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The Frankenstein Guitar | Teach Yourself Guitar Now

The Frankenstein Guitar

Artists and musicians are renowned for living in a world far removed from the real one. For them, reality is a vague concept that afflicts others while they are allowed to roam freely and express their creativity in any form that they choose. When an artist and a musician get together to collaborate on a project, you can be sure that they will create a unique, off-the-wall and functional piece of art.

Stephen McSwain is a luthier (string instrument maker), musician and artist living in Los Angeles. Blessed with a double dose of creativity, he decided to liven up the image of standard guitars by applying his idea of “functional art”. His first attempt was completely experimental. By carving faces in the wood of the guitar by hand, he ended up with a masterpiece that now belongs to Grammy Award winner Steve Vai.

His pieces are now in great demand by so many musicians that there is a waiting list. However famous his clients are, Steve doesn’t rush his work to meet any deadlines. He works with great care, creating each guitar by hand and ensuring they all meet his high standards to become prized collector’s pieces of art.

Clients can bring in their own designs or merely discuss want they would like with Steve, and he will make their visions come to life. He chooses the kind of wood that will best suit the shape of the guitar without affecting its sound, and sets to work carving out the design with a knife. Depending on the client’s needs, metal might need to be polished, etched and riveted to the wood. The wood might need to be scorched, and sundry miscellaneous items salvaged from scrap heaps to be attached to the evolving guitar in various ways.

One of his favourite and most famous guitars is the Frankenstein guitar. Frankenstein has a maple top and mahogany tone chambered body with a three-piece mahogany neck. The fret board is ebony, maple and purple heart, all stitched together with leather cord. The guitar is adorned with red leather dye to get a bloody realism effect.

Slash, of Guns ‘n Roses fame, saw the Frankenstein and immediately had to have an original McSwain guitar for his wife. He went with a Wizard of Oz theme, as she is a huge fan, and together with McSwain, came up with a Wicked Witch of the West guitar. She has eyes that glow in the dark, and teeth made from cow bone rubbed with black powder for a nasty rotten effect. Two of her wicked monkeys fly at her side. Their eyes also glow in the dark and they have sinister grins that follow you around the room.

Steve’s designs are as varied as the artists he counts as his clients. Among the guitars he’s created are an alien, a viper, a KISS guitar with all the members of the band in full regalia, the Star Trek Enterprise because even celebrated musicians can be Trekkies, and an elaborate vision of space.

Musicians are artists with creative needs that are not always fulfilled through the creation of lyrics and notes. Sometimes they need to express themselves in other ways. Hence we got Rod Stewart in Spandex pants and big hair, Freddie Mercury’s topless strut and now, unique guitars that reflect the artist’s lives, loves and bizarre tastes. Long live creative expression!

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Sandra wrote this article for the online marketers Pop Music News site index on pop music culture and trends [] one of the leading site indexes on upcoming music events, trends and news snippets.

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