It's not a violin, but musician says stolen bass guitar is "a Stradivarius to me"

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- It's not quite the theft of a priceless violin -- but a rare instrument has been taken, and a Milwaukee musician is asking for help.

Guitar shop owners say musicians can be a target for thieves. They carry around expensive items -- and at times, they leave them unattended -- which can offer thieves a golden opportunity.

Some of the music on Milwaukee's East Side was silenced around May 8th.

Before then, a musician was playing once a week at a popular restaurant near Downer and Belleview.

"Kinda a bass player at heart, so I have a special affinity for that bass," Ethan Keller said.

Keller stored the instrument in a nearby basement off and on for more than a year.

"In general, I thought it was a safe place to keep it," Keller said.

Jeff Benske with the Top Shelf Guitar Shop was notified through a special email network of re-sellers that Keller's guitar was stolen.

"He's actually worked on the bass before," Keller said.

"You hear about how it was stolen and you're like -- 'oh really?'" Benske said.

The bass guitar that was stolen is a limited-edition Suntech -- a bass guitar built overseas in the 1980s that is no longer produced.

"There is a collectible market for Japanese instruments. This is no Stradivarius (violin), but it's a very well-made Japanese bass," Benske said.

"My bass is not a Stradivarius, but it's kinda a Stradivarius to me," Keller said.

Benske estimates the bass guitar would cost about $600 to replace -- and that's money Keller -- a full-time musician can't string together at this time.

He's just hoping that someway, somehow, he can get his guitar back.

"If they would turn it into a music store anonymously -- out of the goodness of their heart so I can play it again, that would probably be the best outcome," Keller said.