Life on the frozen tundra of South Dakota Life on the frozen tundra of South Dakota

A Guitar Built As A Tribute To My Father

A Guitar Built As A Tribute To My Father

Instrument Completed On 07/09/2016

Instrument Completed On 07/09/2016

In February of 2012 my father passed away. To say that this was devastating to me and my family was an understatement. At the time of this writing, more than four years later, not a day goes by that I don't think about him.

As I explained in full detail over on the pages where I built my father's cremation urn, I had some special wood. This wood was from a walnut tree that grew on the family farm where my father was raised. He grew up playing in this tree. Later when the tree had reached the end of its life, my father cut the tree down. When he passed away I built him a cremation urn from this tree to hold his ashes.

After the urn was finished, I had a bunch of the scrap pieces and off-cuts left over. None of them on their own were large enough to be very useful. However given the nature of where the wood originated, I didn't want to just throw the pieces in the scrap bucket or the burn pile.

So I concocted an idea: I would take the little pieces of scrap and glue them together into larger pieces. From those larger pieces I could plane and joint stock in sizes useable enough to build a guitar. This guitar would be my tribute to my father. Rather than just an heirloom object that would sit on a shelf somewhere, this could be something I could use in a way that would be a fitting tribute to my dad's legacy.

Now that I had an application for the wood, I needed to come up with an idea for a guitar. For some reason, a simple Stratocaster copy seemed appropriate. I searched the 'net and found a PDF of some plans for a 60's era strat. I used those plans to make templates out of MDF.

Note that this guitar isn't an exact Strat replica down to every last detail. In particular, the truss rod and nut differ from those that Fender uses, and I added carbon fibre reinforcement in the neck. To my knowledge, Fender doesn't offer a walnut neck and cocobolo fretboard. So I'm just trying to capture the spirit of the instrument with my own little tweaks that will make it "mine."

Here are the specifications of the instrument:

  • Neck Type: Bolt-on

  • Neck Wood: Walnut from the scraps of my dad's cremation urn.

  • Truss Rod: Dual action

  • Reinforcement: Two carbon fiber rods

  • Headstock: Fender-esque flat style (non-angled)

  • Tuners: Sperzel style locking.

  • Nut: Bone

  • Body Wood: Walnut from the scraps of my dad's cremation urn.

  • Body Features: Strat shape, forearm contour, rear belly cutaway.

  • Fretboard: Cocobolo, 10" radius

  • Scale Length: 25.5"

  • Pickups: GFS Premium Vintage Alnico

  • Controls: One volume, two tone, five way pickup switch.

  • Hardware: Chrome

  • Finish: Gloss nitrocellulose lacquer

  • Weight: Ten pound range (guesstimate)

This is a pretty typical strat-style guitar. What this guitar represents is more important than what it has for features. Rather than a lot of description like I often do, I'm going to let the pictures speak for themselves. Click on any of them to see a larger version.

Check out the photos of this guitar during construction.

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This page last updated on 06/28/2018