I have been fascinated by the sustainability of waste wood as a guitar building material for years, so my interest was piqued when one of our customers, Brian, approached me with an idea for a wood he had come up with. One day he was driving through the French Quarter, and as he passed the back of St. Louis Cathedral, he noticed two guys hauling old lumber out of the building and into a dumpster on Royal Street. He immediately stopped and asked the workers what was wrong with the wood and they said, “We are doing renovations in there and we had to replace some of the old beams.” He asked if he could have the section they were holding and they said “Sure”. He jumped out and stuffed the 170-year-old long-leaved pine artifact into his hatchback and peeled off. “It would be so cool to have a custom guitar made out of scrap wood from this material,” he thought.
His loot wasn’t quite enough to deliver a full guitar, so he started scouting other construction dumpsters around town and eventually got another old pine log from Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church (which is now a residential building) and some neighborhoods Sawn flooring from a historic house in Uptown.
The long-leaved pine from which these buildings were built almost died out around the turn of the century, as it was coveted as a building material due to the strength and stability of the heartwood. These ancient forests once covered about 45 million acres along the coastal plains of the southern United States, with many trees up to 500 years old. This isn’t the same jaw as the 2×4 you get from Home Depot. Due to deforestation and overexploitation since colonial times, only about 3% of the original long-leaf pine forests have been preserved.
Brian brought the wood to the store along with a sketch of what he was going to build. It was a custom design that was somewhere between his ’64 Jaguar and a ’70 Telecaster Deluxe, and he wanted to wire it up to a ’50s Gibson-style electronics layout. I suggested using an old barge board that I had lying around for the pickguard, and we picked Purpleheart for the neck gusset stringers and binding, plus gold hardware and brass trim, because it’s New Orleans – you have to have a bit of purple and gold in there!
This is how the guitar came about:
For a full list of the specifications of this guitar and more examples of my custom guitar work, visit us at Maret Guitars.