Behold! Trey Anastasio’s custom Paul Languedoc hollow-bodied electric masterpiece. For years I have always enjoyed the little mini-rush I got pre-concert when I walked into the venue and saw it sitting on stage, foreshadowing the night of amazing music soon to follow.
When I decided recently it was time to upgrade my cheap “store-brand” guitar that I bought when I started playing, I knew exactly what I wanted. The problem, however, is that you can’t buy Trey’s guitar. It was made for him and only him by a man on Phish’s payroll who will never make the exact guitar for anyone else.
I knew if I wanted something close I would have to go custom. After scouring the internet and essentially searching the country trying to find the right person to build my dream guitar, I found the guy I was looking for…Andrew Olson of AO Guitars. From the first conversation I had I knew that he not only knew guitars, but he knew THIS guitar inside and out. I mean, who better to build a Trey replica then a long time Phish fan whose obsession goes even deeper then mine?
I plan to document the whole build from start to finish. Hit the jump for pictures and commentary throughout this amazing process!
The process began in late August 2009. Our first conversation nailed down the some of the very general details (budget, timeline, payment schedule, etc.). We established that we want this guitar to be as close to Trey’s as humanly possible, no detail spared. We are using the same wood, Koa, that Paul used on Trey’s. It is pretty expensive stuff, as it only grows in Hawaii, but the tone it produces is definitely worth it. The Koa will not be stained, just sealed and lacquered with the natural wood shining through. The option exists for a custom headstock inlay, but I have no current plans/designs. We haven’t discussed any electronic components or anything yet, but I plan to use the same pickups/wiring schematics as Trey’s guitar.
What follows is the timeline of events on the build and pictures where applicable. I am definitely suffering from what Andrew refers to on his website as IAS (Instrument Acquisition Syndrome). So this will most likely be most updated blog post ever. Check back regularly for all the updates, and be sure to click the banner and check out AO Guitars’ website. His work is truly amazing.
AO Guitars: Trey Anastasio Replica Timeline
2009, Aug 28—Phone conversation nailing down some details.
2009, Sep 03—AO Guitars receives my down payment which officially begins the process.
2009, Sep 04—Wood Selection! Andrew has a wood guy based out of California who deals with Koa wood. After talking with him, the guy sent Andrew pictures of the different types of Koa he has available (darker, lighter, highly figured, lightly figured.)
I liked the grain and the figure of the 1st image, but the color of the 3rd and 4th.
2009, Sep 05—The koa guy said he has found a piece which is really close to Trey’s.
After seeing this, we knew we had it!
2009, Sep 07—Our Koa set is secured and on it’s way to AO Guitars in Freeport, ME!
2009, Sep 16—Our Koa set has arrived in Freeport, ME. Pics to follow shortly
2009, Sep 17—Here is a shot of the piece that will be used for the top. Pretty damn close, huh?!
2009, Oct 28—Andrew cut the Koa and “slabbed out” the front and back panels. He sent over some pics before he started gluing them together.
I really couldn’t be happier with the wood. The front is so close to Trey’s in so many ways. The back is super-interesting with the spalting and the forked shapes and strong grain framing the center. Beautiful!
Hopefully, I can get Andrew to send some wet down images of them both to get a better idea of the color and figure
2009, Oct 29—Ask and ye shall receive! Andrew sent over some really nice shots. The wood is wet down to bring out the grain and he even framed out the shape. Even from the thumbnail on the email I knew I was going to love it!
2010, Jan 13—Andrew sent over a shot yesterday of the sides that he cut. What he didn’t mention is that he also cleaned up the glue from the front and back, exposing pure greatness. Wow, that wood is fucking stunning. So I guess the next step is to “bend them sides.” He also said he was going to glue up the neck blank soon. I can’t wait.
2010, Feb 4th—Just got a shot of the front and back with a rough cut out…basically setting it up for the carve.
2010, March 26th—NECK! Andrew sent over a shot of the woods he will be using for the neck.
You are are looking at two VERY curly pieces of curly maple sandwiching a sweet piece of Padauk (originally we were going to use the same koa from the body for this stripe, slightly sTREYing from the original, but lo, we ran out of koa and had to resort once again to making this a 100% absolutely perfect awesome replica with the padauk).
2010, March 30th—-The neck glued and being set.
The padauk stripe is now down the size it needs to be(as the original is like this). Now this has to sit for awhile before getting carved.
2010, June 17th—-Started designing some NEW AO BUSINESS CARDS.
And Andrew snapped a little mockup of the woods…
2010, November 23rd—-Now that the headstock is underway, we discussed the inlay. Paul uses his signature on the headstock, so we thought we’d keep tradition and do the same….but with Andrew’s. Andrew sent over a piece of paper he signed a bunch of times and I got my illustrator on and came up wiht some comps. After many rounds, I bring you the 17th and final iteration of what will eventually be my headstock inlay (shown a little bigger then it will actually be).
2010, December 30th—I finally got a chance to head up to Maine and visit the AO shop. It was a blast and I learned a lot. I also got to watch Andrew glue my fingerboard down first hand (although it probably took him 8 times longer than usual since I wouldn’t shut up).
2010, December 31st—We headed back into the shop the next day to check out the results of the gluing.
That’s my neck on the bottom and some other lucky bastards above.
2011, February 13th–The Sides are bent/kerfed/and ready for some glue action
2011, February 23rd—The carving of the top and back has begun, but these next two shots are actually from just before the carve. Just laying the parts on top of one another, but it still rules.
2011, February 24th—The pearl signature Andrew and I worked on is IN!!!!! And it is freaking perfect.
2011, March 11th—Signature Inlay
There is also some serious carving happening. Pics soon
2011, March 17th—The archtop is now an archtop. LOOK AT THAT WOOD!
2011, May 2nd—Fully inlaid neck. Looking sweet.
2011, July 6th—-We be F-Holed, yo!
2011, July 9th—-First layer fully in place.
2011, July 11th—-Tape Removed, ready for the inner white layer!
2011, July 18th—-All inner white pieces in place and drying.
2011, July 19th—-We are F’d!
2011, July 22nd—-Instead of the label, I opted for a handwritten message and a signature brand inside the guitar.
2011, August 30th—-Body Mocked up.
2011, September 1st—-Body being glued.
2011, September 2nd—-All Glued up!
2011, September 2nd—-Again, Andrew mocks up the woods and snaps a pic.
2011, September 8th—-I took another trip up to Maine and swung by AO headquarters. I made Andrew wet down the top so I can snap a sweet pic.
2014, May 2nd— Looks like we’re getting pretty close. Trying out some different tailpiece mounts. I told AO I wasn’t a huge fan of this shape. If you notice the tailpiece split during the drilling, so this is now a junker to test out mounting brackets.
2014, October 23rd—Yep, still on hold. It’s been stuck in the finish booth since July. Apparently some issues with grain filler. We are past 5 years now. It’s hard to even get excited about it at this point. Hoping by end of the year it will be around.
2016, February 13th—Yep, still on hold. Still waiting. It’s almost a joke in the household at this point. “Jeez, you’ll get that guitar before this train comes” etc etc. Really disheartening