Reader Guitar of the Month: Gilded Tobacco Burst Les Paul

An artist uses his college training to design an LP-style axe wrapped in stunning gold leaf.

Name: Andrew Hardardt

Hometown: Schriek, Antwerpen, Belgium
Guitar: Gilded Tobacco Burst Les Paul

I’ve been drawing and designing guitars since I was in junior high back in New Jersey. After college, I had the real chops to do this as I studied graphic design/commercial art. I began to search for a likely subject to create my dream guitar: a one-of-a-kind piece. I spied a Les Paul for sale online, purchased it and, while awaiting delivery, designed something different than anything I’d seen.

After I had my sketches, serendipity shined herself upon my quest when a friend I hadn’t seen in a few years, Geo Kitta of Gildaxe, informed me he was now working in the ancient art of gold/silver/copper leafing appliqué, often referred to as gilding. Think of the torch of the Statue of Liberty and you get the idea.

He loved the concept, as it would push his skills forward by working in a constrained yet multi-layered format, having to create shading and depth using only the gilding. The LP was stripped of all hardware before work began. Kitta lightly sanded the entire body, headstock, and neck back to ensure adherence of the material when applied. The leafing is rough and a bit ragged being natural metal. It has a vibrant diffusion of light which sings when under a spotlight, creating a varied glowing effect giving additional depth. Kitta then sent the leafed guitar to finisher Pat Wilkins, who applied the “tobacco burst” finish, then the poly clear coat for superb glossiness.

I chose custom electronics from Rainbow Guitars. The wiring is for split-coil humbuckers using two push/pull tone controls. All-gold hardware including the pickup bezels, Bare Knuckles Rebel Yells with custom etched covers, Gibson tombstone tuners, and Schaller strap locks complete the package. Oh, and the tone and volume go to 11, Nigel!

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Rig Rundown: Adam Shoenfeld

Whether in the studio or on solo gigs, the Nashville session-guitar star holds a lotta cards, with guitars and amps for everything he’s dealt.

Adam Shoenfeld has helped shape the tone of modern country guitar. How? Well, the Nashville-based session star, producer, and frontman has played on hundreds of albums and 45 No. 1 country hits, starting with Jason Aldean’s “Hicktown,” since 2005. Plus, he’s found time for several bands of his own as well as the first studio album under his own name, All the Birds Sing, which drops January 28.

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Diatonic sequences are powerful tools. Here’s how to use them wisely.



• Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
• Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
• Develop a smooth attack—even at high speeds.

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Knowing how to function in different keys is crucial to improvising in any context. One path to fretboard mastery is learning how to move through positions across the neck. Even something as simple as a three-note-per-string major scale can offer loads of options when it’s time to step up and rip. I’m going to outline seven technical sequences, each one focusing on a position of a diatonic major scale. This should provide a fun workout for the fingers and hopefully inspire a few licks of your own.
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