This one has been a bit of a therapy session for me. I've been building a huge run of distortion pedals for Bob Mould which while being a huge honour, drives me slightly batty as I'm really not set up for big runs like this. I make EVERYTHING by hand, by myself so it gets frustrating for me to sit there and just do one thing over and over again. Don't get me wrong. I have the greatest job in the world and I can't believe the people I get to work with, but my brain doesn't work particularly well with repetition.
So, I was thinking one day while I was unpacking the stainless steel enclosures I get custom made for me from the pallet they were on .... "Maybe I should use these pallets for something productive as it's timber, and shouldn't be wasted?" I thought I could make shelves for the workshop, which I desperately need, or boxes for parts, or ..... a guitar body.
It is solid pine and lots of great guitars have been made from pine.
Initially I was going to pull it apart and run everything through a thicknesser and glue up a nice neat block of solid timber. As I pulled all the nails from the pallet I thought maybe I can just make it look like a pallet, but in the shape of a guitar?
I used a big solid piece of pine from one side brace as the centre block meaning all the important parts all mount to this block. The "softer" thinner pine planks were glued together for the wings to give it shape.
I thought I'd make a shape that I hadn't ventured into before. Although there are millions of great vintage Japanese (and Italian) shapes that I wanted to make I thought it was time I ventured into the world of vintage Maton. This Australian manufacturer is our oldest and most prominent maker and although famous for their acoustics, made some great shapes back in the sixties. Tony's site is a good source for these if you're interested in finding out more.
As anyone's who's owned vintage Maton solidbodies will tell you, they look awesome, but play and sound pretty average. I have owned many and worked on many more and while I adore them aesthetically, most leave something to be desired to be playable instruments. But man, they look cool.
I had a tracing of an original Sharkbite Maton Fyrbyrd so I used that as inspiration for this build.
I've written about my TMI guitars before so I won't bore you with details. I've made hollow body and hybrid versions and one for Kim Salmon to tour with but basically, lacking time to make guitars like I used to I now buy unfinished neck blanks and shape and finish them to my specs and I'm trying alternative body materials and designs to keep my brain busy.
So, with the body blank all glued up I cut the body and routed everything and then looked at it and thought, I'm just going to leave the patina and clear coat it. If I'm going to make a guitar out of a pallet, why not just leave it looking like a Pallet? Dents, dirt, scratches, chips, leave it all there.
I decided to cover it with a polyurethane to seal it all in and after looking around decided I'd just brush it on. I'm not a huge fan of the current "rustic" look a lot of guitar builders and assemblers are using but this seemed fitting for the body material so I thought, I'll give it a go. It looks a little IKEA but gets the point across I think.
After shaping the neck and cutting the headstock I put one thin coat of poly on that as well. I thin these necks down quite a bit but for me, guitars are all about necks so I need them to be comfortable and lets face it, I'm a Mosrite player, so most necks are too thick for me. These necks are 25.5" scale and have double acting truss rods as well.
I decided the hardware should reflect the original Maton look so I wound three high output, A5 T-90's. The middle one is reverse wound, reverse polarity so it's humbucking with either outside pickup. The pickups are switched on individually by the three "knuckle breaker" toggle switches just like the original Matons.
There's also a four way tone switch, like Maton used and a master volume and tone control with circles around the knobs to give a little more Maton feel. The Bigsby style vibrato and bridge finish off the Maton look.
I was going to do a Maton headstock in either the sweeped six a side or the half classical but decided I would use the TMI headstock so as not to make it TOO Maton and finished it off with vintage plastic buttoned Kluson style tuners.
I have my own theories about guitar building that go against lots of popular opinions that I won't go into here (it's too much, so come and have a coffee with me and we'll discuss it) but I've made guitars out of many materials and personally, a poly coated pallet makes a perfectly good guitar.
So, if you've read this far well done. The whole thing about this guitar was another "what would happen if ..." for me which I have done pretty consistently over the last 25 years when it comes to guitars, effects, amps etc. This blog is full of silly ideas that may, or may not work for everyone, but it does for me.
Because this was essentially an experiment, and the body timber cost me nothing I am selling this through the shop soon. It will be $1500 AUD with $700 going to charity to help people who need it. I will announce the charity before selling it but I figured this may as well do something good for the world. I will be making more of these, in different shapes and specs, as I get time so if this is an idea you're into keep an eye on my social media or blog for upcoming models. All will be sold with donations to charity.