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Reader Guitar of the Month: The Marcel Paul

Reader Guitar of the Month: The Marcel Paul

Name: Marc Kuffler

Hometown: Detroit, MI

Guitar: The Marcel Paul

Marcel (left) and Marc (right).

The building of this reader’s homemade Les Paul-style solidbody came with some experimentation snafus, but ended in success—and a fitting homage to his beloved pooch.

As you can probably tell, I love dogs. I also love guitars. I got my first guitar in 1969. I was 4, and my grandparents gave me my mom’s Harmony Patrician to strum on. (My mom was not pleased.) I still have that Patrician and it is, oddly, still playable in 2024.

I started building a few guitars for myself starting in 2019, mostly because I wanted guitars with a neck and feel that I needed. There were also tones that I wanted that I just couldn’t get any other way. I began by buying a few kits online from different vendors.

After acquiring the mahogany body, mahogany neck, and maple back with a flamed-veneer top from a kit, I started sanding and finishing. I bought some red stain and started applying it over a month. But, it just looked awful. (Yes, it was because of my inexperience, 100 percent.) I really thought about throwing the whole thing in the garbage. I was disappointed in myself and the stain. I set it aside for two weeks and finished building another “brother” guitar of this one in the meantime.

The Marcel Paul: A solidbody Les Paul-style axe in olive green, equipped with DiMarzio PAF 59 humbuckers.

Then I fired up my tablet, a Samsung Galaxy S9 FE. It has a pen for input and tons of tools for tracing and color sampling. I dropped in an image of the guitar body to create a mockup. It was super easy with some AI and an advanced camera. This made the build so much easier! I also used this strategy to place my dog Marcel on the guitar as well as my name and design on the headstock. The tablet made it much easier to build out the space and understand distances.

To fix the red-stain issue, I ended up getting an olive green finish from Oxford Guitar Supply. It’s traditional and ages beautifully. I also sampled different knob and guard colors and came up with the cream- and black-colored hardware.

At first, I tried sourcing the pickups, bridge, and tuners through eBay, but what I bought ended up being pretty inadequate. Most of the electronics I wanted to upgrade or replace. The biggest feature I wanted to address was the pickups. I dropped in DiMarzio PAF 59 humbuckers and I was super happy with the sound.

I replaced the tuners from eBay with Kluson tuners, which are some of my favorites on any guitar. I like the old-timey vibe and yet the newer versions provide very nice control, especially if I want to do any drop tuning.

“It sounds as unique as the little animal it is named after. It does growl and it has a really nice attack.”

I was a little worried about fret leveling and wiring so I sought out some guidance from an experienced guitar tech. The Jedi master guitar tech I worked with was Thomas Voytek at Tom V Guitar in Seymour, Connecticut. His guidance made the guitar move from good to great.

The finished product sounds as unique as the little animal it is named after. It growls and has a really nice attack. Once I stood back and listened to it, I had a slight epiphany. I’m a perfectionist and this still has a few faults, mostly in the finish. Still, I saw it and said to myself....

1. I’m never parting with this guitar.

2. I’d buy it in 1.5 seconds if I saw it and played it (and if it was for sale).

Hundreds of years from now, when both of our memories are washed away, someone will be able to pick up this guitar and make great music with it—and know how much I loved my best friend.