dave Hinson, has always had a passion for guitars. Since taking lessons from Mel Bay, local music teacher, in 1962, Hinson’s guitar knowledge has grown into a career.

In 1994, Hinson opened Killer Vintage, a guitar store that specializes in appraising, buying, selling and repairing of both electric and acoustic vintage guitars, and amplifiers. Along with local musicians, Hinson’s clientele includes Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones, Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top, Sheryl Crow and the Eagles, as well as other well-known artists.

Aside from doing business with rock stars, Hinson spends much of his time as an editor for “Vintage Guitar Price Guide” and is also a contributing editor and advisor of the “Blue Book of Guitars.” He also serves on the advisory board for Los Angeles’ Modern Guitar Museum, an expert appraiser for Heritage Auctions and is a consultant for PBS’s “Antique Roadshow.”

“Pre-World War II Martins, Gibsons and Fenders were works of art,” Hinson said. “Their craftsmanship is a part of American History that should be preserved.”

Driven by his thirst of knowledge for music and the guitars he sells, Hinson is constantly learning all he can about his product.

“I learn everyday,” Hinson said. “There is a lot of information on the Internet, but not a lot of knowledge.”

Hinson, who studied music at Meramec in 1971, started playing gigs at local high school dances when he was 15.

“Twenty dollars a night was a big gig back then,” Hinson said.

After a few years, Hinson began searching out other guitars. He was continually playing music and therefore looking for a better instrument for himself. With each guitar he purchased or sold, he would gain more knowledge of each guitar’s characteristics and sound qualities.

“At that time these guitars were just ‘used,’” Hinson said. “They had not gained that ‘vintage’ or ‘classic’ status, yet.”

After attending Meramec, a scholarship to play guitar for the jazz band lured Hinson to Southwest Baptist College. A semester later, he was a student at Southwest Missouri State University. One constant was that he was still playing guitar — along with buying, selling and trading up whenever the opportunity presented itself.

After leaving college, Hinson worked as a freight train conductor for the Union Pacific Railroad. Traveling a lot, Hinson was able to search out and buy old guitars all across the country. When back home in St. Louis, Hinson would take one of his new finds backstage at the Kiel Opera House or another local venue.

“In those days, if you were carrying a guitar case most anyone could go backstage,” Hinson said. “It would sure make an impression on your date if you sold a guitar to Jethro Tull, watched the concert from backstage and partied with the band after the show.”

Although nowadays Hinson does not play guitar as much as he used to, he still continues to play regular gigs with Whiskey Morning, a local country band.

For Hinson, music and guitars have been a way of life and he has no intention of retiring any time soon.

“It’s the thrill of the hunt,” Hinson said.


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