Tulsa Guitars: Studs’ Revenge

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.

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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.

backburst

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.

Cutting Button

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.

Iconic Levi’s Stud Buttons
Iconic Levi’s Stud Buttons

Here’s the Walsh video:

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Jol

Jol Dantzig is a guitar builder, designer, writer and filmmaker. He has worked for Gibson, Fender, Guild, Ovation, Gretsch, and was a founding partner of Hamer guitars—one of the first boutique custom guitar brands.

Dantzig’s work has been played by hundreds of artists including Sting, Steve Stevens, Larry Coreyell, Dug Pinnick, Billy Gibbons, Keb Mo’, Nick Lowe, KK Downing, Glenn Tipton, John Abercrombie, Glen Campbell, Rick Nielsen, Kenny Vaughan, Lita Ford, James Honeyman Scott, Elliott Easton, Andy Summers, Peter Frampton, Martin Barre, Lyle Workman, Brad Gillis, George Harrison, Jeff Ament, Dweezil Zappa, Jeff Tweedy, Nancy Wilson—and many others.