Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

March 7, 2014

Musician seeks return of ‘Achy Breaky’ bass

Holbrook offering $1,000 reward for instrument

Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — Musician Corky Holbrook says he doesn’t have much hope of ever seeing his one-of-a-kind Fender bass guitar ever again, although he hopes the worldwide musician’s network will help him keep an eye out for the instrument.

“I have come to accept that it is gone and I will probably never see it again. Now the person who has it needs to know its history,” Holbrook said. “It was made for me by Fender Guitars. When I got my Fender endorsement deal they offered to make me any bass that I wanted. I chose this one, specially made for me. It was a one of a kind and it will be hard to hide.”

As Holbrook and other members of Billy Ray Cyrus’ band rode the success of “Achy Breaky Heart,” the bassist said a representative of Fender Musical Instruments offered an endorsement deal including creation of any bass he desired. He asked for a bass combining the neck of the company’s “Jazz” model and the body of a Fender “Precision,” with electronics and hardware identical to a 1962 model. Fender delivered a perfectly tuned and intonated tobacco-sunburst finish (“orange into brown into black at the edges”) instrument with serial number V061100.

“Everything about it was vintage. I wanted that sound,” Holbrook said, explaining his choice of the 1962-era electronics installed in his bass.

The bass should be easy for practicing musicians and collectors to recognize, Holbrook said, although he fears it will fall into the hands of someone who won’t realize the “Precision” and “Jazz” parts were intentionally paired up at the Fender factory.

“I fear some kid will get it and think it is a Franken-bass — a Frankenstein with a bunch of different parts thrown together, and not know what it is,” he said.

Describing his ongoing shock at the situation, Holbrook said he last held the bass last summer, when he mistakenly carried it to a local recording studio and then set it aside. In the time since, an opportunistic thief removed the rare instrument from the vintage-style case and carried it away.

Holbrook said he realized something was wrong when a studio official called to ask about the empty case.

“I still wake up at night thinking about it. I’m still reacting to it. I guarantee it will end up in some drug transaction somewhere,” Holbrook said, struggling to elaborate upon the personal and sentimental value such an instrument can have for its owner.

“I mean ... I had that bass longer than all of my marriages put together,” he said, estimating the instrument’s real-world value somewhere between $4,000 and $5,000.

“But, you can’t put a price on that. It’s one of a kind and Fender made it for me,” he said, adding he continues to offer a $1,000 reward for the instrument’s safe return.

“No questions asked,” he said. “They can go through anyone who knows me.”

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.