Name: Steven Kuehl

Location: Modesto, California
Guitar: The “Hack”

The story of “Hack” starts in Modesto at a local music store called Barker’s Music. I’ve been playing guitar since I started taking lessons there when I was 14. I started working there when I was 17, and it was my first job. This instrument had spent decades sitting up in the rafters of the store on display collecting dust. One day in 2008, the owner decided to sell off a large portion of a great vintage guitar collection. I still remember asking if that “funky blue triple-neck guitar” was for sale and offered to buy it. The owner shockingly told me $100 and I agreed in a heartbeat. He said it was built by a local gentleman named Haskell Medders.

The interior of the custom hard case has a plaque with awards from the 1971 Central California Old-Time Fiddlers’ Contest in Oakdale, which may be the reason this instrument was built. The instrument features a 6-string electric guitar, 6-string electric banjo with resonator, and an electric mandolin, weighing just under 15 pounds! It was handcrafted using odds and ends of guitar parts, including a Silvertone Stratotone pickup in the mandolin position. Currently the electric guitar and banjo share the same input, and the mandolin has its own dedicated input. The white top and side bindings are made of a hard laminate similar to a drum wrap. The blue decorative wood hides the electronics.

While playing the electric guitar, the banjo resonator rings, giving off some serious funky mojo. There is a sound unlike any other guitar when played through an amplifier. The three headstocks read “Hacks, “Instrument,” and “Inez.” After researching, I found that Haskell’s wife’s name was Inez. In honor of the creator, I dubbed it “Hack.”

I’ve recently been playing this guitar with my band Clinton South. The inner workings of guitars and amps are a huge passion of mine and I’d love to make that my work someday. I’ve modded and set up all of my guitars to fit the needs of my playing and to add flare, much like Haskell did to his instruments.

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