Peter “Max” Baranet—the Man Behind the Hunterburst?
Rist argues that the Hunterburst, although not played on Appetite for Destruction, deserves a significant place in rock ’n’ roll history.
“The Hunterburst carried a lot of weight because it was owned by a rock star who, in my opinion, had contributed greatly to the music scene,” Rist says. “Steve Hunter is the real deal. So here’s the guitar that went from the old guard to the new guard. That’s the one that got him [Slash] hooked. The seed for his Les Paul addiction, becoming the Les Paul icon that he is, is the Hunterburst.”
But, as was mentioned previously, the Hunterburst wasn’t a Gibson. It was a replica. Steve Hunter says it was built by luthier Peter “Max” Baranet, who friends and clients typically refer to simply as Max. Howie Hubberman says the instrument was built by Baranet. So does Roman Rist.
Baranet himself? He’s not so sure. In written statements and telephone interviews, Baranet won’t confirm or deny that the Hunterburst is one of his instruments.
“Yeah, I don’t remember it,” he says. “There’s people that remember it being in my shop and stuff. But there was a lot of stuff going on in those days, you know. A lot of guitar building and a lot of people running through.”
The volume of Baranet’s work was indeed staggering. “One year that I was at Image Guitars, I had assembled or custom made over 150 guitars,” he recalls. “Singlehandedly. So, you know what I’m saying— [it’s] one single guitar. I’m not going to remember everything.”
Serial numbers and markings for replica instruments of the day were not standardized and provide little help in solving the mystery. Baranet says he sometimes used customers’ birthdays, sometimes even Social Security numbers and other combinations of digits.
Despite Baranet’s reluctance to claim the Hunterburst, his former colleague Rist is convinced Baranet built it.
“I worked with Max so long I know how he does things,” Rist states. “There are certain little trademark things I can use to spot a Max from a mile away. There are other trademarks with the way he does his routing. If I open it up, I can go, ‘Yep, this is a Max.’”