There are one-off guitars, and then there’s Luci. Built
in fall 2010 by Fender’s R&D department, this
Lucite guitar—Luci for short—is unlike any Fender-produced
instrument ever made. It was conceived for
NasH2O, a set of auctions to benefit Nashville musicians
without resources and insurance who lost their instruments
in the spring 2010 flood, and was filled with floodwater
from Nashville’s Cumberland River.
The guitar is essentially an Esquire. And its simple
design—besides conjuring the images and tones associated
with classic Nashville twang—allowed Fender’s designers
to craft channels so that the water flows through the
entire body when tilted.
Fender’s R&D team of Mike Bump, Scott Buehl, and
Josh Hurst designed and built the instrument using CNC
techniques to cut a block of Lucite with channels for the
electronics and water—not an easy task, as the material is
known to crack or melt if worked improperly. The guitar
was finished with a 1/4" thick slab Lucite back with a
special adhesive that essentially welded the two halves
together for a watertight seal. Once finished, the guitar
was filled with floodwater collected from a pond on a
farm that had been dry prior to the flood, and retained
the floodwater after the Cumberland receded.
Despite being filled with water, the guitar is fully
functional—though heavier than a standard guitar—and
stocked with Fender’s ‘50s reissue neck and hardware. It
features a ‘50s reissue one-piece maple neck with “skunk
stripe” truss rod fill, 7.25" fretboard radius with vintage-style
frets, vintage-style tuners, vintage Tele bridge
pickup with ‘50s style cloth wiring, vintage volume and
tone setup with Greasebucket tone circuit, a reverse control
plate (a common Nashville modification), and an
ashtray bridge cover.
How rare is Luci? Just ask the designer. “We build a
Lucite guitar every once in a great while, but I don’t recall
seeing—or even hearing of—anything filled with water,”
said Bump. “And the fact that it is actual water from the
flood, well, I can say for certain nothing like this has ever
come out of Fender.”
Luci is up for auction at nash2o.com
January 8, 2011.
A special thanks to Erica Erwin and photographer
Rusty Russell of NasH2O for providing photographs and
details on this unique instrument.