Fantasy It all started one morning in early 2013 when cruising through Google images, focusing on "guitars," I stumbled upon an absolutely stunning guitar made by a company called Alembic… it was a Tribute. The basic form grabbed me. It clicked that I had seen a resemblance to this guitar years ago and noted one like it was played by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. Although his guitar was not a ‘true’ Alembic.

I visited the Alembic web site and became utterly enthralled with the layout of guitars, options, woods, inlays, company history, and, clearly, the fastidious and quality oriented approach taken during the fabrication of their products. It took me several months of procrastinating before I took the plunge and emailed Susan Wickersham to discuss ordering my "dream" guitar.

Fantasy Nameplate Being somewhat of a perfectionist, I laid out a very detailed specifications list which Susan received, graciously I might add. This lead to numerous email exchanges until the final design was agreed upon and the build began. During the course of the build, I am sure Susan was on the verge of becoming totally exasperated with me, given my barrage of questions, concerns, and comments. She remained calm and professional.
[Fantasy nameplate inlaid in mother of pearl.]
Orca Inlay I am now convinced her knowledge of what ultimately lay at the end of the build, regarding the incomparable excellence of the instrument, totally allayed any fears that I would be disappointed in any way. As a result, her subtlety projected confidence on the phone and emails made me feel comfortable throughout the build. Given I am a firm believer in Murphy's Law, coupled with the plague of perfectionism, allaying my fears was no easy feat, but she did; ok, let's say to the tune of 99%.

[Coyote medallion inlaid in agoya shell, black mother of pearl, recon spiny oyster, recon coral, synthetic tortoise shell, ebony, abalone, sterling silver, and family diamonds.]
Jade inlay This guitar is to be bequeathed to my son. As a result, there were design elements which I specified identifying father and son. Some very personal items were incorporated into the guitar headstock, neck, and body. The back of the headstock has my first initial, my age when the Tribute was built, and an 18-carat gold medallion with the year of my birth. The front of the headstock has the beautiful Alembic logo, an incredible dragonfly, and my peridot birthstone. The first fret has my son's name.
[Jade inlaid in mother of pearl, paua abalone with sterling silver binding]

butterfly inlay A striking butterfly was inlaid at the twelfth fret. The sky of the marvellous coyote medallion is made up of seven family diamonds I wished included in this masterpiece. The array of stars in the sky simulates the star layout on the month, day, year, and time I was born above the city in Canada where my birth took place. The dragonfly and butterfly represent the insects I studied for my Ph.D. dissertation. The coyote represents the wildlife I studied for my M.Sc. dissertation. The green LED fret markers are of my favourite colour. The 24-carat gold plating of the hardware added to the status this guitar held in my mind.
[Butterfly inlaid in gold and black mother of pearl, red pearloid, abalone, and sterling silver.]
peghead peghead
My Tribute arrived via courier one morning last week. The case lay on my dining room table unopened for 10 minutes. I ruminated on the thoughts and feelings of "day 1," placing the order, and now, receiving the guitar, and envisioned what lay inside the case - it was a bit intimidating and somewhat nerve-wracking. I thought, "will I see anything that displeases me?" Of course Murphy was front and centre in my mind, but I shooed him off. I slowly raised the top of the case, admittedly with an elevated heart rate.
Logo Inlay My eyes first met the gorgeous Cocobolo body and the top grain; it was simply beautiful. Susan had outdone herself in selecting a spectacular grain. I closed my eyes and a host of emotions came flooding in. The painful disappointment I felt when as a young kid my parents ignored my deep desire to have a guitar. They were too wrapped up in their own troubled lives to hear me.
[Logo inlaid in sterling silver, gold mother of pearl, abalone.]
Dragonfly inlay My love of guitars and the fantasy I had of becoming a rock star, or at the very least a highly accomplished guitarist, surfaced in waves. Of course, neither of these came to fruition. However, I did name my Tribute FANTASY, thus representing and confirming my dream. I took the academic path and became a scientist enmeshed in the Agent Orange debacle in Viet Nam. It was an intensely rewarding journey studying the impact of Agent Orange on the environment and people of Viet Nam.
[Dragonfly inlaid in agoya shell, black and white mother of pearl, abalone citrine.]
Peridot My eyes watered as I gently raised Fantasy from its plush case. Overwhelmed is the best description: simply, totally, and unequivocally overwhelmed. Perfection was achieved by Alembic - my stating this fact rarely happens in my life; it did that morning. -Wayne

[Peridot set in sterling silver bezel.]

Tailpiece Our curved tailpiece shape is tailored to echo the shape of the medallion inlay. We craft this from solid brass mated to Ebony which is contoured to match the carving of the top. All the brass hardware is then plated in 24 karat gold.
Binding detail The Bird's-eye Maple binding is a first for a Tribute guitar. When we are picking out such a small piece, it's not too hard to aim for the amazing figure.
To emphasize the different maples, we used a thin Ebony veneer between the neck and the fingerboard. That clean line looks so sharp!
LEDs Green LEDs (Wayne's favorite color!) along the side to light the way. Each one has a tiny sterling silver circle inlaid around it so even when the lights are off, the position has a clear marker.

Sandwich Sinuous hippie sandwich unwinds to show all seven layers of goodness. Coco Bolo, Maple, Vermilion, and Flame Maple look delicious.
W inlay The W is inlaid in mother of pearl set in a sea of blue and green abalone shell with a sterling silver binding.
As a bit of a font nerd, I was rather stumped by this letter Wayne provided. Later, he revealed to me it was the inverted "M" of Princess Margaret's monogram.
70th inlay "To Susan, Mica, Ron, and the entire Alembic staff, I express infinite gratitude for creating one of the most exquisite guitars on the planet. Your unique expertise has unveiled a genius for meticulous and unparalleled workmanship, artistry, and elegance. Over 50 years of dreaming have come to an end. The young kid, and now the 70-year old, whisper a humble and respectful 'Thank you.'"
[70th inlaid in agoya shell.]
1944 Wayne, your words are so moving. It's our honor to have crafted this family heirloom for you to enjoy now. And it was our humble pleasure to have your confidence to embark on such a journey, and we thank you in return.

[1944 medallion in 18K gold reclaimed from family rings.]

Front Back


  • Custom Tribute 6-string guitar
  • Carved Coco Bolo top
  • Coco Bolo back
  • Continuous wood backplates
  • Flame Maple body core
  • Flame Maple, Purpleheart, and Cherry set neck
  • Ebony fingerboard with Bird's-eye Maple binding
  • "Fantasy" nameplate inlay
  • "Jade" and "Butterfly" custom fingerboard inlays
  • Abalone oval inlays with sterling silver surrounds
  • Inlaid logo with shell, "Dragonfly," and "Peridot in bezel" custom peghead inlays
  • "W," "70th," and "1944" custom inlays on back of peghead
  • Side LEDs in green
  • 24K gold plated hardware
  • Gold control knobs
  • "Coyote" medallion with birthdate star detail
  • Ordered through Club Bass
featured custom

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Text by Mica W Thomas and Dr. Wayne Dwernychuk, © 2015 Alembic, Inc.
Photos by Mica W Thomas, © 2015 Alembic, Inc.

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