Each year the TCAA encourages us as members to create unique, one of a kind items for the show. One of my items this year was a leather covered guitar. I have seen guitars over the years done this way, but I was always concerned that covering an acoustic guitar would greatly affect the sound. Elvis had such a guitar and I have seen others over the years. Waylon had the highly recognizable guitar he played that was shown on TV when the Dukes of Hazard came on. I knew to do this would require, in my mind, a solid body electric guitar, more like Waylon played, so that the sound would not be affected by the leather.
Many modern country music artists use the ever popular Fender Telecaster, which is the guitar I chose to use. All of the guitars I had seen, either acoustic or electric, had been laced around the edges with various types of lacing. I preferred not to use lace but rather to hand sew the leather to the guitar. I did not recall having seen one done in this fashion. I learned that many guitars go through several different necks over the years, as they can be easily replaced. I was able to remove the neck of the guitar, which made it much easier to fit the leather to the body and hand sew it without the cumbersome neck in the way.
The solid body of the guitar is actually quite heavy and I found that holding it in a traditional saddlers stitch horse was quite awkward. I needed to come up with a better way to hold it while hand sewing. I found that the vice I use for building trees worked perfectly for the job. I just had to build some covers for the vice jaws out of leather and foam so the tooled parts of the guitar would not be damaged by the metal jaws when clamped together. It really worked quite well.
Some of the flowers we saddle makers carve are just drawn up, made up flowers. Some are actual flowers that can translate to leather and make a beautiful flower. I hope the pictures I have show the actual flower that I used to carve on this guitar and how it looks when carved in the leather. Dying the background on carved items is always a bit risky and time consuming, but the end result can be very satisfying.
One of the things that is so satisfying about being a saddle maker, or craftsman of any kind, is when we get to be creative. There is something about having wide open creative license allowing us the freedom to create new, unique, one of a kind pieces that is extremely satisfying. It energizes us and motivates us to dream on. This guitar was one of those items. I really enjoyed the entire process of covering this guitar with leather.