What is arguably the world’s greatest electric guitar museum is housed in Umea, the Swedish city that lies just a few hundred kilometres from the Arctic Circle.
Priceless Fenders and Gibsons are part of a some 500-piece collection owned by the Ahden twin brothers who go to extreme lengths in their quest to collect.
“When we bought the 1960 Les Paul Sunburst we had a big bank loan already out. We couldn’t go to the bank and borrow any more money. So, we actually sold our whole collection for one guitar. And we are just starting all over again,” explained Samuel Ahden.
As 10-year-olds, they were fascinated by a newspaper front page with Brian Jones and his Gibson ES 330. They were 12 when they first heard Blues Breakers and Eric Clapton. Hendrix was God to them after hearing his Purple Haze played on a Fender Stratocaster.
They played in a series of rock bands themselves and now buy and sell sometimes in bulk – once they bought 43 different Gibsons and Fenders in a single purchase from a man who imported guitars into Sweden from the US.
“We picked out 43 different guitars. We didn’t pay him any money, we didn’t sign a contract, but just shook hands. When we came home, we sold 36 guitars and kept the seven most expensive. It was like that for 20 years,” recalled Samuel.
Their search has not ended as the twins are on the look out for one more guitar – a Gibson Explorer from 1958 of which there are only 22 in the world.
“Umea is pretty far north. We don’t have too many big shot musicians in our town, but maybe we can convince Clapton to come up here to do a gig,” concluded Michael Ahden.
And should the maestro turn up he can forget about a making a bid for any of the guitars as the twins are adamant that none are for sale.