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Grateful Dead Tribute Guitar

I have always wanted to do this piece. Ever since I was a kid and had the poster in my room, I have wanted to make the Blues for Allah design as an inlay. Well, I finally got my chance when Alan Hamm of Kensington, MD wanted to make a Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia tribute guitar. He found a very talented man to build the guitar and then needed inlay for the headstock, fretboard, and a special medallion piece for under the bridge like Jerry Garcia use to use on his custom guitars. However we decided not to copy one of Jerry's designs and come up with something a little more special. This piece combines three different methods of inlay; traditional (shell into wood), etching (scratch and ink the pearl), and shell painting (paint applied to the shell for effect).

Alan had this to say about the final piece; "It just arrived a few minutes ago. Oh, My God!. You are correct sir, the pictures cannot possibly capture how good this is. I hope you are still real proud of this because you should be! The MOP just sparkles and the glasses turned out terrific. The hair is perfect. The pictures just don’t capture how good it is.

I really enjoyed working with you on this and hope I can steer some more work your way. I am planning on having Shawn build another guitar in a few years so don’t retire! Thanks for everything!"

As a change of pace, I decided to show lots of pictures as the pieces are cut and fitted, so you can get the same pleasure I get in watching a piece like this come to life. It always start with the artwork.

Inlay Eliza Grateful Dead Guitar Inlay

This piece needed two wood bases; one for the violinist and one to anchor the frame. Here the ebony has already been routed to hole the shell and stone.

Inlay frame Grateful Dead Guitar Inlay

This is how the frame will hold the main art work.

Inlay frame Grateful Dead Guitar Inlay

Early pieces of the rob are being fitted. The rod is made of bloody jasper, black red agate, on onxy. The frame is made of black grey granit and white marble.

Inlay frame Grateful Dead Guitar Inlay

All the pieces of the rob are cut and fitted.

Inlay frame Grateful Dead Guitar Inlay

The bones and hair are now complete.

Inlay frame Grateful Dead Guitar Inlay

The sun glasses in this design are a major part of the art and have to be right. I'm using an acrylic for the lens. I usually don't use fake materials, but I needed something bright red and shiny and I didn't have any real material that fit the bill. Sometime you have to bend the rules to make things right.

Inlay frame Grateful Dead Guitar Inlay

Now I add in the violin. It's really starting to look like something now.

Inlay frame Grateful Dead Guitar Inlay

Some gold MOP trim and it is was time to glue it all up and polish it out.

Inlay frame Grateful Dead Guitar Inlay

Next step was to etch the piece. Look at the hands and the teeth and you'll see how much this helps the detail.

Inlay frame Grateful Dead Guitar Inlay

It's done. I shell painted the hair in order to give it an errie look. This was done by using a technique called dry brushing. The shine spot on the glasses and the shimmer detail in the violin where also painted. I'm thrill how this came out.

Inlay frame Grateful Dead Guitar Inlay

I have been promised photos of this piece when it is embedded in the guitar. I will add those photos here when they are available.

Here are some of the other inlays that will go on the guitar.

Grateful Dear Guitar Inlay Bear Grateful Dead Lightning Bolt Fretboard Fretmarker Inlay
Grateful Dear Guitar Inlay Bear

Here are pictures of the finished guitar.

Inlay frame Grateful Dead Guitar Inlay Inlay frame Grateful Dead Guitar Inlay
Inlay frame Grateful Dead Guitar Inlay
Inlay frame Grateful Dead Guitar Inlay Inlay frame Grateful Dead Guitar Inlay
Inlay frame Grateful Dead Guitar Inlay Inlay frame Grateful Dead Guitar Inlay