From left: Taylor T5, Rickenbacker 4001C64S, and Gibson Les Paul Standard Bass. Photograph by Ian Castañares & Paul del Rosario
Culture Music

LOOK! Music icons from Ka Freddie to Mike Hanopol reveal their prized guitars

Five of the country’s greatest guitarists and their prized possessions 
Zsaris Mendioro | Sep 03 2019

Taylor T5

Acoustic-electric guitar

Purchased by Freddie Aguilar in 2008
Made in the United States

The songwriting legend has more than 30 guitars but his Taylor T5 sums up Freddie Aguilar’s guitar preferences in one unit. Aguilar acquired his limited edition Taylor for USD 4,800 dollars, admitting that it was a huge investment but too difficult not to grab. It gives the player the experience of having five guitars in one, hence the name Taylor 5. It can be warm like an

acoustic guitar or punchy like an electric thanks to its three pickups on the neck, bridge, and body. The hollow-bodied beauty can simulate various tones, even from signature acoustic and electric guitars. Not only does it have a classic look, the T5 is also easy to use and is designed to get the most out of one’s playing. Aguilar displays some of his guitars, but he keeps his T5 with him to play.


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Steinberger TransTrem

Electric guitar

Purchased by Mike Hanopol in 1983
Made in the United States

Bassist Mike Hanopol, best known for being a member of the seminal Juan de la Cruz Band, used the unique headless electric guitar the Steinberger TransTrem when he began a solo career. Made in the 1980s, the guitar’s unusual design gave the player flexibility: the entire guitar could be transposed in one go without going off pitch as it kept notes in tune while activating the vibratos. Hanopol bought his from a Spanish friend for USD 1,200. He loved that the guitar had a special “grip and tonality” because of its shape, along with a graphite body and pickup. Steinberger has since phased out the TransTrem because it took time for guitarists to get used to the tuning keys set at the bridge instead of from the usual headstock. (Hanopol agrees.) Plus, the TT requires a special set of strings called the double ball and only a few manufacturers have this in stock.


Höfner Committee Hollow Body Archtop

Jazz guitar

Owned by  Teddy Diaz in the late 1980s
Made in the United States

The Dawn’s late guitarist Teddy Diaz left a piece of his musical legacy with the president of MCA Music, Ricky Ilacad. The vintage 1960s guitar is on display at Ilacad’s office in Ortigas, Pasig, a reminder of the brilliance of Diaz’s guitar playing. He memorably used a violin bow for his solos. Ilacad’s old record company OctoArts International signed The Dawn in 1986, bringing homegrown new wave music to a larger mainstream audience. It also started a friendship between both men. Diaz swapped his guitar for Ilacad’s book The Who: Maximum R&B. The two agreed to take care of each other’s prized possessions before Diaz’s untimely death in 1988. The Höfner had feedback problems from vibrating too much, which was why Diaz had no problem giving it up. But the guitar remains a piece of Pinoy rock memorabilia that is a reminder of Diaz’s pivotal contribution to local music.


Ernie Ball Music Man Sterling

Bass guitar

Purchased by  Buddy Zabala in 2012
Made in the United States

With The Dawn under new management, Buddy Zabala seriously wanted something to welcome this change in 2012. So, he got the Ernie Ball Music Man as a gift to himself, purchasing it for USD 1,400 during the Eraserheads North American Tour. Its distinct look is a sure standout during performances, but its versatility outmatches some of Zabala’s other guitars. The Music Man fits most genres of music and its smaller neck allows the player to shift to different notes faster.


Dame Fall & Paul 700

Bass guitar

Owned by Buddy Zabala since 2006
Made in Korea

Korean guitar brand Dame got Buddy Zabala as an endorser in the mid-2000s and gave him the Fall & Paul 700. It’s relatively cheaper than most guitars on the market but this is on par with or even greater than some of the better-known brands in terms of performance. Dame stopped selling in the Philippines, but Zabala kept using his Fall & Paul since its sound was well suited for The Dawn’s music. Apart from its sound, users can freely customize the tone with a built-in equalizer and toggles for active-passive pickups and middle EQ apart from the humbucker selection. Six years with the Dame and Zabala has never been happier with its performance.


Gibson Les Paul Standard Bass

Bass guitar

Owned by Buddy Zabala since 1997
Made in the United States

The iconic Gibson Les Paul Standard bass is a perfect match for Buddy Zabala, himself a member of two of the greatest Filipino rock bands of all time, Eraserheads and The Dawn. Zabala got his as a gift from wife Earnest, when Eraserheads made history after winning the Viewers’ Choice-Asia award at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1997. Nicknamed Debbie

by Zabala (for 80s pop singer Debbie Gibson), the guitar has a solid body and sound quality and has seen plenty of music action, including the Eraserheads North American Tour in 2012. Like the title of one of the

E-heads’ albums, Debbie is also “sticker happy”—a different design applied on the guitar for every tour or gig and then “very gently” peeled off afterwards.


Rickenbacker 4001C64S

Bass guitar

Purchased by Buddy Zabala in 1998
Made in the United States

This is another classic, a modern version of the bass Paul McCartney used with The Beatles in 1965. Though production of this model has been discontinued, Zabala has kept his well-maintained, just as he does his other bass guitars. While its wood finish is prone to discoloration and mold, they add to the vintage effect. Dubbed Ricki by Zabala, the guitar has a unique shape that is the envy of gear heads. Ricki stole the show during the historic Eraserheads Reunion Concert at the Mall of Asia Concert Grounds in 2009. Now, it sits in Zabala’s basement, a reminder of that very special night.


Modulus Quantum 5

Bass guitar

Purchased by Mon Legaspi in 2007
Made in the United States

The Modulus Quantum 5 can withstand the aggressive playing of Wolfgang’s bass player Mon Legaspi. Not a lot of players use a five-string, but Legaspi has been toying with the extra string even earlier with a Warwick Rockbass Streamer Neck Thru. But his Q5 is more “practical” because it’s versatile, travel-friendly, and light; it allows him to stand up and play for hours with ease. He got hold of his second-hand Quantum 5 for USD 2,999 during his four-month stint

in Singapore. He used to own three more bass guitars but the Q5 has the specs to endure the stresses of transport when the band is constantly on tour. Its graphite neck can handle warping without affecting the guitar. Graphite is also lighter and transmits sound faster than wood, resulting in a much more articulate sound. Plus, it adjusts well to the player’s dynamics.


Photographs by Ian Castañares & Paul del Rosario

This story originally appeared on Vault Magazine Issue 9 No 1 2013.