Ghost Crow

Tom's Ghost Crow Tom's dream was to incorporate a tribute to his beloved Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Crow in his custom Skylark. After discussing the idea with Susan, she presented him with a drawing for aprroval. After receiving the "Ghost Crow," Tom wrote Susan the following letter:
Thank you so much for your masterful efforts in the design and creation of the "Ghost Crow" Skylark. I have been playing it for hours every day since it arrived and just can't get over the quality of tone and construction. The fine artisans at Alembic have created a most remarkable fusion of Art, Science and Craftsmanship in the instruments that you produce. I truly appreciate the opportunity I've had to collaborate with you and your team on such a beautiful guitar.

ghost crow I have mentioned this to you already but it bears repeating, the image you created for the inlay is absolutely perfect and the piece of mother of pearl selected gives the crow a three-dimensional quality and the appearance of feathers. Brilliant! I realize that in the scope of wonderful instruments you create for your customers and clients making a Skylark with a small inlay is pretty much an ordinary, every-day kind of thing for Alembic. To me, though, this guitar will remain a cherished masterwork; from the appearance of the wood (which calls to mind my own paintings), the beautiful crow (a tribute to a wonderful animal), to the fine craftsmanship evident in every inch of the instrument, to the amazing playability and tone (blending Art and Science); I will use it to create music and the pebble that you have dropped into the pool will continue to ripple for a long time. -Tom

Peghead Usually on the Skylark guitar, we use an Ebony front veneer on the peghead. On this one, we thought a matching Coco Bolo veneer would look even better, especially since Chip selected such an excellent piece to coordinate with the top wood.
We also use the logo without the Alembic script on all guitars, it's more like a secret society that way.
peghead back On the back of a typical Skylark, we use a veneer that matches the top, so this part while standard, is still pretty cool - Chip used the next slice of veneer that he used on the front of the peghead. Each face has a nice big loop section in the center framed by more straight grain, sort of the inverse of the top wood.
Interior peghead veneers are Maple and Walnut, which coordinate with the neck construction. Just at the end of the Walnut veneer at the boundry between the neck and the peghead, you can see how the finish changes from gloss on the peghead to satin on the neck. This satin neck rubout makes an extremely fast neck, without risk of sticking.
Lower horn Since Skylarks have a double thick (one half inch) top laminate, using a full thickness Coco Bolo would be quite expensive. Susan loves the accent laminates, and suggested this combination of a Maple pinstripe (veneer) atop a one quarter inch slab of Vermilion. Once the decorative routed edge is shaped, the final effect is stunning.
Nearest neighbor plate A close cousin to the continuous wood backplates, these Nearest Neighbor plates are made in a similar fashion, only we use the next successive slice of wood the decorative face. It's as close as you can get to continuous on a solid or hybrid construction instrument.
Before we glue the top of the Skylark in place, we hollow out a good section of the upper body half to reduce the weight. This is called "hybrid" construction.
fingerboard In the short time that the Ghost Crow has been with me, she has already become like and old friend. My other guitars enjoy the luxury of resting in their cases as Crow gets the lion's share of play these days. Everywhere I go with the guitar people are amazed by its beauty and its rich voice. Though it took a little time, I have grown comfortable with the incredible electronics, and I really love the tonal range and versatility. I myself am still arrested by the beauty of this instrument - sometimes I open the case and just stare at the guitar for a while before lifting it out to play. This Skylark is endowed with the spirit of its namesake and will remain a life-long companion.
When I play this guitar I extend my gratitude to all of the extraordinary artists and craftsmen at Alembic and celebrate your magic.

Tom - we're just as thrilled as you are with the Ghost Crow. It's got simplicity and elegance, and a wonderful personal story to go along with it. We thank you for letting us build it for you.


Front Back


  • Skylark 6-string guitar
  • Coco Bolo top
  • Vermilion accent laminate and Maple pinstripe
  • Maple neck with Walnut pinstripes
  • Custom Ghost Crow fingerboard inlay
  • Nearest neighbor wood backplates
  • Polyester gloss finish with satin neck feel
  • Purchased through Bass Central
featured custom

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Photograph of Sonoma Mountain under fog © 2004 Mica Wickersham
Text and Photographs of guitar © 2005 Alembic, Inc.
Original artwork © 2004 Susan L. Wickersham

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