Custom Guitar: Trey Anastasio Replica

Posted by in Guitar, Personal, Phish with 56 Comments

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, April 9th—-The neck shape roughly carved out.

Look at that padauk stripe. AMAZING! And the curl on the maple is sooo good.

2010, April 22nd—-Ebony lam glued to the maple, getting ready for the headstock cut out.

2010, April 23rd—-The headstock cut out.

The shape is perfect!

2010, June 17th—-Started designing some NEW AO BUSINESS CARDS.

2010, August 15th—-The fingerboard.

And Andrew snapped a little mockup of the woods…

2010, November 17th—-The headstock double channel carve. The carves around the border of the headstock are cut out to allow for the intense binding that will soon follow

2010, November 18th—-Here is a finger held mock-up of the custom made binding. binding put into place

2010, November 22th—-The first piece of the binding is glued and held in place.

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, November 30th—Andrew finished up the full first layer of binding on the headstock. Look at those miters, perfection!

2010, December 19th—Headstock bound! Can’t to see this bad boy trimmed/cleaned. If this layer looks anything like the first layer I know I’ll be thrilled.

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.

And finally, I just couldn’t resist taking this pic…

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.

2012, February 23rd—Edges cleaned up.

2012, October 9th—All right, back in the swing of things here: AO carved out the neck pocket and mocked up the guitar all on it’s own.

2012, October 10th—Neck Carve phase 1

2012, October 11th—Neck Carve phase 2. This will do it for “carving” the rest of the shaping will done with the sander after the neck is fretted.

2012, November 5th—DOTS.

2012, November 9th—Fretting Process.

2013, January 10th—First Layer of Body Binding.

2013, January 31st—Body Binding

2013, February 8th—Closeup of binding with wet-down wood.

2013, March 18th—Things being carved and fit.

2014, January 28th—Okay, been a while for various reasons……but alas I think we are back on track. Attached is small update done to the horn BWB binding. Those miters look pretty tight.

2014, February 7th—All binding work done. All that’s left is some sanding, and building out the ebony pieces and such. Then off to the finish booth. Hopefully next week.

2014, February 12th—Practice bridge. Looks good, on to ebony!

2014, February 14th—Ebony Bridge

2014, March 4th—Practice Tailpiece (with the hunk of ebony as a teaser)

2014, March 4th— And the ebony tailpiece carve.

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, May 9th— AO came back with this shape, I’m a huge fan. Looks like the final sands are getting closer too.

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

56 Responses to Custom Guitar: Trey Anastasio Replica

  1. Spencer Fisk

    Man…that is suuuhweeeeeeeet! So jealous.

  2. qualieeb

    getting close… been following this blog for a while now. When is it due? any new updates?

  3. q

    Been Following this for a while… When are you getting it? heard any updates lately?

    • patrick

      I was actually away for a few weeks. Spoke to Andrew yesterday and said he would be sending some pics soon.
      No word on an actual “done” date. I keep telling him not to rush, take his time. I don’t “need” it for anything, so why rush anything, right?

  4. rick

    Man thats awesome work,
    I was wondering if you were also wiring the replica the same as treys newer Languedoc? Master volume, master tone, three-position selector, double/single coil switch, and series/parallel switch…
    Im trying to rewire my guitar to mimic treys and was wondering if you could give me a point in the right direction.

  5. carl

    looks great. Have been following the progress. Let’s see more updates. Also, Equator Instruments has great Languedoc inspired guitars. Unlike Paul, you can have any woods you want. Haven’t played one yet, but hope to.

  6. Henrietta

    We have been sitting on the same picture since september, we got to see more progress!! we are dying over here!! I want to put my order in for one but I want to see how it turns out.

  7. Cosmo

    Is this still in process? I would love to see the final piece

  8. George

    Almost a year since any picture updates!!! What’s up with this guitar? Has there been any progress in the last 11 months?

  9. Jamey Hampton

    You know, Paul will build you a guitar. He’s built 2 for me. He builds 10 or 12 at a time, is a wonderful, reasonable person to deal with, and you would have a real Languedoc. I don’t doubt that the guitar you end up with will be fine and playable, but I think it’s unfortunate that it copies Paul’s headstock design, inlays, etc. so closely…it’s walking a very fine line between homage and appropriation.
    Just sayin’.

    • patrick

      Yeah, I would love to have Paul build a guitar for me. I’ve contacted him a few times in the past and didn’t hear back. Despite having this guitar built, I continue to try to reach Paul.

  10. Nate

    Do mind telling me how much you spent on this? I’ve been looking to get a Languedoc copy too.

  11. Can’t wait to see how it turns out…looks stunning!

  12. Ed

    Hey – I’ve been following your build, however, photos on this page will no longer load. Everything is redirecting back to your home page!

    • patrick

      Hi Ed,
      Yeah, I know about the problem . I’m trying to update my site and it’s turning into a nightmare. Everything will hopefully be back up and running soon.

  13. Pingback: Logo Design: Funk Park Rangers - Patrick Stefanski - The Blog of a 3D Artist

  14. izabella

    The only difference I can see in your replica is the Bridge, is that the bridge that is being used or is that just a mock up bridge? either way I am sure it plays and sounds amazing, but with the attention to deatail on every aspect, the bridge kinda grabbed my attention. enjoy looks like you are almost there to having a guitar that everyone wishes they could play once in there lives.

