Eyes Over the World

Eyes Over the World
Courtney spent a fair amount of time living and climbing in Nepal. The memories of the mountains viewed at night was the inspiration for the medallion inlay on this month's Featured Custom. Court had a clear vision of the design and emailed some photos of the mountain to us for a guideline. We then proceeded with the preliminary concept sketches of Ama Dablam. But Court's own words say it best the day he received "Eyes Over the World".

It has arrived!! I know you all aren't open yet on the West Coast or I would have called. I am fairly speechless, but will try anyway... Beautiful to behold to hold and to hear. Actually it arrived about two hours ago and I immediately tuned it up and gave it a strum, not connected to an amp.
The sound, remarkable. I touched the strings that first time and could not stop. Have been playing non-stop for the last 2 hours and still haven't plugged it in. What a tone! So I am taking a short break to e-mail you all to express my delight and gratitude, before I go warm-up my 30+ year old fender twin.
The inlay work is at the same time exactly what I had hoped for and better than I imagined! It is remarkable to note that even though the photos of Ama Dablam I had sent were daytime the shimmering beauty of the inlay captures the night magic of the mountain when seen illuminated by the searchlight of full moon and myriad stars on a crisp Himalayan night.
All of your collective advice was also spot on, LEDs, especially for the bindi, continuous wood for the back. Speaking of wood I really love the top, but have never seen any wood anywhere as cool looking as the back! So many details and nuances I think I will be noting new superlatives for weeks to come.

Ama Dablam inlay Ama Dablam is a mountain in Nepal. "Ama" means mother, grandmother or even world. "Dablam" means charm box, and is a special pendant worn by elder Sherpa women that holds precious items. The mountain has a hanging glacier that resembles a dablam and the two extending ridges are outstreched like a maternal embrace.Our job was to incorporate these ideals into the inlay. The challenge as always is to graphically portray the image in the inlay materials. We created a nightime view with white mother of pearl to illustrate the snow laden peaks while black Tahitian mother of pearl defined the shadows. Green abalone is the meadow at the base of the mountain. The night sky is ebony with the Orion starfield in sterling silver inlaid at varying depths to suggest the different magnitudes of the stars.
The eyes of Buddha are in green abalone and mother of pearl outlined in yellow agoya shell. The bindi is sterling silver with a center green LED. At first Court was uncertain about the LED, but we assured him that it would add an etheral quality, especially in the night sky outshining the stars.
This is all inlaid in ebony encircled with sterling silver and more ebony completing the medallion. Ama Dablam medallion inlay designed by Susan and inlaid by Mike Gutsch (great job Mike!).
Custom curved tailpiece Mike also hand made this special curved tailpiece to give the inlay more room to live. Simply wrapping the tailpiece around the inlay would have looked odd. Mike chose a curve that fit with both the Tribute shape and the custom medallion inlay. Just like our regular Tribute model, this tailpiece is a combination of Ebony with polished brass.
pickup ring Court really liked the brass ring that he saw on the May 2002 Beyond Further guitar. The lines of the brass plate complement the curves of the scroll inlays and the Tribute body shape itself. We've provided access holes for changing the height of the pickups without removing the ring.
Plate detail The carved top doesn't lend itself to a flat plate being mounted so we matched the curves of the body with ebony carved to fit perfectly. We considered using a thicker piece of brass and carving it directly, but we felt the ebony under the ring made it seem like it was almost floating above the guitar top.
Scrolls inlays
The scroll inlays were first used on the Beyond Further guitar and Courtney was drawn to their lyrical symmetry. Each is hand cut mother of pearl.
Continuous wood backplate Side position markers are green LEDs. These are inlaid in sterling silver circles so that even if the LEDs are off, the marker is still visible. The LEDs also have a diffuser which makes them of a similar brightness all down the length of the fingerboard.
pickup ring Courtney selected his top and back from the Wood Bank. Although his original idea didn't include these lovely continuous wood backplates, Susan suggested this would really be a nice touch to preserve the harmony of the exotic bookmatched to center back.
Cool part of wood It almost seems there is another set of eyes on this instrument. Why shouldn't the back be as pretty as the front?

Court's update from early December, 2003:
It was nice to hear from you today. Actually I have been meaning to drop you all an email to let you know I am more pysched about this wonderful instrument everyday. Would have done so sooner, but have been working like crazy lately (and when not working its hard to put her down for very long). Truthfully I somewhat miss the construction process; the calls and emails, detail and decisions (or often in my case indecisions). I am however just overwhelmed by my guitar and thought I would give you a brief update on what's it been like getting to know her. I am continually surprised and delighted by the new sounds I'm finding. I usually use a small number of effects (3 or 4), but despite the ease and practicality of the built in effects loop I have hardly used them in the last couple weeks. I am still discovering what this guitar can do on its own. I think I mentioned before, upon arrival, I sat down and played without any amplification at all for several hours. So sweet is the natural tone of this guitar. In addition to the mellifluous warmth and charm this guitar has brought to the house the last few weeks it remains quite a feast for the eyes as well. As varied as the myriad tones are the intricacies of detail of the wood grain and the inlays' iridescent abalone and mother of pearl. I really am stunned at how well you all interpreted the sometimes ambiguous and ephemeral ideas I had for the tailpiece inlay into reality. So in short the process of getting to know this art/instrument will be a long and joyful journey that has had an auspicious start.
I will continue from time to time to drop you all a "postcard" from this trip.
Once again my thanks to one and all at Alembic. In this ever increasingly more mass produced McCulture it is always a rare and great treat to find true artisans.

Our deepest thanks to you, Court. It has been a true pleasure working with you to make this guitar come to life.

Inlaid logo Flame Maple Core Pickup ring Ama Dablam inlay
Wisdom Eye detail top wood top wood peghead
Front Back


  • Tribute Guitar
  • Mother of Pearl Scrolls fingerboard inlay
  • Carved Coco Bolo top
  • Coco Bolo back
  • Continuous wood backplates
  • Custom medallion inlay below tailpiece: Ama Damblam and the Wisdom Eye of Buddha
  • Polyester finish with satin neck feel
  • Brass pickup ring
  • Custom curved tailpiece
  • Side LEDs in green
  • Inlaid logo with shell
  • Price available on request
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