In the spring of 2003, Brad Paisley called me with a question. “How can we combine your paisley design with Buck and Don’s sparkle guitars?” We decided a great foundation would be his heroes’ coolest guitars: the silver sparkle Telecaster with black binding. I had built a few guitars with black paisley print on white paper, and we felt the black and silver would make a great combination. Of course, the guitar must have black binding, too. It sounded like a great idea, but I wasn’t sure I could pull this off.
Keep in mind this was about 10 years ago, and metallic papers and technology weren’t what they are today. Most vinyl papers were used as banner material for stick-on lettering. Even if you could print on a paper, the ink was barely visible no matter how many times you printed over it. It took several months of research, but I found a sparkle paper that looked like silver metalflake paint, and the paisley printed on it perfectly. Spraying silver metalflake to match the sides of the body was easy, but I was stumped about the binding.
I couldn’t use a bound body as there was no way to cut the paper to leave a crisp edge. Painting the binding freehand seemed easy enough at first, but it was really difficult to create straight edges, and it looked unnatural. Finally, I tried black automotive pinstriping tape, and it gave me a nice, sharp edge like real binding. Once it was cleared over, it really looked like a traditional bound body.
Staying true to Buck’s guitar, I used a 3-ply white pickguard and a 2-piece maple neck. To give Brad that Bakersfield sound, I used a low-wind Voodoo TE-60 bridge pickup.
Brad was so pleased with his self-titled Buckocaster that he asked me to make another one to present to Buck on New Year’s Eve, and I’ve been told that Buck played it regularly until his passing. What a honor!
Buck’s guitar is displayed at his Crystal Palace club in Bakersfield.
Sadly, Brad’s guitar was ruined in the 2010 Nashville flood and it has found a home at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
This challenging project opened the door to developing other sparkle paisley colors, but the black has always been my favorite. Although the Buckocaster is popular with country players, its classic 50s rock-and-roll vibe has attracted contemporary Christian players and even rock players you might know.
Do you have a silver sparkle paisley YouTube video that you’d like to share?