    • patrick

      Yeah that is not the bridge that will be on the final piece. It will be more like the real deal. But, one thing that is different are the ebony pickupcover freshly carved by AO.

  15. Keith

    Does the top and/or back arc like on an archtop or is it relatively flat like an acoustic or completely flat like a strat?

  16. Corey

    Hi. First, what a great exercise in patience! I would be losing my mind.

    So I was wondering if you have photos of the inside bracing? I understand Trey’s is braces somewhat like a violin.

    Many thanks.

    • patrick

      I actually don’t have any handy, I did see it though and yes it’s really just the purfling used around the interior walls.

  17. Thomas

    beautiful, looks like everything was ready to be fit together in march. Any update thus far?

    • patrick

      Yeah, I actually asked Andrew to help me with something else a little more important, so we finished off that other project and hopefully he’ll be back on this soon enough.

  18. Hi, How is that guitar coming along? Is it getting near finished yet? Lot of people waiting to see the final product.

  19. Drew

    Looks like you guys are good at what you do. Keep up the good work, looks amazing.

  20. ted

    4 and a half years? Seems like a LONG Build Time. Good Looking Guitar but this process is SLOW. Are you sure he didnt make off with your money? Not One Update since March? Its almost funny at this point, who would put themselves through this kind of torture.

  21. Travis

    Living vicariously thru this blog…did u have a musical Christmas?

  22. Mike

    Bridge test looks really sweet. The binding at the ends of the horns look very nice as well. Worth the wait. Looking forward to seeing a lot of detailed finished photos.

  23. Hello Patrick,

    Thank you for sharing and congratulations on an INCREDIBLE build!!!!! You’ve clearly chosen the right luthier/Artist for the job, I’m beyond impressed with how things are turning out, the binding work is nothing short of mind blowing! I will definitely be checking back daily so I don’t miss the big reveal!

    I can kind of empathize with how excited you must be waiting for your guitar to be completed, I’ve got a custom full hollow body Heritage Prospect currently being built by Heritage Guitars in Kalamazoo Michigan. I’m hoping to pick it up sometime in the late spring or early summer.

    Is the tailpiece going to be custom (ebony?) on your guitar as well, if not, who makes it?

    Great work you guys!!

    Matt Jay

  24. Matt Jay

    What’s the hold up Hombre?

    I’m over here waiting 2 months since your you last post, do you go to jail?

  25. Josh

    What’s going on?? Did you get it yet?.. Is it still in progress

  26. Joel

    Coming up on your 5 year Anniversary if I am following the dates correctly. I think I could learn how to build this guitar in 5 years, and I am terrible at fixing or building anything. Looks great and I would love to be the owner of one, but if I order now, I am not sure where I will be in 2020.


  27. Leo Scotch

    Soooo?!??! Dying to see how this turned out.

  28. Tony

    I just checked in to this blog after not seeing it for about 2 years. I would be interested in knowing what the hold up is on this guitar , but I must say, it is the most genuine-looking Languedoc copy I’ve seen out there, and Ive seen them all. Very nice work by your luthier. As a woodworker/ musician myself, I built one of these for myself about 3 years ago. It took me about 100 hours, and having never built a guitar before, I watched countless hours of youtube videos and researched and read a ton about it online. This is actually how I came across this blog. I believe I even used some of your photos as reference. I’m very happy with my guitar and it plays beautifully, but it’s not perfect and I consider it a prototype. I also cheated and bought a premade neck off ebay and modified it. I plan on making another very soon and hope to construct it to the quality of yours. I would love to hear from you about your guitar.

    • Mikey

      Can you post some pics of your guitar? I am starting a build of my own and would love to get some insights on your build.

  29. Mikey

    Seems like an epic journey. I have been following for a little, and feel the pain for the unfinished trey oosie. This blog has inspired me to make my own oosie. I have an Olson, which is surprisingly well balanced and sounds great, but lacks the finer details of a $10k languedoc. I was curious how Andrew carved the top and bottom. Did he round out the insides with a CNC? Was most of the carving done with the sander?

  30. Anything yet? Have you heard from him? what has happened since November?

  31. Matt

    Looks great! I built a semi hollow body copy like that a few years back. Your workmanship is impressive! I modeled mine after the Languedoc, but yours is far nicer. Congrats!

  32. Beer

    Curious the status of this guitar. Finished? What is the price range you paid on this item? Curious if your experience has been worth the time and money. Cheers!

  33. Is it done yet after five years? I am assuming it is not or there would have been an update. people would sue me if it took me that long to build one.

  34. Rob303

    Really cool to see this built in steps. Although, I was shocked as I watched the timeline expand beyond belief! I hate to say it, but you probably could’ve gotten an actual Languedoc in less time for not much more money.

    Any updates? What gives? Did this come so far to get scrapped?

  35. Robert

    What happened to this build???

  36. Greg

    This is a fine guitar, and I understand you can’t rush perfection, but over five years!? I could build a car in five years.

  37. Is this guitar finished yet? I have questions lol

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