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Reader Guitar of the Month: "Woody"

In a parking lot transaction, an Irish guitarist saves an Epiphone Les Paul from being turned into a lamp.


Name: Paul Connolly

Location: Derry, Northern Ireland
Guitar: “Woody”

I’m a magpie for guitars, plus I’m left-handed, so anytime I see a project guitar in need of sprucing up, I can’t help but take it home. I’m also a definite believer that all guitars have songs hidden in them.

This humble Epiphone Les Paul is one of those “meet me in the parking lot” kind of stories. The seller wasn’t left-handed, so he’d crudely strung it right-handed and cracked the nut. It was also missing the pickups, pickguard, truss-rod cover, and there was a bit of cracking near the headstock. Thankfully this was just some finish checking.

I was going to pass on it. Then, the seller, lighting a cigarette, said these chilling words: “If you weren’t buying this today, I was going to turn it into a lamp. Pretty cool idea, huh?” He then showed me a photo of a beautiful double-cut korina Hamer that had received the “lamp treatment.” I was horrified. I pressed the €100 into his hand, told him to keep the moldy gigbag, and sped away like the last Jeep Wrangler out of Jurassic Park.

This thing was a smoke-covered mess, but it was a nice piece of mahogany and its ebony finish is surprisingly tricky to find for us European leftys. I knew that with some decent components and a proper setup, it would be a gig-able guitar.

Photo by Stefan Tivodar

I found two superb Seymour Duncan pickups: a Jazz for the neck and an incredible-sounding Custom 5 for the bridge. The gold glitter pickguard and transparent speed knobs came from Greasy Groove, and in a moment of vanity I chose to have an eBay seller engrave my band’s name into a custom truss-rod cover. I had all the parts needed to hand it over to my friend and local guitar wizard, Gerry Devine.

After a full reanimation setup and voodoo ritual on Gerry’s bench, the hot-rodded Epiphone was ready to hit the stage. I’ve toured with it in Germany, Poland, the U.K., and Ireland with the Wood Burning Savages, including a slot at Glastonbury festival last year.

I’ve named it “Woody” after a hilarious case of mistaken identity on a live radio call in Scotland. Woody is one of my favorites: I reach for it over any other Les Paul when I need some inspiring tones.

I’d like to say hats off to all guitar techs for the invaluable work they do making sure our instruments perform in ways that help us keep inspired. When we get through these troubling times, remember to call up your tech and get your guitars ready for the shows we’ll try to fix people’s hearts and souls with. Stay safe and keep rocking!

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