See how Shane Speal turns dead yard-sale guitars into an outrageous Frankenstein build with C. B. Gitty parts.
"Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Igor, would you mind telling me whose brain I did put in?
Igor: And you won't be angry?
Frankenstein: I will NOT be angry.
Igor: Abby someone.
Frankenstein: Abby someone. Abby who?
Igor: Abby Normal!"
- Young Frankenstein (1974)
Behold, the FrankenTulip, a Frankenstein parts-caster I cobbled together from dead guitars I’ve bought at yard sales and flea markets.
Hear the FrankenTulip
The body is a circa 1965 Teisco E-110 (aka “tulip” body), and the perfectly fitting neck is from a Harmony H-804 model from the 1970s.
Fans of cheap-o guitars will recognize that these two different models are basically the same guitar and were made at the same Japanese factory.
These plywood slab bodies and simple, top-mounted electronics are the most basic guitars ever built. They’re also a blast to mod and an excellent way for a beginning guitar tinkerer to get his/her hands dirty.
I scored the tulip guitar body for $7 at a flea market.
All the electronics and pickguard were gone, but luckily the "ashtray" tailpiece and bridge were still there.
I decided to craft my own pickguard using a broken 1928 New York license plate that I got free in another flea market deal.
And like a mad scientist, I designed my own unique pickguard shape and carefully cut it out using a simple pair of tin snips.
Running the rough metal edges on my belt sander smoothed them out.
Since I didn’t have the gloriously nasty Teisco pickup that came with the guitar, I decided to load it with a C. B. Gitty P-90 Soapbar
At just $12 each, I buy these by the dozen and always have a pile in my shop (they’re explosive sounding in my cigar box guitars!)
I also bought a walnut pickup mounting ring from C. B. Gitty. The ring is a beauty but I wanted the wood to more closely match the gritty license plate.
A short session with a woodburning pen blackened the wood and gave it a rough and complimenting look.
Stick Yer Neck Out
I found the Harmony neck in a $5 box lot at a local yard sale.
It was nice and straight, and frets only needed a little filing on the ends to remove any sharp points.
The tuners, however, were shot, so I drilled out the holes and added a set of Gitty chrome, sealed-gear tuners.
Pointy Fret Ends
After decades, the wood of the guitar neck has shrunk just enough to expose the ends of the frets, causing them to be sharp as I run my hands up and down it.
Luckily, I had my C. B. Gitty Small Fret Bevel File. It was the perfect tool to file those ends down into a beautiful, playable feel.
For around $40 in parts, a couple Pignose snout knobs and a pack of new strings, I’ve got a fun new guitar.
The C. B. Gitty "Soap Bar" P90-style electric guitar pickup mated with this setup gives a country twang that I wasn’t expecting.
In overdrive, it delivers a Hound Dog Taylor attitude in spades. And best yet, this project gave me a quiet evening’s project to enjoy.
What sort of guitar will you cobble together next?