Reader Guitar of the Month: Blue Hawaii

A former Guild employee builds guitars and winds his own pickups by hand. Here's his latest creation.

Name: Jacques Blanchette
Location: Rhode Island
Guitar: Blue Hawaii

I've been building guitars on and off since the '80s. I worked at Guild Guitars in Westerly, Rhode Island, for two years under Kim Walker's tutelage. After leaving, I worked at a music store as manager, repairman, and buyer.


I haven't been active in the music field since the mid 1990s. It's very hard to work as a builder or repair tech alone with no reputation. I build guitars now as a form of therapy. I don't really think about what I'm going to do with them when they're finished.

This is the latest guitar I've built. I call it Blue Hawaii, and it's actually the second of a set of three guitars. The third one is still in my head.

Blue Hawaii is a tribute to 1960s import guitars with a nod to the surf scene. The pickups are my own version of the old Danelectro lipstick tubes but without the tubes. I used 42-gauge wire wrapped directly onto alnico 6 bar magnets. The metal interferes with the magnetic field, so I leave them open. These pickups are handwound, as in bobbin in left hand and wire in the right hand. They have a very tight and snappy kind of sound, not much low end—think Fender with a bit of Rickenbacker mixed in. I made a set of these for my 12-string, too.

Each pickup has a volume, tone, and on/off switch with a master volume as well. The pickup covers are white PVC, the bridge is a salvage, the tuners are Gotoh, and the neck is a Chinese import. The guitar's body is a solid slab of poplar. The finish is nine coats of Rust-Oleum Lagoon. That's it, no clear coat. This guitar took about three months from start to finish, including finish-drying time.

I don't use many power tools, mostly because I can't afford the good ones. I just have a cordless drill, belt sander, jigsaw, and palm sander. I source most of my parts through Amazon. What I can't find, I make.

I've always loved the '60s and early-'70s imports and this series is my take on the various makers. The surf vibe of this guitar is because that's what those guitars were primarily used for. I decided on a set of three guitars like this, in primary colors. First is red, then blue, and finally yellow. The yellow guitar is still in R & D.

Send your guitar story to submissions@premierguitar.com.

It’s all in the details.

Beginner

Beginner

  • Understand the inherent challenges in rhythm guitar playing.
  • Develop new strumming patterns.
  • Cultivate practice strategies to keep yourself motivated.
{u'media': u'[rebelmouse-document-pdf 15103 site_id=20368559 original_filename="RhythmGuitar-Dec19.pdf"]', u'file_original_url': u'https://roar-assets-auto.rbl.ms/documents/15103/RhythmGuitar-Dec19.pdf', u'type': u'pdf', u'id': 15103, u'media_html': u'RhythmGuitar-Dec19.pdf'}

Last updated on May 12, 2022

Rhythm guitar is arguably the most important aspect of guitar playing, and it’s also one of the most challenging skills to develop. The discouragement many players feel when working on rhythms forces too many of them to oversimplify the nuances, and this can reduce a performance from exceptional to fine. In this lesson, we’ll investigate why rhythm guitar can be so puzzling and look at a few ways to keep yourself motivated enough to persevere and improve.

Read More Show less

The Atlas Compressor offers up an extensive library of compression options and allows for transformation into a bass specific compression machine.


Read More Show less

Megadeth founder teams up with Gibson for his first acoustic guitar in the Dave Mustaine Collection.

Read More Show less
x