Sunrise This guitar is entirely different than the first idea Joe presented to us for a custom guitar. Originally, it was going to have fanned frets. It was also to have a ChromaLusion solid color finish, and a different shape. Over the month or two he designed the guitar with Susan, it transformed a few more times, and it finally settled down into the beautifully understated guitar you see presented on this page, which is rather a remarkable journey.
The feature set itself is remarkable as well. There's lots of little details to explore, and since they were the result of a design process, not an impulsive whim, even that screaming orange color is exactly appropriate and makes the guitar one complete thought.
Wood This gorgeous Quilted Maple top is so very dynamic - a small shift in the angle of view and it changes wildly as evidenced by the different pictures. And the color, oh wow, it truly is like that first crack of dawn, with that arresting golden orange glow that grows across the sky. In person it's always better of course!
Truss Rod Cover Tucked away in the space between the bass pickup and the end of the tulip tip fingerboard is the continuous wood truss rod cover. We make these little wooden wonders by cutting a thin slice of the neck blank and layering with Maple and Purpleheart veneers to create a plate that winds up not looking very much like a plate at all.
Fingerboard inlays were bypassed in favor of a clean swath of Ebony.
plate Continuous wood backplates are crafted along in nearly the same way as the truss rod cover, only first we map the plates' positions on the back of the body wood before gluing the laminates together. Then, the lines are expertly cut with a scroll saw and reserved to contruct the 5-ply wooden plates.
All continuous wood plates are fitted to the guitar before we spray the color so the blended burst pattern is continuous right along with the grain of the wood. Beauty!
peghead peghead
Joe selected the Cone peghead shape for his custom guitar. It matches up great with the body shape, and keeps the sleek theme of the guitar going. The logo is inlaid under the finish with abalone and mother of pearl, plus abalone rays coming from the cloud. We masked off the inlay during the painting process, so the finish is clear over the top of it. A graphite nut keeps the strings from binding when using the tremolo.
The front of the peghead is bookmatched, and reveals something about the structure of Maple trees. Notice how the pattern has a mirror image, but the lustre is offset? That's because when you cut to reveal the bookmatch, the grain on one side is facing up at you, and the grain on the other side is facing down away from you.
skyway Just about the first feature Joe specified for this guitar was the Skyway tremolo. Made by Rick Huff at Skyway Musicical Technology, it's a solidly machined and beautiful piece. Since this was the first guitar we made with this tremolo, and we're lucky enough to live only a short distance from Rick, he visited us a couple of times to help get the installation just right.
wood detail The color is something that we worked on quite a bit. Initially Joe requested an all over tint in orange like many a Guild instrument boasts, but after seeing a progress shot with the sealer coats, he changed his mind. This burst pattern is a single color applied in many layers.
There were a couple of misfires along the way (like scrapping the original tuners, and even the first orange tint), but that didn't detract from us having fun with the process and getting to see this gorgeous Sunrise take shape. We've even decided to use this body as the default shape for our Series I and II guitars. Way to go, Joe!

Front Back


  • Series II 6-string guitar
  • Quilted Maple top and back
  • "Sunrise" orange finish
  • 5-piece Flame Maple, Purpleheart, and Cherry neck
  • Ebony fingerboard with Tulip tip
  • No inlays
  • Side LEDs in amber
  • Inlaid logo with shell and rays
  • Darling II body with Heart Omega
  • Goldplated Skyway tremolo
  • Goldplated Sperzel locking tuners
  • Recessed goldplated Dunlop straplocks
  • Graphite nut
  • Series II electronics with sidemounted output jacks
  • Continuous wood backplates
  • Continuous wood truss rod cover
featured custom

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Text and photos of guitar by Mica Wickersham Thomas, © 2010 Alembic, Inc.

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