Ripple Michael's first Alembic was a stock Tribute he bought from his dealer in Connecticut. After a time with that instrument, he decided he wanted something more personal, a family heirloom, and we started to design a custom Further guitar.
After Michael called Susan and discussed the details, the general theme for a fingerboard inlay took shape. The design was to include him, his wife, and his four children cast as skeletons. Building the guitar was the easy part, we do that every day. The medallion and harp with the references to Ripple provided plenty of inspiration for Susan, but the family "skeleton portraits" proved to be another thing entirely.
After several different designs (that she didn't even show to Michael), she asked him for new pictures of everyone, and that did the trick! The kids were a little older now, and even more defined in their personalities. The drawings started to take shape quickly.
Fingerboard Inlays The fingerboard is a collection of six main skeleton inlays, each to represent the family members. Not only are each person's interests represented, but the inlays needed to resemble each person. This was no small task! Of course we take some creative liberties with things like eyebrows to help, but the most important thing is the shape of the skull. All of the bones are mother of pearl, and keep in mind that each individual tooth is a separate inlay, and everything is hand-cut, right here at Alembic.
For mom, we have her sitting in a Queen Anne chair reading to her children. The chair is made from various colors of Corian (yes, the countertopstuff). Her blouse is abalone paired with a denim lapis skirt with black mother of pearl for shading.
Their oldest son is just chilling and enjoying music. His iPod is abalone and sterling silver and he's wearing a baseball jersey in Corian, malachite, and lapis.
For the oldest daughter, she's shown in a golden mother of pearl dress accented with red sparkle acrylic, ballet dancing. The ribbon in her black mother of pearl hair coordinates with the trim on the dress and her shoes.
Their younger son is drumming away on his custom kit made from purple acrylic with sterling silver and 18 karat gold hardware and mother of pearl heads. His stool is black mother of pearl and sterling silver, and we just love the purple stripe detail on his red shoes!
Dad and the youngest daughter are at the end of the fingerboard. She is sitting near him, attentively listening to him play guitar. The music from the guitar and the harp are the songs filling the air.
Simple Stealie Inlay We've inlaid the "harp unstrung" with a Flame Koa soundbox, column and harmonic curve. The soundboard is bookmatched Flame Maple with a center strip of Flame Koa. The eleven tuning pins are sterling silver and match eleven Ebony eyelets. The column has white mother of pearl and gold mother of pearl as decorative elements. The shadow in the shoulder is formed with black mother of pearl. For the base we've used abalone, sterling silver and 18 karat gold.

Ripple Medallion The medallion on Ripple is simple and charming. The window panes are our favorite feature in this inlay, each cut from a separate piece of mother of pearl selected for color, then inlaid so that the iridescence flashes from differing angles, creating a sparkle effect, which looks as warm and inviting as the fire that is lit in the fireplace. A mother of pearl ring surrounds the scene, with lines from the Grateful Dead's "Ripple" carved through. These words resonate a deep personal meaning to Michael, celebrating the life of his older sister, who was taken by leukemia when he was a young child. His connection to his sister is reflected in the empty swing and the broken branch.
The field of grass is inlaid in malachite, the golden mother of pearl sun is peeking over jasper hills and lighting a morning sky of bronze mother of pearl. The tree is in Lacewood and abalone with an abalone and sterling silver swing.
The road less traveled is Ebony with golden mother of pearl lines, done in a style to remind one of a child's drawing. The path to the mother of pearl house is paved in black mother of pearl. A red coral front door has a gold doorknob.
hardware Michael opted for the standard polished brass hardware. On the Further model, the adjustment for bridge intonation is concealed within the bridge rail, accessable through the small holes seen in this image.
The tailpiece is curved to match the shape of the medallion inlay, and is top-loading with keyhole access. An Ebony shim completes the look.
peghead peghead
Classic Alembic Crown peghead shape matches so beautifully with the Further body shape. The front veneer is Ebony, and the logo inlaid with mother of pearl and abalone with the abalone rays. The edge of the front of the peghead is beveled, revealing the layers of Maple and Purpleheart veneer that reinforce it.

On the back of the peghead, a simplified Stealie inlay, reduced to just the fields of color and the lightning bolt.

LEDs Amber and red side LEDs are each bound in sterling silver so that they are visible as position markers when not illuminated. Overall brightness is controlled by a small trimpot in the electronics cavity. On the front of the guitar is a switch for turning the LEDs on or off.
Logo We selected especially blue paua shell for the rays and circle in this logo inlay. The mother of pearl has a lovely fluffy cloud-like texture to the figuring.
We just love Ripple. Everyone worked so hard to make this dream a reality, and we really miss her! We know we took a lot longer than expected to complete this guitar, and we were glad to learn that Michael felt it was worth the wait, as we lost ourselves in the inlay process. Another report was that the kids love to show their skeleton selves off to their friends.
We hope this guitar becomes a hand-me-down, as a testament to your love of music, art, and family.

Front Back


  • Further 6-string guitar
  • 5A Quilted Maple top bookmatched to center
  • Flame Maple back
  • Purpleheart body core
  • Flame Maple, Purpleheart, and Cherry neck
  • Ebony fingerboard with custom inlays
  • Custom medallion inlay
  • Custom peghead inlays
  • Inlaid logo with shell plus rays
  • side LEDs in amber with red
featured custom

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Text by Mica Wickersham Thomas © 2016 Alembic, Inc.
Photos by Mica Wickersham Thomas, © 2016 Alembic, Inc.

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