Taking a break from his band Staind, singer-songwriter Aaron Lewis calls his solo-acoustic tour "Have Guitar, Will Travel." But a more apt title would be "Have a Couple of Really Awesome Guitars, Will Travel." 

Despite a personal collection of "over 60 guitars, and most of them Gibsons," Lewis takes to the stage to perform his brooding, metaphysical Staind hits and similarly themed covers (Tool's "Sober" is a constant) with just two of his most treasured models, a Gibson 1950 J-45 and a 1951 Southern Jumbo. "Those are the crown jewels," Lewis says. "I don't think I could go out in front of audiences and do the intimate kind of show I do without those guitars. They provide the perfect accompaniment to my voice. The deep resonance from each of those guitars--when you hear them ring out, with their sound bouncing off the walls of the theaters, it's just staggering. Sometimes I think I don't even have to sing. Let these guitars do my singing for me!"

The Massachusetts native's passion for Gibson guitars started early. "I was 13 or so when I bought my one; it was a 1957 LGO. I think people called it a 'student guitar,' because it was a good instrument to learn the basics on." As Lewis became more obsessed with music, his guitars of choice became something of a no-brainer: "One day I made an important realization: Gibson meant rock 'n' roll. End of story. Whether you're doing acoustic or electric rock, Gibson is the foundation for the majority of the greatest music every played. The sound the guitars make is so identifiable. Put it this way: You can plug a Les Paul into a good amp and you know you're going to get a fantastic sound. Plug another guitar into that same amp and don't change the settings, and you're going to wind up with a totally different sound; and, most likely, it won't be as good."

Vintage models of sometimes curious provenance make up the bulk of Lewis's impressive collection: "I just naturally gravitate towards older things. You name it, if it's old, I'm fascinated. What's great about guitars, though, is that if you take care of them, they improve with age--Gibsons especially." Among his acoustics, Lewis has a few faves: "I have a beautiful 1936 Jumbo J-35. Gibson made it for only a very short time; it was the precursor to the J-45. Then I have a 1943 J-45 with a mahogany top, which has a very big voice and sounds quite amazing. I've got a 1947 J-45 and two or three 1950s models, as well." He laughs, losing track of his mental inventory. "Boy, I can't remember them all. Let's just say I've got a lot of guitars!"

Of Lewis's electrics, he singles out a 1956 Les Paul Goldtop as his pride and joy. "That one's the centerpiece, the '56," he says. "Such a work of art. I could stare at it for hours." He also owns a 1968 Goldtop that was routed out for humbuckers before he bought it. "I put 1959 PAFs (pickup) in it, and it sounds brilliant." Lewis also ranks his "five or six" 1981 and 1982 Heritage Series Les Pauls as "brutally fantastic guitars."

And where did Lewis procure many of these drool-worthy purchases? What sought-after guitar-buyer-to-the stars did he employ? "eBay!" he says with a laugh. "You wouldn't believe what fantastic guitars you can find there. I do like going into guitar stores, and being on tour I find a lot of them, but when I'm in my hotel room and it's the middle of the night, hey, eBay is just a click away."