So you really think you want one?


These unique creations pictured above show up in many pics from Reeves Gabrels and David Bowie's Tin Machine days.  Many stories have been floating around about who's idea they were and how they were made.  Contrary to the prevailing myth Gabrels, not Bowie, should rightfully get the credit for their inspiration.  And for those who think they'd be one wild axe read on. . .

Gabrels was kind enough to detail them, the email text of which which we've copied unedited below:

the true story goes like this. . .

the chromed 'berger was my idea, not bowie's. nor did he order it. i believe i spoke directly to ned and pat (who went on to brian moore guitars, i believe) when it was ordered by me. ned should remember. i appreciate your fanzine worthy fantasy that bowie "ordered" them because he thought they "would look great onstage". it is simply totally false.

at that point david was not even aware that i was having a special instrument made. i came up with the idea because i wanted a distinctive guitar to use for a video we did for a song called "one shot", the first single from the second tin machine album. also, the L series is small and i am 6ft and 190lbs so i thought that for live use it would make that guitar stand out.

unfortunately, they didn't really chrome it but covered it with a chrome/silver mylar and put a sealer on the entire guitar... frets included. every time i bent a note it scraped some chrome slivers off. eventually i scraped enuff of that off so i could play it (but the mylar made it impossible to bend notes on it). plus (and you can tell rob turner at emg) my pickups were simply painted silver.

i used it only once ... live on ABC "in concert" filmed at L.A.X. on 1 song only. luthier and friend danny ferrington put black nubbed fret dots on the side of the guitar neck so i could see and feel it. even if it had been a really playable instrument stage lighting would have made it impossible to use. it just became my $1800 (that's what it cost me) video and TV miming prop.

david saw mine and decided he wanted one like it. my guitar tech, andy spray, called the factory in newburgh to see if they could make another chrome L series. apparently, they had a guitar they used as a test run for the chroming process. that one had a normal fretboard (it did not have a chromed fretboard) making bowie's copycat completely playable while mine was not. the non chromed fretboard is the easiest way to tell them apart.

oh and another thing. his was free...

his originally had a chrome trans trem but it stopped returning to pitch a month into touring and so my tech, andrew spray, replaced it for him. i used to go thru about three trans trems on every tour so we carried a few spares. i still have a box of busted ones (including bowie's)

there was never a chrome bass. 1st tin machine tour tony sales endorsed b.c. rich, 2nd tour he endorsed vigier.

my chrome L-series guitar now hangs in the Shanghai Hard Rock. db, hunt sales and tony sales and myself all signed it at the end of the second tour and then i retired it. a few years later i sold it to them as reeves' chrome L-series steinberger. unfortunately, by all reports, the hard rock has it displayed as bowie's.

reeves gabrels

And there you have it - the official story behind the famous chrome GL's!