Buckle rash. We all know what it is, but opinions about it vary. A belt buckle or jean studs can disfigure (some would say “relic”) the back and edges of a guitar in short order. Many believe that it renders an instrument less than desirable while others regard rash as a badge of honor. The sight of an otherwise pristine relic from mid-century American music lore made less than perfect by a former owner’s lack of compassion, and their desire to keep their trousers from falling down can make you shake your head.
Today I saw a video of Joe Walsh onstage in the 1970s brandishing a fine example of a late ’50s burst—his gigantic concho belt sawing its way through the old-growth mahogany like the Colorado river creating the Grand Canyon. It made me both cringe and smile. Then it hit me. The revenge of the guitar.
My Georgia Pine Project #1 guitar has a pair of tooling holes drilled through its back that were used to create the router tooling. I didn’t want to pretend like they weren’t there, so I just carried on with the build. But as I watched the Walsh video, it dawned on me that perhaps it was time for the guitar to fight back. In the 1980’s I’d designed stud-laden guitars for KK Downing and Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, but the idea of putting the cart before the horse on my new guitar was just too tempting, and I had just the weapon.
Every day I wear my tough as nails Levi’s work shirt—I have a closet full of these iconic and practically indestructible black shirts. The one shortcoming they possess is they have metal studs for buttons. On a few of my shirts, I have removed the cuff buttons because they can interfere with sanding and polishing—clanking and scratching while I’m attempting to make things nice and neat. I wondered, what if the guitar was outfitted with its own set of molesting buttons? The shoe would be on the other foot, so to speak.
Right then and there, I grabbed some cutters and snipped the iconic Levi’s studs from the very shirt I had on. What great inlays they will make on the back of the guitar! The lucky person who gets this instrument had better be careful what they wear because it will be armed to fight back.
The chips are flying and the lacquer is wafting through the air in the workshop as I press onward with my series of Artist’s Proof guitars. These are basically prototypes—all different. The first examples are now entering the painting stage, and include the first two of the Georgia Pine guitars.
The second GP is all pine with a maple neck. As with the first, the fingerboard is rosewood with pearl dots and a seven-piece “claw” inlay at the 12th fret.
These instruments are insanely light in weight, and I can’t wait to hear them sing. Although they are routed for humbuckers, I intend to use single coil pickups in the neck position. The airy and open sound of the pine should match up nicely with what I have in mind.
At the moment there are ten different A/P guitars in progress, and although a few have been spoken for, there are still some available for purchase. Contact me to discuss the details—this is a great opportunity to get what amounts to a one-off guitar at “Team Built” pricing.
One of the things I’ve wanted to incorporate in my designs is an old-school type of relief carving sometimes called the German carve. While at Hamer I couldn’t really do it because it was not in the “Hamer tradition” as it was called. The closest I came was with the Monaco guitars, which featured a more radical scallop at the edge. But in my shop, I make the rules, so I’m making a few Artist Proof instruments to see how it looks on a Dantzig guitar. What do you think?
The resurgence of the so-called “German carve” is an interesting development in the world of guitar fashion. Traditionally used on furniture, I first noticed it on the Mosrite Ventures models I lusted for in my 1960s youth. Actually, it was quite popular with European guitar builders (mostly in Germany and Italy) where a man named Roger Rosemeissl grew up working in his father’s guitar shop.
Eventually, Rossmeissl came to America and began working at Rickenbacker, where he designed a number of instruments in the late 1950s. A few of his designs featured the carved relief technique he had learned at home in Germany. Later, Semie Moseley would work alongside Rossmeissl at Rickenbacker before striking out on his own. Moseley’s new company was named Mosrite, and he carried the European carving over to his designs for the Ventures.
Today, all things old are new again so it doesn’t surprise me that the scalloped appearance of the German carve would appeal to a new audience. For me, it is a tip of the hat to some of my guitar-building heroes—and to the Ventures model guitar I dreamed of owning when I first started playing guitar. I can’t wait to finish these new instruments.
There will soon be a small number of unique and interesting “Artist Proof” Tulsa guitars available for purchase.
Work on the Tulsa models continues with a major streamlining of the workspaces in the shop. Beacause the Dantzig guitars (as opposed to the Signature models) are team built, I needed to create fixturing and work process standards that all of us can follow.
Right now in order to test the tooling I am personally building a few guitars in very different configurations, including alder, mahogany pine and Limba bodies, spalted maple, German carve flame tops and full Korina guitars.
A couple of these instruments will have maple necks with rosewood fingerboards.
This is a fun and satisfying part of the process as I explore options beyond the stock Tulsa specifications.
This group of guitars will help me decide on future configurations for the Tulsa model. For right now, these are “Artist’s Proofs” which I will offer for sale after I get a chance to evaluate them. This is an excellent opportunity for some of you to acquire a rare version of my Tulsa model. If you are interested in grabbing one of these guitars, contact me directly.
Here’s one from the archives, as published by Premier Guitar magazine. I like how the publisher and editors allow me the freedom to express my love for every aspect of my guitar and craftsmanship obsession. This one is about factories closing down.