So you didn’t make any other special requests— for instance, regarding necks, pickups, or frets?

Ruokangas Duke Custom and Diamond Amplification Positron – The Duke Custom from Finnish builder Juha Ruokangas features a Spanish cedar body and neck, an arctic birch top, and a calibrated set of custom Häussel alnico 2 pickups. “I met Juha Ruokangas at a NAMM show and fell in love with his guitars,” says French. “I bought one for my personal collection. I told him about the project and he wanted to be involved. My girlfriend said, ‘Why would he not be included? You think his guitars are the iconic guitars of the future!’ She was right. Juha is a supreme boutique maker whose heart is in the right place. So that also meant we needed an iconic, futuristic boutique amp. My friend David Wilson suggested Diamond. In conversations about the project, they suggested a new model, the Positron, and decided it would be serial number 001 to make it special to match in pairings with the Ruokangas guitar.”
I left it up to the discretion of the builders. With John Cruz, for example, he put in the Twisted Tele pickups. That was not me saying, “I want this fretwire and 400 windings on the pickups.” All I asked for was the most iconic models, and it was interesting to see what each company chose as iconic. They are all beautiful works of art, and I strongly doubt that any of these instruments will be used. They will be collected and displayed.

Are there any other ways that you’re planning to raise money year-round and from musicians who would love to own a pinkburst but can’t afford one?

Red Monkey made straps with the logo, and they will probably make extra ones to auction off and help the cause. They are affordable for someone who just wants to do something to help. The possibilities of other things are endless, but we had to focus on the singular reason or it would drive me crazy. I had to keep my eye on the ball or lose my mind. People say, “How much will this make?” It could bring in the minimum bid or it could bring in way more. If they’re all sold, it will probably make enough to send a nice check to the hospital. If enough people read about it and understand the uniqueness, then it can appeal to the vintage guy, the collector, the one-of-a-kind guy, someone who wants a pairing. I tried to get gear that would create a passionate connection to a broad base of people. The guitar and amp companies were very fair, and some didn’t charge me at all. I was surprised at some of the largesse that was shown to me.

With this project, I found something that is more important than my life. Putting myself out there on my daughter’s behalf has been so rewarding. It resonates with people. MERSI needs research dollars. People need help. I can’t thank all the manufacturers who participated enough. It is one thing to sit at your desk and dream of an idea, and quite another to have it realized. In addition to the philanthropic aspect to the Pinkburst Project, as a guitar player and collector, this is a dream come true. Many of these companies’ products have provided years of pleasure and satisfaction to me through the very same guitars, amps, and cases that are featured in this collection. I will remain a collector of many of the models represented in the Pinkburst Project—as well as other fine instruments and amplifiers—for the rest of my life.

The Pinkburst Auction
The Skinner Auction House in Boston will host the Pinkburst Project auction May 1, 2011, to benefit ongoing work at the Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institution on behalf of the Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Foundation.

Epiphone Jay Jay French Elitist Les Paul (LEFT) and Thunderbird Bass (CENTER) – “When Jay Jay approached Epiphone about contributing a special guitar for this project, we were more than happy to help,” says Epiphone’s Jim Rosenberg. “Jay Jay and Twisted Sister have been die-hard supporters and users of Epiphone product for almost a decade now—not to mention that the cause is a worthy one. Contributing one of Jay Jay’s signature Les Paul pinkburst guitars was obviously a cornerstone of the concept and a perfect fit. However, when I found out he was gathering an assortment of instruments and had not considered a bass yet, a Thunderbird in pinkburst immediately came to mind.” The Les Paul features a Twisted Sister logo inlay on the headstock, Gibson-manufactured components, a long neck tenon, and a solid maple top. Fender Custom Shop ’75 Jazz Bass Reissue (RIGHT) – “I took a little different approach in the construction of this bass, as I really did not want to steer too far away from the original look of this classic,” says Fender’s John Cruz. “The body was again made of mahogany, but I decided to make the neck with quartersawn maple for better stability, with a 12"-radius Indian rosewood fretboard, trapezoid inlay and Fender logo inlayed into the peg face. I used our medium jumbo fretwire for this because I felt it worked better with the playability of a bass.”