Creston Electric

PHOTOS BY JESSICA ANDERSON
2009-10-01
TRADITIONAL, OLD WOOD

JAY FARRAR'S OKEMAH ARTIFACT CUSTOM

Just as I was finishing up Jay's lap steel, a triangular mailing box arrived at my door with its contents spilling out through a hole the side. What I found in there was a sandstone rock, a weather-beaten piece of beadboard with faint traces of green paint, a long rusty steel carriage bolt passing through a rough steel plate, and a note from Jay suggesting that those things might find their way into a guitar.

He'd gathered them at the remains of Woody Guthrie's childhood home in Okemah, OK quite a few years ago as he and Brian Henneman and Mark Spencer passed through between somewhere and somewhere else.

The rock immediately broke in two. Then the  whole pile sat on my router table for a couple of months. After visiting my friend Joe Cleary's shop here in Burlington, I got purfling on my mind and the rest of the design fell into place accordingly.

The body is a single piece of South American mahogany, chambered and f-holed. Mahogany neck with a rosewood fretboard. Lollar Firebird bridge pickup and 1950's-wind neck soapbar. Bigsby B5. 1930's radio knobs in a neck volume / bridge volume / master tone arrangement. Bill Bonanzinga told me where to find real, thick celluloid for the the 1-ply tortoise pickguard.

Sarah Ryan hand-lettered the headstock and painted a small detail from the Oklahoma State Seal at the base of the neck.

I pulverized the broken part of the rock and packed the dust into a purfling channel around the perimeter of the body's top. I inlaid the beadboard up the middle of the body, where it lies beneath the Bigsby, the bridge, and both pickups. My friend, John Marius, forged the bolt into an elegant handle for the Bigsby. If you look carefully, you'll see the threads and the faint outline of the nut. He lopped off the mushroom head of the bolt and welded it to the flattened shaft to make the pivot point for the handle. I don't know if Woody ever made it to northern New England, but that didn't stop me from using a piece of Maine moose bone for the nut.

This machine:









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