‘American Pickers’: Rick Nielsen Once Gave Away One of His Guitars for Free

by Taylor Cunningham

On one episode of American Pickers, Mike Wolfe didn’t have to use his hard bargaining skills to score one of Rick Nielsen’s guitars.

In a season eight episode of American Pickers, Mike and Frank took a trip to Rick’s Picks museum in Rockford, Illinois. The building is filled with Cheap Trick classic rock memorabilia. And lead singer Rick Nielsen is the museum’s namesake. What the guys didn’t know was that Rick Nielsen was actually at the museum that day.

While Mike and Frank were gawking over rock and roll treasures, Nielsen strolled over to say “hello.” And a surprised Mike didn’t act as cool as he hoped. He likened himself to a “little schoolgirl who saw Elvis Presley” for the first time.

But Mike and Frank are celebrities in their own right, so the singer was a little starstruck himself. And he asked the guys to check out some more mementos in a warehouse outback. The warehouse was a picker’s haven. And once the guys were inside, they spotted a checkerboard guitar that they just had to have.

Mike immediately started throwing offers at Rick Nielsen, but he turned them all down. And just when it seemed like all hope was lost, Nielsen surprised him with an amazing deal. Nielsen told Mike that he could have the guitar for free—under one condition. And that condition actually made for an even sweeter deal.

Nielsen donated the guitar to Mike’s Antique Archeology shop with the promise that Nielsen could stop by and play it whenever he visited Nashville, TN.

‘American Pickers’ Star Danielle Colby Reveals ‘Key’ to Finding ‘Treasures’ While Picking

According to American Pickers star Danielle Colby, it’s easy to be a successful picker. You just need to learn how to do your research.

If you’re a fan of American Pickers, you probably think that Mike Wolfe has a lot of luck when he picks old homes, barns, and buildings. But in reality, he’s not stumbling upon treasures by happenstance. Mike and his team actually do a lot of research before heading out for a pick.

Antique Archeology’s manager, Danielle Colby, does a lot of the prep work for the series. And while chatting with The Sailor Jerry Podcast, she explained how it works.

“The key is to do your research before you get there,” she revealed. “I realize how I sound because all I do is research places before I go. But this is why, because it’s my job.”

Danielle says that newspapers are the best resources for budding pickers. And since they’re all published online these days, they’re free and accessible. And she also suggests that people don’t just stick to picking estate sales. Instead, be on the lookout for swap meets, flea markets, and vintage sales. And vintage sales are her favorite stops.

“I would say wherever you are, just Google vintage markets,” Danielle shared. “That’s the easiest way to do it. Those are the people who are going to tell you where to go. You can buy from them as well. Of course, support them. But those are the people who will tell you where to go.”