Creating an Heirloom

by Eddy Cotton
a valuable object that has been given by an older member of a family to a younger member of the same family, esp. one given several times in this way.”

The holidays have come and gone, the new year is off and running. Let me tell you about a project I completed (with help from the Eco Relics Wood Shop and Terry Fore. )

About three years ago a customer brought in few pieces of dimensional mahogany that he had been holding on to for over 30 years. He had acquired it with the intention of building a custom guitar. I could relate, being a guitar picker of a certain age. You get these ideas of what your ultimate guitar would be. It’s kind of a thing. I always wanted my own mahogany Telecaster with a rosewood fingerboard…

At some point he realized this project wasn’t  going to happen and I guess the lumber wasn’t sparking joy or whatever, but eventually down sizing ensued. These pieces found their way to the Eco Relics wood shop where they languished until last summer.

While cleaning out the shop I found the largest those pieces (9″ x 2″ and about 7 feet long) and immediately bought it. This wood had been waiting 35+ years to be made into a guitar and I intended to make its destiny my own. I have a friend, Terry Fore, who has taken up building electric guitars. He always tells me, “Bring me the wood and I’ll build you what you want…”

I took it to Terry  and asked him to fabricate a Telecaster style body from it. A few months earlier I had procured a broken and ancient mahogany newel post from which he quartered and used to create a couple of guitar necks. Within a few weeks he called me over to check out his progress. To my surprise Terry had managed to build two full guitars from the wood I’d supplied him. This was fortuitous on more than one level because my daughter Hadley is in a working band in Portland, Oregon, and her guitar (a Fender Strat she bought with her own money at sixteen) was in need dire of repair and Christmas was fast approaching.

My daughter came home for Christmas and performed with me at the St. John’s Flower Market for the Luminaria Folk Fest. It was a lovely night in Avondale, lots of old friends,  great music and holiday cheer. There were even some first time Eco Relics customers that I’d sold a table to earlier that day. It was also really cool because lots of people, Hadley included, were admiring my new guitar. She didn’t know she was getting one of her own for Christmas, yet. I was brimming with excitement but resisted the urge to blow the surprise. A few days later I gave her some strap buttons, when she opened them I said, “I guess you need a guitar to put those on…” and presented her with her own custom guitar. It was practically a Hallmark movie scene…

Some reclaimed wood, a realized dream and a classic song.

That, my friends, is how you create an heirloom.

I speak for the entire crew when I say-

Happy New Year from Eco Relics. We look forward to helping you with your projects in 2020, whether creating an heirloom, restoring a treasure or remodeling a house into your home. Come see us soon. -Eddy

Here’s a video of her singing the classic, “The Tennessee Waltz,” with Lonesome Ride. I’m playing my custom mahogany ‘Forecaster.’  Video by Shawn Lightfoot.

Photos by Stephan Coffey.

Details on the build: The mahogany newel was quartered and planed.
The bodies were constructed by crosscutting, joining and planing. The rosewood fingerboards were made from the same piece, gifted to me by Billy Leeka. Terry used Stewart McDonald templates as well as custom made sleds and tools . Jumbo frets, Sprague Orange Caps, the neck is chunky. As the quest for tone continues, I may modify the electronics, but I like it just fine, right now. If you are interested in custom guitars you can contact me for information on the woods we have in stock, local luthiers or pretty much anything else:

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