Sometimes it's the wood that tells you what
the design of the instrument is going to be, not agreeing with your
initial plan, and then pointing you in a different dirrection. This
was the case with the Butternut drop top used in this guitar. I had
a nice section of wormy Butternut intended for another Tele. When I
ripped the board in two (for a mirrored top) there was an imbedded knot
right in the middle! So much for that. I tossed the wood
into the corner and forgot about it for a few years.
In the meanwhile I had completed a guitar
inspired by the shape of the Gibson Hawk. Picking up that Butternut
again, I pictured stylized F holes in a Hawk shape guitar which would
exactly cut out those knots while leaving behind all that highly figured
wood around them. It didn't take long for a design to come together
after that; book matched (mirrored) wormy Butternut drop top, set on a
bookmatched Black Walnut back, a substantial amount of chambering, a
Walnut neck with a Butternut laminate down the middle, a scarf jointed
headstock (makes for a stronger neck), and a rosewood fretboard.
for the bridge to use, Butternut is too soft to firmly hold a Gibson style
bridge and tailpiece, so a different design was called for. Going
string-through would best take the load of the strings and also add to
tone. So going with a Tele style bridge became the choice.
It's also more interesting to mix & match ideas into a chimera. In
this case a Gibson plan veiw and Fender side profile. Finally to
round out the design, I carved a armrest, contoured belly, and added an
asymmetrical cut-a-way. It's amazing how removing just a few square
inches of surface area at the neck joint completely changes the look of a
design. A Hawk body meets the neck at the 16 fret like on a Les
Paul, but the cut-a-way here slides into the neck, making it look so much
longer. Finally, the neck joint is a carved lap joint giving amazing
access even to the very highest frets.
The pickups are both custom shop
Seymour Duncan single coil pickups. The neck pickup is a custom gold
case Hot Tele STR-2 which is slightly overwound to 9.9 ohms, giving a
"bigger, fatter sound with greater overall warmth". The bridge
pickup is a custom STL-2T Tapped Hot Lead for Tele delivering "fat, full
punch in both the low and mid-range frequencies, yet it retains the
muscular twang of a vintage style lead pickup". But this custom
Tapped pickup also takes a third hot wire lead from deeper in the coil
thus give the options of the overwound sound, or the vintage tone (8 or 14
ohms), slightly less power but even more of that tele twang and clearity.
The low rocker switches provide the same pickup selection options as a
three way blade in adition to OFF. The addition of the Tap
(controlled by a Push/Pull/Volume) give two tones any time the back pickup
is in use for a total of 5 tones.
Just a single Volume keeps it simple,
and also prevents "pot leakage". The inclusion of a Treble Bleed
circuit retains the "Bite" all the way down to zero as your roll off the
volume, while the set neck gives this guitar sustain that dosn't want to
quite. Between the woods, construction, and pickups, this is an
incredablely touch sensitive guitar, translating the slightest nuance of
pick or finger attack, position, tapping, or palm muting.
And to top it
off, is the stylized hawk face made out of various real shells.