Gwen's blog about custom electric guitars and basses made from local and salvaged materials. Dismal Ax electric guitars and basses are a blend of old and new, fantasy and reality. They incorporate many elements of the classic forms of the instrument but present them in different contexts, drawing inspiration from nature and its ability to transform the shiny and new into true works of art.
This is the first of a series of guitars in collaboration with Rail Yard Studios, made from a couple different species of mahogany-like timber salvaged from the decking of rail cars built to carry coils of steel.
This is one I got bored with and decided to get a little psychedelic with. I made it three years ago, and it looked like this….
So I painted the top pink, and added some more grunginess, but then the pickguard didn’t go with it so well, and so I made a new one for it. Don’t worry, I only use records that have become more or less unplayable. This one was also missing the second disk of the album. I also aged the bridge and pickup covers, and made a new switch plate from an old die-cast metal 45 rpm adapter. Oh, and some vintage Heathkit audio knobs so the controls can be set to the heart of the sun, of course.
Body: Four piece salvaged beech, hollowed
Neck: Bolt on, hard maple, with black locust fretboard
Pickups: Dismal homespun humbuckers
bridge~ 7.3K ohms
neck~ 6.0K ohms
Bridge: Compensated stopbar tailpiece
Pickguard: Vinyl LP record.
This was a custom commission for Robert Hendrick, owner of Rail Yard Studios in Nashville, as a graduation present for his daughter.
All the wood is salvaged from the decking of railroad cars built to carry coils of steel, and he has been using it in some amazing pieces of furniture, along with other big heavy stuff from the railroad industry. I have no idea what actual species it is, but it is a mahogany-like timber from some tropical region of the world.
Since I only use local and/or salvaged woods in my instruments, this was a rather interesting opportunity for me.
The New York Central Railroad disappeared in 1968, into a convoluted series of mergers, with most of the original lines now being operated by CSX, though much equipment still bears NYC reporting marks.
The body is heavily chambered, with a 1/4″ top sawn from the weathered original surface of the plank, and finished with milk paint in a rough approximation of faded “Century Green”, as used by the NYC in the late 60’s, carrying over into the Penn Central merger through the 70’s.
The pickguard is rusted roof tin, and the NYC emblem is from a 1950’s post cereal box.
Bridge and tuners are by Hipshot, and pickups are homespun by me.