Thursday, April 20, 2017


  Hey Folks,
     Aaron here, and I just wanted to share a bit with you about this guitar I've just finished.  It's the first guitar I've made, and it came about in an interesting way.  

     There's a company in my hometown of Detroit called Wallace Detroit Guitars, who makes guitars out of lumber from torn down Detroit buildings.  A lot of them are historical auto plants and the like, and they turn them into some really beautiful instruments, like this:

     Notice it's made from strips of lumber that are glued together.  In traditional guitar making, the goal is to hide all that.  To make it look like one piece of wood if possible.  I really liked how these guys went the opposite way and showed off what the guitar was made of.

    Well, I've wanted one of these for a long time, but at about $2500 (for the model I wanted anyway) I had to put it on hold.  

     Then it hit me one day.  My grandmother, Eileen had died a few years back and left me a piece of furniture, a buffet that sat in her kitchen as long as I've been alive, and probably the 50 years preceding.  I had tried restoring it a few years back, but parts of it were just too warped, and to replace panels with modern wood would have stuck out and ruined any value it had.  When I moved into my Airstream, I disassembled it and held on the the wood, thinking I'd make something special out of it one day.  

    This past January, I dug up the wood and started plotting on how I'd pull it off.  I cut the main tabletop into strips, and off I went.  The first cut into that wood smelled exactly like my grandmothers house did.  It was awesome.


     I wanted to find a way to incorporate those trim pieces into the front.  They're pretty long so as it started to come together, I realized this thing would have to have a longer body than any guitar I had.  I roughly traced the outline of my Les Paul, but quickly realized I'd need to add a few inches to keep the pattern.  

     I drew out the shape, numbered the pieces, and started gluing, hollowing out, and sanding.  So much sawdust. 

     I started ordering parts at this point, thinking I might actually pull this off.  It had to look good if I was going to show it to my family and tell them this is what I do with priceless family heirlooms.  I bought the neck from a company in the midwest who did a great job.   I wanted a beefy, Gibson-style neck with "3&3" tuners.  A fender-style headstock would have looked dinky.   For pickups, I chose a Seymour Duncan reproduction of the 59 Les Paul humbuckers.  Even if the wood didn't do the work, they would give me enough tone to get by.

     Next was something I'd never seen done before.  My main stage guitar is an Eric Clapton "Blackie" strat that I got straight from Fender via my buddy Jay Boy Adams.  It has this really cool active mid-boost circuit that I find so handy on stage.  No need for pedals, just overdrive the shit out of whatever amp you're plugged into and you've got instant crunch.  I bought another set of those electronics and combined it with those 59 humbuckers.  Holy crap, I love the sound this thing puts out.  

     Obviously I'm skipping a LOT of steps here, mostly because if you're not a guitar player or a woodworker, I'm sure your attention is already waning.  I'm really thrilled with the outcome, and I've played it at several shows so far and it's been great.  I hope Granny is proud up there, and the family seems to approve.