Reader Guitar of the Month: Olde Skully
As we approach Halloween, the power of the skull only increases! A Seattle guitarist makes a guitar for his everyday macabre needs.
“It is not my intention to be fulsome, but I confess that I covet your skull.”
—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles
Greetings to all my fellow guitar brethren! My name is Cary and I’m a guitar addict. I was bitten and smitten with the “guitar bug” as a kid, and the fascination has remained constant, even getting stronger over time.
Like many, I found I couldn’t stop tinkering about with gear and guitars, trying to personalize and tweak them to my satisfaction. So, in dreaming up my next project (my wife would say scheming up), I thought about various finishes and patterns that might be fun. What could be more iconic and rock ’n’ roll than the ubiquitous image of the skull? I thought of the classic hot rod and motorcycle painting technique of using lace as a template. Why not try it on a guitar body? If only there was a lace material with skulls as the main theme. Luckily, it turns out there is! I set out to give it a go.
“If only there was a lace material with skulls as the main theme. Luckily, it turns out there is! I set out to give it a go.”
An old basswood 2003 Squire ’51 body was my victim. I drilled it to make it string-through, stripped the original finish and rattle-canned on a good coat of primer, and finished in white. Doing first the front (no guts, no glory), then the back, I sprayed black through the lace to create a glorious pattern of skulls. I sealed the pattern in with 20-plus coats of wipe-on poly.
I added a custom Warmoth Tele neck with rosewood fretboard, boatneck carve, 6100 nickel frets, and finished it with wipe-on poly. Doug Shepherd, at Doug’s Custom Neck Plates out of Texas, designed a skull neck plate for me. While waiting for various parts to arrive, I decided the skulls would look sinister if they had eyeballs. I inlaid yellow 3 mm crystal rhinestones into each socket so the guitar could stare down its audience. I selected a skull-approved DiMarzio Super Distortion for the bridge and a Duncan Hot Stack for the neck and kept it simple with a 3-way switch and volume. It sounds downright “skullduggerous” played through a TC Electronic Fangs into a cranked Quilter Aviator Mach 3. My neighbors seem to love it!
While this could be viewed as a Halloween guitar, I think of it more as a skull guitar for your everyday skull guitar needs. As we approach October, the power of the skull only increases!
Rock on all! I will keep an eye out for you. In guitars we trust.
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