I got an email yesterday (actually a while ago now) from my friend Tone from Guitarnerd saying "someone has ripped off one of your guitars" and mentioned a forum that had some pics. I didn't really think much of it and then I got another email from another customer saying the same thing. I asked Tone to send me a link so I could look at it.
I've gotta say, my first reaction was a little shock. Not that my designs are the most original around or that I'm precious about the shapes I copy. Just, yeah, it was my guitar. I even checked quickly it wasn't "one" of my guitars.
Back in the 90's when I made a few more guitars than I do now one of the guitarists I worked with was Nicke Royale from the Hellacopters. We worked on quite a few models inc the "Royale model" which I will do a story on IF I can find some pics of them .......... This guitar was one of those models that started with me saying "OK Nicke, if you could join two of your favorite guitars together, what would they be ?" It's still one of my favorite questions when designing ANYTHING new for someone. I'm not interested in make exact copies of readily available stuff that can be bought easily.
Suggestions came and I eventually ended up saying "what about a Crestwood deluxe and Mk II Mosrite" like two of his favorite guitarists, Johnny Ramone and Fred "Sonic" Smith.
When I started thinking it out it just all fell into place beautifully. The two designs are both classic and great. The body was going to be a Mosrite MkII "slab body" but in mahogany and the thickness of the Crestwood. The neck would be Mosrite thickness with binding but not the ebony board and block inlays.I thought it would look "too fancy" on this design. The neck would be bolt on like the Mosrite but have the volute like the Ventures model (I'm a BIG fan of volutes) I figured the pickups and electronics would be Crestwood deluxe. Simple, right.
This is back when I could get Honduran mahogany from my local timber yard at what was really too cheap to believe. I used mahogany for the body and neck to get it closer to a Crestwood tone but "look" a bit like a Mosrite.
The fretboard, like most of my fretboards is Jarrah, an Australian hardwood that I ended up calling West Australian rosewood to convince guitarists to let me use it.
The headstock was originally going to be the big batwing style from the Epiphone Crestwood Deluxe but I wanted a reverse one to go with the reverse body styling of the Mosrite. From memory Nicke thought it would look "too metal" which could have been right in retrospect now I look at it. In the end I opted for a more Mosrite/Rickenbacker style three a side with a "scoop" instead of an "M" to keep it looking a little more Mosrite.
I remember the guitar came together easily and all seemed to "fit" really nicely aesthetically. I was going to use a Maestro type vibrato but they weren't making an aftermarket version back then, so the Bigsby seemed the next obvious choice. It also fitted in with the Fred "Sonic" Smith aesthetic, and they were (are) easy to get.
The pick ups were Dan Armstrong mini humbuckers which had just been released (previously only Firebird minis were available) and I had used these for repairs and liked them a lot. My Wosrites (Mosrite copies) all had custom Tym hand made pickups and vibratos, bridges etc so I could have used them but the idea was to make something that sounded like a Crestwood deluxe.
My serial number book says I made this one in March 2005 and is serial number 95. I made another one of these dated July 2005 (#97) that I'm pretty sure ended up in New Zealand. This prototype has done a few tours when I've lent it to friends but I never got to make one and send it over to Nicke. We were going to call this "the Copter" but alas, there's only two of them in the world. Well, three now .............
They say that imitation is the best form of flattery so I guess I'm ........... flattered :)