David Belzer has always had a love of guitars, and it is this love of guitars that has made him into one of the top vintage guitar specialists in the world. Learning to play guitar by the age of 10, graduating with a degree in music at 21, owning his own music store at 23, then working as the head vintage guitar buyer for a large retail music chain for 21 years, he is now working together with his partner, Drew Berlin, collectively known as The Burst Brothers, as a vintage guitar specialist.
Dave was born in Bethpage, NY and grew up in Long Island. He got his first guitar at age 6, but didn’t actually start to take it seriously until age 10. He was influenced by all the music he heard growing up during the mid to late 60’s but it was Cream and Eric Clapton that got him interested in specific guitars. In 1970, he got his first electric guitar, inspired by Clapton after seeing Cream’s farewell performance on a TV special. Motivated by getting the guitars that he wanted to play at the time, he started buying and trading guitars.
Dave graduated from high school at the ripe old age of 16, and took a full time job at a local restaurant where he became a manager there by age 17. At 19 he attended Five Towns College in New York studying contemporary music and got his Associates degree in Music Performance. He began teaching guitar privately during the day, and playing in a band doing mostly original music at night.
While attending college, he met Lee Rocker. They became friends and Lee invited Dave to join their band, since their former guitarist Brian Setzer had recently left. Dave joined the remaining members Erick Thorson, Slim Jim Phantom, Lee Rocker and Lee’s sister Rosanne, and from 1978 to 1980, the band played the New York club circuits, opening for a number of well known acts. The band broke up when Brian Setzer got an offer to go to England and took Jim and Lee with him, giving birth to the Stray Cats.
In 1982, Dave bought The Music Mart, the store where he had been teaching, and that’s when he got serious about buying and seling guitars. Weeks after he bought the store, he traded his way into his first 1959 Les Paul sunburst. He continued to teach, play and work the store for the next six years.
In 1988 he decided to make a change, sold the store and moved to California. He went to work for Guitar Center and within a few months he worked his way up to assistant store manager of the flagship store in Hollywood CA, the largest guitar store in the world at that time. He began handling the Vintage guitar business for the Hollywood store and with his previous buying and selling experience it was a perfect fit. In 1995, they opened the Hollywood Vintage Room, and Dave was asked to head it up. He met Drew when he came to work for Guitar Center a few months later. They worked well together, with their first joint sale being a 1959 Les Paul, and soon afterward they formed a band and became known as “The Burst Brothers”. Dave also played guitar with performer Ebony Tay for some local Los Angeles performances and traveled with her to open for the Bacon Brothers and Hall and Oates in Cannes, France. He still joins Drew for Burst Brothers performances, and is currently playing guitar with singer songwriter Cheryl Brewster, as well as doing a commercial studio session from time to time.
Together Dave and Drew became a driving force in the vintage guitar market, and they became two of the most well known and reputable vintage dealers in the world. While working as the Head Vintage Guitar Buyer for Guitar Center, it was Dave who won Eric Clapton’s “Blackie” Fender Stratocaster, for the record setting price of $959,500 as well as the Cream guitar, a Gibson ES335, and Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Lenny” Fender Stratocaster at the historic Christie’s Crossroads Auction.
Dave continued as the Head Vintage Buyer for Guitar Center until 2010, when he left to pursue a career as an independent Vintage Guitar Specialist.