Paper Doll

Paper Doll Michael had been to scores of Dead shows through the 70's and 80's, but his carrer took him to Qatar in the 1990s, and with that, it took his time for both enjoying and creating live music. He never lost his love of music, and with a steady supply of CDs from friends in the US, he stayed connected musically. One of the artists that resonated with him most from these long-distance care packages was John Mayer.
Back home in Texas in early 2009, he was able to retire from his day job and devote time to music again. It wasn't too long before his thoughts drifted to getting a custom Tribute. He finally called us in 2013, and got the ball rolling. His request was to combine these two musical loves, and boy were we excited. Only a few months earlier, John Mayer had started his Alembic collection with a Quilted Maple Further guitar which was joined soon after by a vintage Series I and a Satinwood Darling. We were swimming in John Mayer songs at the time, and when Susan suggested "Paper Doll" as the theme, Michael was overjoyed at the concept.
medallion The centerpiece is of course the medallion inlay. A spin on Jerry Garcia's "Rosebud" guitar inlay, this was originally going to have a more literal paper doll look, complete with folding tabs. But then outside events suggested a different dress.
Michael called us with this change just as we were starting the medallion inlay and we quickly reacted to the new request. Luckily we already had the "plumbing" in place for the additional LED array needed to pull off the desired effect.
peghead peghead
Keeping it simple on the peghead with the standard inlaid logo with shell. This one is in sterling silver with golden mother of pearl for the cloud and abalone surrounded by the dragon.
On the back, a single mother of pearl initial M in a sea of churning blue and green paua abalone shell all bound up with a sterling silver surround.
Michael picked one of his favorite lines from John Mayer's song "Paper Doll" for the fingerboard inlay. We cut the letters from mother of pearl to inlay in the Ebony fingerboard. The Ebony fingerboard is bound in Bird's-eye Maple.
sandwich Michael was just beside himself when the guitar arrived. "I almost can't believe it's real!" Michael exclaimed when he called the day he received Paper Doll. "This guitar is everything I had hoped for and more. I'm already thinking of another guitar, but will have to wait about a year."
There was some sorrow the day we shipped Paper Doll as I believe we all fell in love with her in her brief time with us. And Michael, you were a total dream to work with! Can't wait until next year's project.

Front Back


  • Tribute 6-string guitar
  • Carved Coco Bolo top
  • Coco Bolo back
  • Continuous wood backplates
  • Ebony fingerboard
  • Bird's-eye Maple fingerboard binding
  • Custom fingerboard inlay
  • Custom medallion inlay
  • "Paper Doll" nameplate inlay
  • Side LEDs in blue or white
featured custom

Photos and text by Mica Wickersham Thomas, © 2015 Alembic, Inc.

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