Treasured guitar returned to Sydney owner 28 years after it was stolen in the US

A SYDNEY man is soon to be reunited with his guitar, 28 years after it was stolen in the US.

Time and distance are no boundaries for the musician and the beloved electric guitar, after someone discovered it inscribed with his name and tracked him down half way around the world.

Manning Bartlett is a musician who toured the US in the late 80s and early 90s, and lost his first Gibson L6S guitar while he was loading up his van way back in the 1989.

“It was an amazing guitar, and quite rare, it made its way through the Tasmanian music scene in the 70s and to me in the 80s,” Mr Bartlett said.

media_cameraManning Bartlett playing on stage with his beloved guitar. Picture: Facebook.

He first got it when he was a teenager with and played shows around Tasmania before moving to the US where he lived from 1987.

“For me when I got it when I was 13, it was my first ever electrical guitar, in 1982, it was the height of the Van Halen era,” he said.

He said he thought the guitar had disappeared along with the vibrant live music scene that existed in the early 90s.

“I never expect this to happen,” he said.

media_cameraDoug O’Dell, the guitar repairman from Cleveland who discovered the owner’s name and tracked him down.

The guitar is now on its way back to Australia, decades after it was lost.

He said the guitar from 1974 was worth a great deal to him, and said he was angry when it was stolen in early hours of the freezing cold of winter.

He said he was thrilled to have it back, as it was signed by his musical hero Allan Holdsworth.

Decades had passed and it was long been presumed lost forever before Mr Bartlett received a message from a man in Cleveland Ohio who said he discovered Mr Bartlett’s name on the guitar he thought had belonged to a friend who had recently died.


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Doug O’Dell, a luthier (maker of string instruments), was tinkering with the guitar when he saw Mr Bartlett’s name under the bridge. He searched Google, and the guitar will soon be reunited with its original owner.

“It’s a hell of a story that I only have part of,” Mr O’Dell told Mr Bartlett when he tracked him down through Facebook.

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