|DI: The first guitar I built that Jerry bought was one that was a double cutaway made of bird's eye maple and walnut, and it had a couple dual-coil humbucking type pickups on it. At the time, Jerry was using a lot of single-coil pickups and when he bought that guitar, the first thing he said right away was, "Wow, man if I could get this with a Stratocaster pickup, maybe I could play this shit."|
|SQ: So the first guitar had no symbols on it at all?|
|DI: Nothing. Just my logo in the peg head which is an eagle, and on most of Jerry's guitars, he has what I call the deluxe logo, where it's the eagle circling the earth.|
||DI: He wanted another guitar, but he wanted it with|
|Stratacaster pickups, he didn't want regular humbuck-|
|ers. So, I built the next guitar for him, which was a|
|guitar that I had actually already started at the time that|
|he ordered it, and it's made out of PurpleHeart and|
|Curly Maple. It had an ebony fingerboard and mother-|
|of-pearl inlays in the fingerboard. It's kind of hard to|
|describe that inlay pattern. This is the one that became|
|SQ: Can you talk about the Wolf and the different|
|totems that were used?|
|DI: It was just stuff that evolved out of it after a while. It|
|wasn't put on there at first. The Wolf didn't show up on|
|that instrument 'til about three or four years later.|
|SQ: That's something he put on the guitar?|
|DI: No, he asked me to refinish it and he had a little decal on there that was similar to that, and since|
|I was refinishing it, I knew the decal was going to be gone, so I just redid it as an inlay. When he saw it,|
|he said" wow, that's really nice, you saved that sticker." I went "no, no, no".|
|SQ: What is Purple Heart?|
|DI: Purple heart is sometimes call Amaranth, but it's the wood from the northeast coast of South America,|
|which is where the Guineas are. Purple heart comes from there and it's a tree that's naturally, I mean this is|
|the actual, natural color of it, is outrageous purple. It's a purple that makes some guys wish, their Cadillac|
|was that color. It's the natural color of the wood. When you cut the wood open, it's kind of grayish|
|looking. But once it's had exposure to a little bit of light, it periodically changes from gray to purple, and|
|sometimes you get pieces from a tree that's just like electric purple. No Cadillac was ever painted that|
|out to be one of the stiffest woods in the world.|
|SQ: It's not brittle but it's stiff?|
|DI: It's not very brittle either, it's some really serious hard, stiff wood. The U. S. Department of Forestry|
|has surveyed woods all over the world for the American Lumber Industry, so they don't have to pay to do|
|it. Of the wood surveyed by the Forestry Department, purple heart is the stiffest and strongest wood and|
|some of the measures that they measure strength, because there's a lot of different parameters in strength.||
Wolf w/ mods
SQ: Is it expensive?
DI: Well it's not really terribly expensive, amazingly. It's a wood that has an extremely unusual color, but yet it glues very well. Some of the woods from Central and South America like coca-bola and rosewood are incredibly beautiful, but they don't glue as well as some other woods because they have a lot of oil in them. The oil makes it, you know how hard it is to, did you ever try to glue two pieces of oil together? If you use spray adhesive, you can actually do it. I've become kind of an expert on glue over the years. I was amazed when I started building guitars, it's like--how do things stay together, man? An acoustic guitar, when it's strung up with just regular strings on it, has about 475 pounds of tensile tension on it. The only thing that's holding it together is glue and other pieces 1/8-inch thick. It's pretty amazing. And I was always pretty amazed, wow I mean this shit can happen, man, these things can last a long time, this is pretty amazingly strong glue. I've been fortunate to find some really good glues over the years. For gluing the wood together, I recommend Franklin's Titebond. It's definitely the stuff to use, they make a superior glue that works, I mean I have scraps that I've saved over the years, I've never thrown any wood away, and if I take scraps of stuff I glued together 30 years ago and put them into a vice and break them up with a hammer, the wood breaks every time, not the glued joints.
That's right, the glue is always the strongest joint if you do it right. And 30 years 's a good long time.
DI: Yeah. I mean that's the thing, that's why every once in a while I break up an old piece like that, because I don't just want to have somebody tell me it's sturdier, I want to see this shit. I can stand behind Franklin's because it's incredibly strong stuff and I've glued a lot of things together with it and it all stays together real nice.
DI: He liked the Wolf so much when I delivered it, he said "I want you to make me another one, but I don't want you to hold back, I just want you to go for it." He said, " I'm not going to tell you what I want, you can just make it the way you want."
SQ: Man, can you ask for a better project than that?
DI: Oh, no, that was it.
SQ: What went through your mind during the first stages of that?
DI: I mean, I just thought to myself, "jeez how many times does anybody in their life get a chance to do this, where somebody says yeah, go for it. Don't hold back, do it the way you want to." I really made an effort to make it my best effort. It's a guitar unlike any one I've ever built since then. It's got a lot of detailing on it. I put over 2,000 hours actually directly into working on that guitar, and this is the one that became known as the Tiger, it has plate with an inlay of a tiger in it. These names just kind of developed over a period of time, they weren't originally named. But, he started playing the one with the Wolf on it, and after I built the second one, just so we know which guitar we were talking about, we started calling one the Wolf and one the Tiger.
|SQ: What was the Tiger made out of?|
|DI: The Tiger is made out of coca-bola and a western maple. It's softer, well it's a similar type of|
|maple that the Wolf was made out of, but it's mostly coca-bola which is the wood from South|
|America that's got some really intense color to it. In the case of the Tiger, it's a reddish-orange piece,|
|SQ: And the Neck?|
|DI: The neck is made out of laminations of Maple and Vermilion actually.|
|I'm not exactly sure why I used the Vermilion, I just wanted this orange stripe going around the side.|
|Vermilion is one of the ones that's very difficult to glue because it has an oil in it that's pretty|
|migratory. It moves around.|
|SQ: How did you end up gluing it?|
|DI: Well it's possible with coca-bola to take a solvent and tease some of the oil out of the surface of|
|the wood so when you glue it, you can get a good glue line. That's what I normally do, I tease as|
|much of the oil out of the surface that I'm gluing so that I get good adhesion there.|
|SQ: That must have taken a lot of trial and error to learn all that, huh?|
DI: Well, yeah, but it's somewhat trial and error just comes up. Because everything is an experiment.
SQ: Are these things you learned on your own, or were you able to confer with other people on this?
DI: I was able to confer with other people, but some things I made up as I went along. You find there's a limit to how far knowledge has gone and you're making it as you go.
SQ: So you've amassed some serious knowledge in doing these projects over the years.
DI: Yeah, I started out to be a scientist, and I still am a scientist. I apply the sciences that I've learned to the work that I do and I find it to be really rewarding.
SQ: You're mixing art and science.
DI: Oh yeah. Well making a musical instrument is an amazing challenge because a musical instrument is a tool of the imagination. Making tools of the imagination is an interesting challenge. There are no definitive answers to anything in making musical instruments.