Space age designs from John Backlund
J. Backlund Design appears to be the
brainchild of Spacely Sprockets and
George Jetson, but it all started with a
chance encounter on a Harmony Central
forum. Luthier Bruce Bennett—from
Warrior Guitars and Bruce Bennett Music
Labs—was blown away by artist/designer
John Backlund’s flying car-like guitar
drawings. “When I saw John’s drawings
they hit me like a bolt of lighting…it
was something I wanted to see in a guitar
store,” says Bennett. “They invigorated
and inspired me as a builder because of
their unique designs—I instantly wanted to
And it turns out Bennett wasn’t the only one excited by these retro-futuristic guitars. “John had 15-20 pages of comments from people asking where they could buy these guitars, says Bennett. “That didn’t hurt.”
For Bennett, this new, out-of-the-box project takes him back to a simpler, but more creative time. “I grew up in the ’60s watching The Jetsons and Frankenstein, Jr. and The Impossibles so I always thought I’d see flying cars,” says Bennett. “I love the challenge of keeping John’s state-of-the- art designs intact, yet making them work as comfortable, functioning guitars.”
Like any creative project, taking something from paper to production always has its bumps. “We’ve had to scratch guitars John couldn’t recognize as his original design,” declares Bennett, who builds all of the instruments by hand. “I just really want to celebrate John’s skills and brilliance as an artist and designer. That’s why I put his name on the headstock and not mine.”
And as far as Backlund running out of new, viable guitar designs any time soon—fat chance. “There are about 90 more of John’s designs to see the light of day,” laughs Bennett. “I’ve got plenty to do.”
Not only does the JBD-100 provide full access to the 24th fret, it offers a primo carve on the treble bout giving your hand a natural place to rest during those high-octane shredding solos. The bass side’s curved arm scarf provides a comfortable spot for your picking arm and lets you comfortably balance the guitar while playing it. The JBD-100 features a mahogany body, a set mahogany neck with rosewood fretboard, Lace Alumitones—a bridge-position humbucker and neck single-coil—a Hipshot Baby Grand bridge, and all US-made electronics. Another cool standard feature is the recessed Electrosocket jack mount.
The JBD-200 has a familiar look, but with a Jetsonian twist showcasing topographical peaks and valleys. Constructed with a two-piece mahogany body, the guitar boasts an integrated 10-screw steel-plated pickguard and tailpiece that emphasize the instrument’s contours and different sections. Also, it features a bolt-on mahogany neck with a figured maple fretboard with ebony inlays, and Lace Alumitones—a bridge humbucker and neck single-coil.
A futuristic guitar with a Jazzmaster-like look, the JBD-800 features some of the bodylines found on the Fender model, but with the power and definition of ’50s tail fins on a Cadillac Eldorado. This souped-up 800 features a korina body, a bolt-on maple neck with a bird’s-eye maple fretboard, and is complete with three Lace Alumitone single-coils.
Pricing and Availability
J. Backlund Design’s standard JBD-800 starts at $1995, the JBD- 200 starts at $2795, and the JBD-100 starts at $2995. Custom options include numerous color combinations, several wood alternatives, a N-Tune onboard chromatic tuner, and the choice of different pickup configurations, including Seymour Duncan or DiMarzio models. Each guitar comes with a custom TKL hardshell case and an Ultimate Support GS-100 stand. Currently, Bruce’s hands are the only pair building these guitars, so there’s a waiting period of 90–120 days.