Reader Guitar of the Month: TW Special

After finding a collection of 80-year-old tools in his mother’s garage, a Swedish guitarist built an instrument that connects him to his grandfather.

Name: Andrew Duvenhage

Hometown: Hörnefors, Sweden
Guitar: TW Special

I’d always wanted to build a guitar, but thought it was way beyond my handful-of-thumbs capabilities. You have to at least have done some sort of woodworking before you try and build a guitar, right?

One Christmas, visiting my mother, I found a chest under a pile of junk in a corner of the garage. Inside was a collection of old, quite rusty but fully serviceable woodworking tools. A handsaw, a few chisels, a set square, some rasps. Turns out they belonged to my grandfather and his father. Under the same pile of junk was my first electric guitar: a plywood body 1980 Hondo II. It was in even worse condition than the 80-year-old tools.

I knew what I had to do. When I got home, I used YouTube to learn how to restore the tools. Then I used it some more to learn how to use them. I started planing and shaping some stock pine building lumber. If it was good enough for Leo it was good enough for me!

This is the guitar I built. I wanted to keep it simple and clean. I love the Les Paul Jr. shape. I like no-frills and no-fuss guitars, because that’s how I play. It has the neck from my first guitar, and a single P-90 with a push-pull volume tone, which I found the wiring diagram for in a Mod Garage column in your mag. I achieved the finish by using the Japanese style called shou sugi ban, which is where you burn the wood using a heat gun or flame torch. After that, I put on layers of Danish oil.

The guitar works well for all styles and is surprisingly versatile for a one-pickup, one-control guitar. I call it the “TW Special” after my grandfather’s initials. Every time I play it, I feel a connection to him and my great-grandfather. I wonder if they knew when they bought those tools that, one day, they’d end up being used to make a rock ’n’ roll machine?

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