One of my earliest memories, as a child, was hearing the steel guitar and being fascinated by the huge angelic tone that seemed to come out of nowhere. This was one of three flags that have stood out in my journey. The second flag was playing a Santa Cruz Guitar Company “Tony Rice” acoustic. I had never played a guitar like that, rich, clear, loud, soft, deep, and easy to play. It had the same qualities and afected me the same as when I first heard the steel guitar. The third flag was hearing Steve Kimock play. It was the same thing, “What is that sound?”. Now looking back, these flags have lead me to where i am today, which is this steel guitar thing.
So over the last couple years Steve and I have been talking about the steel and different things that make one up. We didnt get serious about it until spring of 2012, right after he got his Fretless Phoenix. After many diologes we had a pretty good idea at what to shoot for. Some basic specs. It was filling in the blanks that became a little tricky. How to make it a little different? How can I incorprate “my” thing into this successfully. So I set out on the design and after many, many many hours on the drawing table and making prototypes, mocking things up, im proud to present my latest creation.
At the heart of the instrument ,lies a carbon reinforcemnt beam, sandwiched inbetween the bridg and the bottom of the guitar. This strengthens the body, transfers energy and keeps the guitar from bowing under striung tension. After looking at dozens and dozens of old steel guitars, they all have one thing in common, bowed.
So the other important function is having a solid stance, and with three legs there couldnt be any short cuts. So again I turned to a pro machine shop to get the legs and inserts machined. Stainless steel telescoping legs and aluminum inserts were a must. Getting the angles just right, we decided to put the angle into the threaded portion of the insert. So the insert goes into its pocket straight, and the thread hole is at the angle. This a solid feel and built to last.
The 23″ scale guitar needs a fingerboard. As a pedal steel player, I currently play an Emmons SD-10 and love the fingerboard pattern on it, the colors and configuration. So naturally I incorporated that into my own signature Diamond pattern. Most steel guitars have decorative position markers and are usually som sort of graphic, which makes allot of sense, but as a guitar builder I couldn’t resist to do actual inlaid position markers and fret lines. I use colored corian marks and a Super strong Photoluminescent material for the fret lines. These lines will charge fast, and stay charged for those moments when everything goes dark. AND as a steel player, ive always wanted a hole to place my bar when im not playing, so the felt lined hole works great.
Having fallen in love with the old Bakelite Rickenbacher guitars, I decided to use a solid material that would be the next best thing to bakelite, in my mind. Solid hard rock Maple. This also helps in finishing and getting that “Piano Black” high gloss look with Nitrocellulose. And what better way to compliment it than with the Italian tortoise celluloid headstock and control cover. With the new “Walker” badge, this thing is ready to go together.
The 21:1 Gotoh tuners were a must. For a guitar to be able to accommodate a wide variety of string gauges and tunings, we had to have the best. And as a signature move I do on all my guitars, of course I had to add the dart on the back of the headstock. This helps strengthen the headstock and resist pulling upward under heaver string tension, often 16 though 64 gauge strings are used.
To finish it off, a nice Vinyl cover and custom fit case is needed. The vinyl cover is great for keeping the instrument out, but want it protected. Im amazed at how much more life I get from my strings by using a cover. Of course we had to make it so it matches the carving on the guitar. Also the custom case fits like a glove and is built to last.
Stay tuned for more pictures, soundclips and new colors. Thanks to everyone who helped with make this guitar possible. It has been an amazing adventure and a dream turned to reality to see transform. The future holds some new and exciting twists for this model, keep an eye and ear out for, Piezo pickups under the nut, Momentary kill switches and built in Effects loops. Yes!!
p.s. Heres a link to Fretboard Journals Blog about the guitar.