The wood he uses is white pine, is all reclaimed from buildings around the city — some famous, like the Chelsea Hotel, legendary speakeasy Chumley’s, even McSorley’s Bar. Kelly gets most of it for free. He calls the wood, the bones of old New York.”It came from those 300-year-old giant trees and now it’s been indoors for 160, 170 years, so it’s super dry and really resonant and makes a great guitar.”
Photo from Carmine Street Guitars courtesy of Sphinx Productions.
The main focus of Carmine Street Guitars is custom guitar maker Rick Kelly and his young apprentice Cindy Hulej. They are renowned for their handcrafted guitars made from reclaimed wood rescued from old hotels, bars, churches and other local buildings.
This guitar is crafted from 100-year-old Alaskan yellow cedar reclaimed from the original bench boards that have been resonating with the sounds emanating from “The Bowl” since 1919.
Over 30 years later, James Hetfield’s garage days live on in a custom-built electric guitar named “Carl,” built from salvaged wood. As Hetfield explains in a new video, “Carl “— who, might we add, has been thoroughly road-tested — possesses symbolic importance.
Topped by recycled fir baseboards from Jimi Hendrix’ childhood home, this guitar made by luthier Reuben Forsland also has nails and wiring from the home inlaid in all of its fret markers. The “story” guitar is a collaboration between Forsland and Kevin Hennig of Symphontree Music in Sandspit. (Kevin Hennig/Symphontree Music)
Handmade by Reuben Forsland, a Métis luthier in Comox, its soundboard is made from the fir baseboards of Hendrix’ bedroom. Inside the silver fret markers are wires and nails from the home. For the rosette, the decorative trim around the soundhole, Forsland inlaid bits of paint from the Hendrix home floor, encased in 150 pieces of ebony. “That’s what this guy does, all the time,” says Kevin Hennig, owner of SymphonTree Music, a specialized guitar shop based in Sandspit.
Mark Wallace of Wallace Detroit Guitars
The reclaimed wood used to build Wallace Detroit Guitars — salvaged from buildings in the Motor City — dates as far back as the early 1800s. The handmade guitars are therefore being built with the same vintage, slow-growth wood as instruments made in the golden era of the 1920s, said Wallace Detroit Guitars founder Mark Wallace. “That wood went into guitars, and my wood went into houses,” Wallace said during an interview at Architectural Salvage Warehouse, the nonprofit where he sources maple, ash, walnut and pine. “There’s something fundamentally different about the wood that went into those [vintage] guitars, and that’s what I’m tapping into.”
Fender has soft-launched a Special Edition series of guitars aimed at players looking for the distinct tone of old growth timber, while enjoying the benefits of modern features and hardware. The company has secured a limited amount of reclaimed wood from obscure locations in the US for an interesting take on its iconic Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars. The redwood model is made using wood from the 1930s, and the pine models timber dates back to 1868 … and you don’t get much more vintage than that.
Provided photo / Ben Baker plays a “canjo,” or a banjo made with a can resonator. He created the canjo from salvaged pieces of materials from the American Crayon factory.
Maple hardwood floorboards found inside American Crayon — some 100 years older or more — make great necks for string instruments, including guitars, Baker said.
So far, Baker has salvaged some of the hardwood for guitar necks. Meanwhile, he also repurposed some of the factory’s supporting beams into guitar bodies and custom ukeleles as well.
Haines says he works with many artisans and craftspeople throughout the region that are developing unique ways of reusing the material, a phenomenon that is aggregating into a burgeoning economy around deconstruction.
From the pickups to the necks, we bring the parts from discarded instruments back to life. One of our new goals is to begin shaping necks out of reclaimed wood. The bodies of our Boho Series are made from melted down scrap metal.