After returning from a recent tour with his band With the Punches, guitarist Dustin Wallace acknowledged that his old knockoff Les Paul was on its last legs, so he took to eBay and Craigslist in search of a replacement. Doing so, he remembered hearing about a designer named Leah Culver who needed a new laptop and had companies buy advertising space on the computer’s lid to cover her expenses. In an effort to avoid the corporate route and stay in line with his band’s DIY ethos, Wallace decided to see if he could get a similar type of response using his Tumblr account.
“I wanted this to be something personal between me and the friends, family, and fans who donated,” says Wallace. “After getting a $1500 quote for the Warmoth guitar parts and laser engraving I wanted, I figured I could comfortably fit 100 names—at $15 a piece—on the top of the guitar without running into a major issue.”
As for the guitar itself, it’s a left-handed, Les Paul-style single-cut with a Seymour Duncan Invader in the bridge position. “I went for the Invader because my bass player, Sam Hecht, recommended it,” says Wallace. “He’s very much my go-to guy when it comes to pickups and any tone questions, because he’s seen it, heard it, and probably played it. Not going with a neck pickup gave me more room for names. And, realistically, I was just trying to avoid installing a pickup I’d never use. I always play in the bridge position through my Marshall JCM900 to get what I call a Lagwagon-meets-Descendents tone.”
The guitar’s top, body, neck, and fretboard are all made of maple, making this axe weigh a back-busting 12 pounds. The best part of the guitar isn’t its tone, playability, or the DIY factor, but in the community and feel-good mojo it gives Wallace every time he takes it onstage.
“I wanted to build something that connected me to the people who support me and this band,” he says. “I love when I play a show and some kid who I’ve never met walks up and asks if he can take a picture and play a few chords on the guitar he helped build.”
To hear Dustin Wallace’s axe in action with his band With the Punches, visit facebook.com/withthepunches.