Skip to main content

Frank Hannon tells the story behind his signature Gibson Love Dove acoustic

Frank Hannon
(Image credit: Gibson)

Tesla guitarist Frank Hannon has enjoyed a long personal and professional relationship with Gibson – he first visited the company’s factory in 1987, picking up an EDS-1275 double neck and an Epiphone acoustic in the process – but it wasn’t until this year that he finally received his very own signature model, the limited-edition Love Dove

“It’s an honor to have finally made this happen,” Hannon says about the signature acoustic guitar.

As for why he opted to collaborate with Gibson on a Dove, Hannon explains that the model holds a special place in his heart.

For starters, he played a '70s-era cherry-finished Dove, which he calls his “favorite acoustic ever” and which has since been lost, to record classic Tesla songs like What You Give, as well as to perform the version of the band’s signature acoustic ballad, Love Song that appears on their 2002 Time’s Makin’ Changes DVD. 

In an interesting twist, there’s also a special story behind the Love Dove on the Gibson side of things.

“The first time I ever met [current Gibson CMO] Cesar Gueikian, he had a guitar and he was playing my little acoustic intro part from Love Song,” Hannon recalls. “It turned out that he and his wife really loved the song, and they had used it in their wedding. I couldn't believe it.”

He continues, “That coincidence, in combination with that missing-in-action '70s Dove being my favorite-sounding acoustic, led us to decide to create this guitar together.”

Gibson Love Dove

(Image credit: Gibson)

In terms of aesthetics, the new Love Dove’s striking Vintage Cherry Sunburst finish instantly harks back to Hannon’s long-lost model. From there, the new acoustic is outfitted with a host of custom features, including a thermally aged Sitka spruce top paired with maple back and sides, an ideal combination in Hannon’s estimation.

“The thermal aging opens up the wood and makes the guitar sound and feel like a 40-year-old instrument,” he says. “And because maple is a dense wood, the notes really pop when you’re playing lines or arpeggios.”

Other features on the Love Dove include a '70s-era bridge with scalloped wings and mother-of-pearl inlays, a Dove pickguard with hand-engraved and painted details and a truss cover inscribed with the word “Love” in Hannon’s own handwriting. 

Hannon has already been putting a prototype Love Dove through its paces, employing it in the studio for Tesla’s recent Five Man London Jam recording, a 30th-anniversary homage to the band’s landmark Five Man Acoustical Jam album. He can also be seen holding it in the cover photo for the album, shot during the recording sessions at Abbey Road Studios.

“The Love Dove is my best-feeling and -sounding acoustic guitar, for sure, and I’m so proud of the way it turned out,” Hannon says. “So I’ll definitely be using it a lot more on future records. And it’s such a trip the way this all happened. It’s been a real dream.”