As you may have seen in the news, Randy Bachman recently made a pilgrimage to Japan to be reunited with his Gretsch guitar, which was stolen from his Toronto hotel room in 1977. Bachman had searched for it ever since with no luck, but in an amazing turn of fate in an antique guitar shop in Daikanyama, (which is just a five-minute walk from the BC Wood Tokyo Office) it was bought at a guitar auction in Dallas, Texas, not knowing it had been stolen, and then sold it to the Japanese musician TAKESHI in 2014. TAKESHI of course had no idea who the previous owners might have been, but he felt it was a special guitar as soon as he picked it up in the store. He loved his new guitar so much that he used it to write his music and perform.

A Bachman fan learned about the lost guitar and initiated an online search to find it in 2020. He impressively tracked it to the Tokyo shop, but having been sold already knew he had to now find the new owner. He was able to this as well since videos of TAKESHI’s performances are online. The super fan let Randy know he had found the guitar and an approach was made to TAKESHI’s management firm, culminating in the musician agreeing to return the Gretsch to the rock legend.

You might be wondering how the fan knew it was indeed the lost guitar and how Randy could offer enough proof to convince TAKESHI to return this incredibly valuable antique. It was all in the woodgrain. Originally the fan scanned old images of Bachman playing the guitar and was able to create a “fingerprint” using the natural characteristics in the wood. A few interestingly placed knots in particular were key. This unique fingerprint is what allowed him to comb the internet and find it within a matter of weeks. When TAKESHI was shown it to compare to the guitar he had bought, he recognized that it was without a doubt Bachman’s Gretsch. Randy bought a sister guitar that was made the same week as his and offered it to TAKESHI in exchange.

The Canadian Embassy in Tokyo organized a very special Canada Day event to facilitate the exchange and allow the two musicians to perform together. The Tokyo COFI staff and I were proud to be able to take part in this momentous occasion that helped cement another bridge between Japan and Canada. It also made us appreciate yet again the great stories that real wood can tell and what a truly special resource we get to work with.