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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