David writes from Canada: "Here in Amerique du Nord we get these late-night TV infomercials for guitars by this guy named Esteban. They are astonishingly terrible displays of shameless ludicrousity." Esteban appears on the Home Shopping Network. This is his homepage there, selling four types of guitar and two types of Esteban fragrance. HSN claim that Esteban is an "internationally reknowned guitar virtuoso." This brilliant feature by Gilbert Garcia from the Phoenix New Times tells a different story.
Esteban is actually Stephen Paul, the 58 year-old son of a steel worker from Pittsburgh. He first appeared on HSN in November 1999, and by July 2001 he was selling 56,000 CDs in a week. How did Stephen become Esteban? He spent an uncertain amount of time in the 1970s with Spanish guitar legend Andrés Segovia, who he claims gave him the name 'Esteban' (Spanish for Stephen). HSN say that Esteban "is one of the few guitarists in the world to earn the coveted endorsement of legendary master, Andres Segovia." That endorsement came when Segovia signed a book for Stephen, writing: "To Stephen Paul, who loves the guitar and the guitar loves him." Segovia died in 1987, so can't clear the matter up.
Stephen certainly is an 'award winning musician', but those awards both came at the 2004 Electronic Retailing Association Gala Awards where 'Esteban' won Best Male Presenter for an Infomercial and Best Live Shopping on-Air Guest.
So what about the guitars he sells on HSN and through this bizarre website (check out this page, headlined "Dildo Bike")?
UPDATE: This site is now dead - the Internet Archive mirror is here.
David has kindly provided a summary of reviews from Harmony Central: "I returned this guitar after the frets fell off. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND EVERYTHING HOLY..... DO NOT BUY THIS GUITAR"
"I cut my fingers on the frets. I had to spend Christmas morning in the emergency room getting stitches. The doctors looked at me like I was a complete lunatic, since I was covered in blood and paint from the fretboard, and screaming about how Esteban ruined my Christmas."
"I returned the entire package. They refunded me for two payments, but now they are using my Visa to take money out of my bank account again."
"My daughter bought it. She played it for a couple weeks. Then one day I arrived home from work and there it was hanging from a tree limb minus strings. She got so ticked off that she decided to turn it into a bird house. So far after 6 weeks in the tree no birds have moved in, but there is bird crap all over it."