Long lost guitar returns home after 30+ years

EMPORIA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Over three decades have passed since Cal Denison, a Joplin, Missouri musician, pawned away his beloved Gretsch guitar.

His parents bought him the Gretsch when he was 17. 12 years later, his daughter broke her glasses and he was forced to pawn the guitar to be able to afford new ones.

“I remember I really hated to lose it,” Denison said. “I went back and they wouldn't give me the information of where it went or anything when I finally got to where I could afford to get it.”

Denison said he looked on the internet and at several other pawn and music shops.

He said he had almost given up hope, but his luck would soon change keys.

Jack Sensintaffer, who lives in Emporia, had seen the guitar in the pawn shop all those years ago, and bought it.

"I loved that guitar. That was my favorite,” Sensintaffer said. “It's just the way it feels and plays, it takes a guitar player to understand that. It just has a certain character."

When Sensintaffer bought it, the strap still had Denison’s name on it. One day, he decided to look up the original owner.

"With the internet like it is today, I googled him and found him," Sensintaffer said.

At first, he just returned the strap, but after seeing Denison’s reaction, the pair discussed a trade for a cheaper guitar.

Denison said Sensintaffer told him, “Only a guitar player would understand this, but I've babysat that guitar for 35 years. It’s your guitar, I don't want any difference. I just want you to have it back.”

"He sat here on this chair and started playing that thing and the look on his face,” Sensintaffer said. “He was playing it and it was like old friends. Like he had never been away from it or something. It's got god's hand all over it."

“It makes me feel good,” Denison said. “Sometimes I just sit here and look at it."

The two have remained friends and have kept in touch ever since the trade. Denison said he plans to keep the guitar in the family.