Waco Vintage Instruments

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One of the largest bluegrass instrument selections in the State of Texas

John Brinkmann was the epitome of taking a hobby and turning it into a career. But not just any career; a passion.

Brinkmann learned to play guitar at the young age of 11 in Estherville, Iowa. Back then, he played a Hawaiian guitar.

Years later (with guitar in tow), Brinkmann married and relocated to St. Clouds, Minnesota, where he attended St. Johns University.

A college degree led to a career with 3M in Minnesota where he worked side by side with inventor Dick Drew—the inventor of Scotch tape.

Brinkmann moved the family to Waco, Texas, and spent 22 years working for Success Motivation Institute, eventually rising to National Sales Manager. Brinkmann was instrumental in developing the first spoken word cassette tape, now a multi-billion dollar industry (books on tape).

While living in Waco, Brinkmann became a collector of Gretsch guitars. His collection led to buying, selling and trading a variety guitars and other stringed instruments, which led to opening the original Waco Vintage Guitars in College Station, Texas, in 1987 and managed by his daughter.

In 1978, Brinkmann formed the Greater Southwest Guitar Show with Charley Wirz and Danny Thorpe. Together they launched America's first national guitar show.

In 1981, Brinkmann formed Texas Guitar Shows, Inc., produced two shows and added current partners and veteran guitar dealers Larry Briggs (Strings West, Tulsa, OK), and Dave Crocker (Fly-By-Night Music, Neosho, MO). Eugene Robertson (Eugene's Guitars Plus, Dallas, TX) was added as a partner a few years later and the 4 Amigos were born.

Some 150 shows later, the 4 Amigos guitar shows are still known for their smooth-running organization, tight security and the abundance of foreign and domestic buyers. The Arlington, Texas show, "Guitarlington", remains the world's largest consumer guitar event and is considered by many exhibitors to be the show to attend. In 2018, Guitarlington was moved to its new, larger location in Fort Worth, Texas and re-branded as the Amigo International Guitar Show.

In 1993, Brinkmann moved his College Station store to Mansfield, Texas, where it remained until its closing in February, 2014.

Brinkmann passed away October 8, 2013.

Waco Vintage Instruments continues operate as a private collection. To see the inventory, contact Robert via email at to schedule an appointment.


Check out The 4 Amigos Texas Guitars Shows — the nation's largest guitar show producer
Fort Worth, TX • Chicago, IL •  Nashville, TN
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