Starlingear Collaborators Documentary

Hello my friends!  It has been a loooong time since I've updated the website, but I'm back and will be restructuring things and adding a bunch of new stuff very shortly. 

In the meantime, take a look at this incredible documentary that McSwain Guitars is a part of. I feel very fortunate to be included in this amazing group if artists. the doc is about Starlingear ( and the artists that my good buddy Ryk Maverick has and is collaborating with. 

It it was filmed and edited by the esteemed Kimo Easterwood (, another of my partners in crime.  

You can skip around to the different artists. McSwain Guitars is featured at 19:48 minutes in, but please do yourself a favor and watch all of these segments.

My very best,




Mini Documentary on McSwain Guitars

This is a brief look into how it all started for McSwain Guitars and a little McSwain "philosophy" on following your calling.


Stephen McSwain of McSwain guitars from Kimo Easterwood on Vimeo.



McSwain Chrome Hearts collaborative guitar for Duff McKagan



I met Mike Squires (Duff McKagan's guitarist in his band Loaded) a while back.  We became fast friends over our affinity for cool guitars.  After building a brass fretless flying V abomination that Mike and I designed together... Mike said one day how cool it would be to have me build a guitar for his good friend Duff.  But... this guitar would be something completely special:  a surprise birthday gift that a bunch of Duff's friends would all contribute to.

Knowing the friendship history between Duff and Richard Stark of Chrome Hearts, Mike thought it would be cool to get Richard to add some Chrome Hearts elements to the guitar.  After a few texts and emails, I went over to meet with Richard.  Richard and I sat down and started brainstorming to come up with the perfect design.  I had mentioned that I am building a series of flag guitars in my shop.  Richard showed me a huge wall sized Chrome Hearts American flag made of ebony and said that he could make one to fit the back of the guitar.  

After about an hour of tossing around ideas, Richard gave me a bag full of Chrome Hearts sterling silver crosses and pluses to work with to see what would work best on the guitar.  Back in the shop, I moved some of the pieces around on a guitar body, emailed photos of them to Mike, moved them around more and emailed more pics... etc, looking for the perfect design for this guitar. 

Richard had seen a couple of my guitars during our initial meeting, one of which was the Snake guitar.  It has thousands of little mother-of-pearl diamonds that I inlaid on the back of the guitar neck and on the body.  He thought that would be a great design for the tiny 1/4" square silver pluses.  So... Chrome Hearts began the task of figuring out how to make these tiny pluses as thin as I needed them to be (1/8" thk.)  A few weeks later, I got the call that approximately 2000 of the 1/4" x 1/4" x 1/8" sterling silver pluses were ready for me to pick up and have my way with.

 The next day, I went to my local "dealer" and sat looking at the choices of wood until a piece screamed out that it was the chosen one!  Cutting, routing, drilling, grinding and shaping ensued and the raw stock finally began to evolve.  (I had to compensate for the thickness of the silver pluses on the neck, so I shaved down the entire contour of the neck and headstock by 1/8" on all surfaces).  The neck was seated into it's final resting place and now it was time to make use of some Chrome Hearts metal! 

After weeks of tedium and oceans of glue (and sore fingers...) the neck was completely covered with Chrome Hearts silver and the binding of the guitar was complete.  Now, it was time to change the feel of the neck from cheese grater into a smooth, functioning guitar neck.  I added layers upon layers of clear sealer coat, sanding between every layer after letting it dry overnight.

Finally, the guitar was ready to assemble with only a couple days left before it had to make the trek up to Seattle for the grand presentation.  Lots of scrambling, begging, borrowing and stealing (not really stealing...) went into the building and delivery of the final product.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY DUFF! 2/5/2012



Auction To Benefit Surfers Healing






Every Holiday season, Surfers Healing has an online auction to help raise money for their non-profit organization in order to support children with autism.  Please take a look at all of the items.

Click here to take a look at all of the items.


Surfers Healing was founded by Israel and Danielle Paskowitz.Their son, Isaiah, was diagnosed with autism at age three. Like many autistic children, he often suffered from sensory overload-- simple sensations could overwhelm him. The ocean was the one place where he seemed to find respite.

A former competitive surfer, Israel hit upon an idea--with Isaiah on the front of his surfboard, and Izzy steering from the back, the two spent the day surfing together. Surfing had a profound impact on Isaiah. Israel and Danielle decided they wanted to share this unique therapy with other autistic children. They began to host day camps at the beach where autistic children and their families could be exposed to a completely new experience of surfing.



Historical Artifacts... well, sort of...

I've always loved graphics that are somewhat subtle but very memorable.  Budweiser is not exempt from this concept.  I found these old steel Budweiser cans and decided to give them a 2nd life as part of a McSwain guitar.  These cans conjure up images of an old pickup truck with several of these rolling around in the back with the trusty old dog.  So does the tone of the guitar.  It is straight up punch and grit!  The pickups are Rio Grande Texas and BBQ humbuckers.

I laminated the cans to the arched top of the tone chambered redwood body which has a book-matched koa back.  The neck is 3-piece mahogany with an aluminum bound 24-3/4" ebony fretboard.  The inlays are aluminum Bud crowns.  Just to add a bit more colloquialism, I made the volume and tone knob from glass Bud bottle tops.  My buddy Jhon Doria dug up an old pull tab in his garden, so I inlaid it into the koa truss rod cover.  What else was I gonna do with it???!!!  The finish is what I call a "dirty finish" which is distressed and looks like it has been around for as long as the beer cans. 

This guitar is being exclusively offered through the fine folks at Fretted Americana

Click the link for more info!!! ...and watch the Fretted Americana video below to watch Phil X take it to task!