Years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting someone that ended up becoming one of my best friends. We’d hang out and play music almost every weekend. I taught him some tips and tricks of playing guitar in the years that followed, and he ended up gifting me his Arianna acoustic when he bought his new Taylor.
Now this acoustic wasn’t the best guitar in the world, or even high up on the brand-name list, but it played beautifully and I loved it. I took it everywhere. Festivals, parties, my moms house for holidays… It was my traveler. It got a fair share of wear and tear throughout the years but it kept on rockin’ until that one day my ex knocked it over onto the concrete floor of my office. I immediately melted when I noticed that the head was completely snapped off right above the nut. It was an accident, and I wasn’t mad, but my heart ached as I was staring at the head which was now dangling from nothing but the 6 strings.
I thought she was done for, but figured I’d see if she’d hold with some wood glue. So I painted a good amount on both sides, set it, and clamped it for five days. I couldn’t bring myself to stringing it up and havin it snap back at me. But I finally did. It felt like it played even better than before! Sounded great, and off I went again.
All was peachy until I went to grab it from underneath my friends camper at the Philly Folk Fest. I walk it back to my camp and open it up, and there lies a snapped head again. Broke right above where I glued it last time. The old glue held, but somehow broke around the repair. Now I’m figuring she’s done for good. But I’m feelin saucy, so this time I’m try somethin different. I felt inspired to make some mods.
I’ve always wanted an acoustic electric, and had tried to purchase one of those acoustic pickups TWICE. A simple google search, website, paypal, purchase, click… but neither ever came. Both companies gave me my money back, but I wondered if it was cursed and that it didn’t want to BE an acoustic electric. So now that I had the thing apart, I’m goin all out. After a little research and a few minutes of shopping, I ended up with the TS JK-
21B kit; 3-Band EQ, rod piezo pickup with a built-in tuner.
I glued the neck back together, AGAIN, but this time it had been pretty badly broken, and some small pieces were missing. It was hard to get to set back together right, but it finally set in an acceptable position. I liked the scar, so I wanted to feature it. I started sanding the head without a plan.
Then I thought maybe I’ll put my logo on it… But how? paint? woodburn? screen print? stain? inlays? I figured I’d install the electronics and mount the brain while I was deciding. My good friend Matt took the reigns to chop the side open with a box-cutter to mount the brain. I installed the plug and the pickup. I also put another strap mount under the neck so I could stand and play. I’ve never liked those straps that tie around the headstock.
It sat for weeks until I finally brought it to my friend Dave Myers shop for some staining advice. A few minutes chattin with this creative basterd, I had a killer plan! My good friend MC Orion makes his own bismuth and Dave had some sittin around the shop. I found the perfect piece, and then Dave went at it with a dremmel to install it as an inlay.
After diggin a huge pit for this “gem” to fit in, I realized we’d missed a few times and made an ugly hole around this sparkly things final resting place, so I had to come up with some sort of trim. I played with some killer wood samples for a while, but when he showed me a piece of leather, I got all wiggly inside. We slapped a light oil stain on the head, and darkened up the leather with another flavor, I cut a little “X” out for the gem, and it was a match made in heaven.
After fiddlin around with the placement and shape of the leather, we finally glued and clamped it all together, and I’m happy as a clam. I also put a new nut from an old Fender on it. The old one was cracked around the low-E and created a buzz at the fourth fret. I finally brought her home, burned my lil icon in the top, and finished the head with about 8 coats of clear. Then I put some strings on her and fired it up. It plays great, but with the new nut still needs a little truss adjustment. After I mount the pickup in the correct place (under the bridge) that will change the string-height, so I’ll have to wait until that’s done to make the final adjustments.
For now, here she is. My custom JR model acoustic electric. 🙂
P.S. Sorry these pics are horrible. My phone went blank on me, and my old tablet takes horrible pics.