Telluride Andrew first approached us to discuss a custom Further guitar. As our talks progressed, it became clear that a Tribute was more to his liking for his first custom Alembic. The Further was set aside for a future build.
Andrew provided Susan with a list of items he wanted to incorporate into the final design: Tribute guitar...check, Telluride Mountains...check, Florentine Scrolls...check, a medallion that would feature a skeletal Jerry Garcia with a Captain Trips Hat...check. Within these guidelines, Andrew gave us the freedom to grow this list into the final design.
To ensure that the Jerry Vibe was undeniable, Susan selected a photo of Jerry playing a guitar and drew a skeleton inside that framework, focusing on certain physical characteristics like how his left shoulder dips and how he tipped his head to left when playing.
In the early 70's the Dead got into wearing Nudie's Rodeo Tailors suits and boots. Jerry's jacket was black with embroidered red and orange roses, plus skulls and tombstones. The pants had a matching motif stitched down the sides of the legs and he had boots to match. As a whole, a little too much detail for the scale of the inlay, so Susan stuck with a few choice roses for the jacket and went with boots to match the Captain Trips hat. Andrew loved the concept, so Susan began sketching the artwork. It all starts with a pencil here.
Medallion Inlay This little masterpiece of shell, metal, wood, stone, and acrylic is beautiful in a photograph, but mesmerizing in person. The dance of light volleying between the mountains is captivating. There's lots of Ebony, black Tahitian mother of pearl, white mother of pearl, white freshwater oyster, Coco Bolo, sterling silver, Maple, blue denim lapis, malachite, coral, red and blue custom cast acrylic, and 18 karat gold.
Medallion Detail Detail picture of the miniature Tribute guitar with a small simple Stealie medallion inlay and an even smaller simplified Alembic logo inlay. The thin piece of Holly outlining the guitar is a shaving from a handplane. This stuff is small. Kris did a masterful job in bringing Susan's inlay artwork to life.

peghead peghead
Traditional treatment for the Tribute guitar is to face the front of the peghead with an Ebony veneer and the back with a matching Coco Bolo veneer. Whenever possible, we use the same board as we've used in the body to make the Coco Bolo veneer in house. It can't possibly be a better match that way.
The inlaid sterling silver logo with white mother of pearl and abalone shell is standard on Tribute guitars, but looks oh-so-special. Each jeweller's casting is hand fitted with the shell, then inlaid in the peghead when the finish is almost complete. The inlay is under the finish, and is absolutely smooth to the touch.
hardware We make the bridges, tailpiece, and string nuts right here in our shop. Each is made individually, so custom string spacing or finishes are an every day thing for us. Here on Andrew's guitar, the finish is polished to a high lustre, then 24 karat gold plated.
The top-loading tailpiece has a solid brass top section (gold plated of course) attached to an Ebony lower section. The Ebony is shaped by hand to match the carved top of the guitar.
Sandwich Hippie sandwich view of the body reveals the many layers that make up Telluride. The top is an extra thick slice of Coco Bolo to accomodate the carved contours on the front. Nestled up to the top is a thin veneer of Maple and an accent laminate in Vermilion. The body core is Flame Maple and then the whole show repeats on the back.
Even a "standard" Tribute is a special guitar. Each piece of Coco Bolo is so unique and different, and when we carve the top, what the bookmatch loses in symmetry, it gains in artistry. The grain looks as if it is dripping down from the horns in such an organic and natural way, it's almost as if we spent hours poring over stacks of wood and considered thought on the template placement.
Actually, that's just what happens! Susan personally selects each board and lays out the body and peghead templates for every build. She's always mindful of what will be routed away or covered by hardware and knobs.
Logo Nice little closeup of the inlaid Alembic logo in sterling silver, mother of pearl and abalone.
We couldn't have asked for a more fun and liberating project! Andrew was such a pleasure to work with, and his gentle direction and trust in Susan's aesthetic let us create what will surely be a future family heirloom, and a vessel for making music right now.

Front Back


  • Tribute guitar
  • Carved Coco Bolo top
  • Coco Bolo back
  • Flame Maple, Purpleheart, and Cherry neck
  • Ebony fingerboard
  • Florentine Scrolls fingerboard inlay
  • Jerry at Telluride medallion inlay
  • Inlaid logo
  • Continuous wood backplates
  • 24 karat gold plated hardware
  • Concealed hardware bridge
  • Top-loading tailpiece
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Text by Mica Wickersham Thomas © 2016 Alembic, Inc.
Photos by Mica Wickersham Thomas, © 2016 Alembic, Inc.

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