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
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
We also use the logo without the Alembic script on all guitars, it's more like a secret society that way.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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Photograph of Sonoma Mountain under fog © 2004 Mica Wickersham
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