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Reader Guitar of the Month: Seafaring Seagull

A guitarist in Ocean City shows off his converted 8-string bearing Aphrodite, Poseidon’s trident, and a tsunami strap to boot.

Name: Jay Graboski

Hometown: Ocean City, Maryland
Guitar Model: Seagull Model S6+ (originally tobacco burst)

I purchased a modestly priced Seagull Model S6+ during the summer of 1997 as a backup acoustic guitar. I installed a piezo pup and then gifted it to our teenage son who put it through its paces before returning it to me in the early ’00s. Psychologically bifurcated (I’m a 12-string aficionado on the one hand, and work-shy when it comes to tuning on the other), I engaged the services of then local luthier John Thurston to convert this Seagull into an 8-string. This would give me the jangle of a 12-string and the facility of a 6-string on the high and low ends while reducing tuning by roughly 33 1/3 percent.

John cleverly inserted two short metal poles in front of the peg holes at the 3rd and 4th string positions to facilitate string separation while using the existing holes to accommodate both the G and D octave strings. Two slots were filed into the nut and voila—John delivered my “new” 8-string.

Baltimore artist Connell P. Byrne was commissioned to handpaint it. The only stipulation was a sea-based theme with the goddess Aphrodite depicted on the body (my spouse and I had recently purchased a beach home in Ocean City). Connell transformed this guitar into a functional work of art: Aphrodite presents herself on the guitar back in her Metropolis C-3PO guise, surfing on a shell as she rides a red octopus. On the front is a Japanese-style fish, a hippocampus, and a nautilus. Poseidon’s golden trident on the headstock points the middle way (between Scylla and Charybdis). I added brass abalone-inlayed string pegs and a decorative carved soundhole cover (suggesting undersea foliage, likely in the Indian Ocean). The final touch was attaching an embroidered blue/orange tsunami-themed strap.

I perform (and record) with these Connellized guitars through a Radial PZ-Pre into a Bose PA. It sounds great, satisfied all my expectations, and never fails to elicit interest from audients.

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