New Brunswick

Elvis replica guitar returned, but without his drummer's treasured signature

It was a moment of relief for Josh Bravener this week when the Fredericton police called. They'd found his father's stolen replica guitar, the one signed by Elvis Presley's drummer.

Mike Bravener's beloved Elvis replica guitar is back where it belongs, but it's not the same

Mike Bravener spoke with D.J. Fontana before picking up the guitar. He hopes Fontana will be able to sign the guitar again, and maybe play with him. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

It was a moment of relief for Josh Bravener this week as the family sat around the dinner table and the phone rang.

Fredericton police were calling to say they'd found his father's stolen replica guitar.

The guitar, just like one Elvis Presley played at times, was an Epiphone AJ 200 and signed by sometime Presley drummer D.J. Fontana.

Bravener had borrowed the guitar from his father to take on tour in Ontario, only to discover it stolen before the trip began.

Not quite the same

On Thursday, Mike Bravener, Josh's dad and an Elvis Presley tribute artist, picked up the treasured guitar from the Fredericton Police Force.

But the instrument had been altered in a fairly significant way since it disappeared more than a month ago.

Fontana's autograph had been erased, and only a faint outline of it remained.

Mike, however, was just happy to have it back, and tears filled his eyes as he held the guitar again and began strumming.

Before going to the police station, he said, he spoke with Fontana to let him know the guitar was found.

This guitar was like one Elvis Presley played and was signed by drummer D. J. Fontana, who played with Presley. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

Fontana, a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame​r, has some health problems, but Bravener hopes the two men will be able to sing together again. And that Fontana can sign the guitar once more.

Bravener remembered being onstage with Fontana in Miramichi.

"I'm sitting right next to him," he said. "I called him today just to thank him and say D.J. you changed my life."

Stolen from their home

Music runs in the Bravener family. Josh is the leader singer of the Hypochondriacs from Fredericton.

The guitar was part of many shows by his father, and Josh was thinking he'd build memories of his own if he took it on tour.

"I didn't have room for all the gear, plus the drums in my car, so I took the acoustic guitar out to count my losses, and I stuck it in my brother's house," Josh said.

He and his brother Aaron share a house in Fredericton, which had already been broken into once before.

"When I went to go pick it up the next day, it was gone."

Mike Bravener strummed the guitar, which was slightly out of tune, after picking it up at the Fredericton police station. (Kirk Pennell/CBC )

The guitar was eventually found in a local pawn shop. Fredericton police said they couldn't talk about their investigation.

"Some guy bought it, went home, looked in the newspaper or Facebook or whatever and said, 'I just bought that guitar with the signature on it with its case' and turned it into the police," Josh said.

He said he doesn't know the value of the guitar but thought the Fontana signature would be worth thousands of dollars.

A sense of guilt stayed with him each day the guitar was missing.

"It was all my fault so I had this pressure on me the whole time and was like, 'if I had never just left it at that house it wouldn't have gotten stolen.' So selfishly I'm very relieved."

A thank you

It took a while for him to tell his father the guitar was gone, but the conversation went well.

"My dad's a really nice man," he said. "He was mad at the situation, he wasn't mad at me. I thought he was going to be really mad because this guitar was on tour with Elvis's drummer and signed by Elvis's drummer."

Mike Bravener said he has no reward for the person who turned in the guitar, only a thank you.

His advice to those who lose something is simple.

"You've got memories that no one can ever take," he said. "Cherish the people in your life and love 'em."

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