Story of a pin-up girl
In the summer of 2007 Jacques-André Dupont, guitar collector and “Guitar Junky” (http://www.guitarjunky.ca/spip_en.php), approached me with some very exciting news. He had decided to create a new archtop guitar collection: The Red Guitar Collection. I was and am thrilled and honored to have been one of the very first commissioned to build an instrument for this very special collection. Beyond some of the guitar’s parameters, the only guidance I had was that something on or about the guitar needed to be red. I had carte blanche…or carte rouge in this case!!!
Because of Jacques-André’s passion for vintage guitars and because this was also to be a guitar he plans on playing (and not just keeping on display in a room or a glass case), the guitar was to be based on an L-5. 25.5” scale, 1-11/16” nut width and 2-1/16” spacing at the saddle. He wanted a fairly traditional voice both acoustically and amplified, so we opted for the “S” style soundholes and also agreed the body would be a full 3-3/8” deep, like many of the older, more traditional archtop guitars.
I spent months thinking about the concept for this guitar….first the color. Transparent red?...too obvious. I came up with the idea of the transparent cherry red to opaque black burst. While I imagine someone had done this before (EVERYTHING has been done before), I had never seen this combination. Then I thought what if I used ebony binding? Then the black edges of the ‘burst would flow into and disappear at the binding edge. Combine that with the delicate white micro-purfling lines on the top, back and sides of the body, under the fingerboard binding, peghead overlay and underlay veneers and even the white line on the heel cap and peghead volute and it immediately made for a very striking, elegant look.
As I continued to think about this color and look, I decided that it was very “black cherry”- like and hence the theme of the guitar was born. A month or two later, I was having brunch at a local Montréal diner and there was some artwork of a 50s style pin-up girl at the cash. I though how cool it would be to have something like this on the guitar but to have her holding a bunch of black cherries on a stem. I could also use cherries as position markers and put a bunch of cherries on the peghead face. Then I added the solitary cherry on the rear of the peghead (just in case Jacques-André forgot where he was while playing, he could look at the peghead for a subtle reminder). What fun! That was it! It had all come together.
Before putting a woman in a bathing suit on the guitar, I did get the approval of Jacques-André but never revealed anything more about the guitar. It was still a complete surprise! I spoke with Larry Robinson about the project (he LOVED it!) and he came up with artwork for my approval. He nailed it first draft! And now it was time to build the guitar...
Based on my 17” Vanguard model, I deepened the sides and added the cutaway from my Altiplanos (Pierre Bensusan) model. This contributed even further to the special one-of-a-kind design and appointments of this guitar. Of course I picked out one of my oldest and best sets of Alpine Spruce and Big Leaf Maple for the guitar, got out my palm and finger planes and started carving wood. About 4 weeks later, I sent the rough carved neck to Larry for inlay art. Once again, he had outdone himself! Then I fit the neck, did the final voicing of the body and lots of finish sanding and detail work; 2 weeks later, I was in the spray room mixing paint!
“The Black Cherry” was presented to Jacques-André and displayed at the 2008 edition of the Montreal Guitar Show.