Reader Guitar of the Month: Put Some Skank on It

A guitarist wanted a Les Paul Jr., so he made his own version out of cherry wood from a handbuilt family heirloom.

Name: Don Schanche

Location: Stockbridge, Georgia
Guitar: The Skank

Greetings from Georgia!

My guitar looks much like a standard Les Paul Jr., but it’s one of a kind. It’s a “Skank:” The name isn’t a dig at my sweet guitar, but a play on my last name: Schanche. That mouthful of Norwegian is pronounced “Skanky,” or at least that’s the way my family says it. I’ve been called “Skanky” all my life, so for this guitar, I decided to lean into that funky name.

I’d wanted a Les Paul Jr. ever since seeing Leslie West play one around 1970. As time went by, I developed a desire to build my own guitars. After building an acoustic from a kit, I decided to tackle an electric from scratch, and to satisfy my craving for an LP Jr.

The wood in this guitar is part of what makes it unique. Way back in the 1960s, my woodworking grandfather built a cobbler’s bench-style coffee table out of cherry wood for my family. A humble but solid piece of furniture, it stayed with us for decades. Eventually it came to be mine, and after years of rough handling it was in less than pristine condition. So, one day I decided to take it apart and re-purpose that old cherry wood—timber that likely began its life in an American forest sometime in the 1800s.

Using a set of plans from a lutherie supply house, I made patterns for a set-neck LP Jr. When I cut out the body section, I kept edge-joints that my grandfather had put together decades earlier. His work remains a part of the instrument. The neck consists of three long pieces, glued side by side, and the headstock has a few sections for the ears.

I added a Lollar P-90 pickup, Gotoh tuners, and a Tune-o-matic bridge. I’m happy with the way it feels and sounds. There’s nothing skeezy about this Skank guitar, and it connects me to the man who left me that old table and many of his woodworking tools when he passed away. It’s a keeper.

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