Rolling Stone, July 9, 1981

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Rolling Stone

US rock magazines


Amazing axes

Bill Stephen

Custom guitars have a special place in rock & roll history From the simple "boxed" guitar of Bo Diddley, to the ornately carved dragon guitar of Van Halen, to the resplendent inlay work on Bob Weir's Ibanez, custom guitars typify an indulgence inherent in the music and cater to the intrinsic showmanship of the artist. The best custom guitars — built by such luthiers as David Russell Young, Danny Ferrington and Steve Helgeson — are statements: the instruments are representative of an art form that merges unique design with the best craftsmanship, resulting in highly playable instruments with a lot of pizazz.

Elvis Costello

The Ferrington Acoustics

Elvis Costello's reputation is not that of a guitar maven, but each of these instruments, created by Danny Ferrington to Costello's exacting specifications, proves otherwise. Although Ferrington has built several miniature guitars — serious instruments in every sense — Costello's is unique.

Though this miniature is based roughly on the old Martin Tipples, Ferrington abandoned the traditional acoustic body design, opting for the single-cutaway that makes this miniature so original. Costello also requested that the luthier use an old Gibson F-5 mandolin headstock design, which he did, to great effect. Exquisite are the mother-of-pearl and abalone inlays and binding, the ELVIS COSTELLO on the fingerboard and the small flowerpot on the headstock. Set into a beautiful piece of tortoise shell is a small, yellow rose. For Costello's full-sized instrument, roughly the size of an 000 Martin, Ferrington went for the double-cutaway of the Fender Jazzmaster that Elvis generally uses. The headstock is violin inspired, and the apparent scroll on the upper cutaway is merely an illusion; Ferrington ingeniously carried the binding around in a curl. Again using mother-of-pearl and abalone, Ferrington inlaid Costello's name and a red rose down in the corner of the instrument. For amplification, Hot Dots were used.

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Rolling Stone, No. 347, July 9, 1981

Bill Stephen reports on custom guitars used by Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Carlene Carter, Bob Weir, Pete Townshend and others.


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Cover and page scans.

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Clipping composite.


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