THE RED QUEEN AND 5 STEPS TO A LUTHERIE CAREER BY RANDY PARSONS
Several months ago, I was approached by one of the
wealthiest guitar collectors in
the world. He requested that
I send pictures of everything I
make. After a month of emails
and very short phone calls, I
had sold him a big nothing.
Apparently, no guitar I’d done
in the past excited him. I had
no choice but to throw down
my last card—the Red Queen.
The Red Queen is something
I’ve been planning for years—a
hollowbody concept electric that
can only be described as Alice
in Wonderland meets Cirque
Du Soleil—and it’s such a big,
bizarre, painstaking project that
the editors of Premier Guitar
thought I should tell you about
it even if it risks having some
readers thinking this page has
been set aside for self-congrat-ulatory blathering. But the Red
Queen is expensive—
expensive. So please rest assured
that I’m not trying to sell you
this guitar. I just thought you
might like to ride along on this
journey with me.
After giving this collector a
few details about my vision for
the Red Queen—such as that it
would have a 1000-piece neck,
a 500-piece top, and a few
details that I can’t talk about
yet—he responded with, “Well,
I’m very interested in that.” For
a guitar maker like me, this is
one of those rare events one
can only dream about. So I’ve
been drawing up the details
and making sketches for a few
months, and now I must begin.
There is no room for failure or
disappointment when you’re
dealing with a billionaire and
a Red Queen. Either I achieve
success or it’s off with my head.
Wish me luck! I’ll keep you
posted on my progress with this
guitar over the coming months!
As I reflected on this long-
dreamed-of Red Queen project,
Sketches and sample pieces of the Red Queen. Photo by S. Reeves
It‘s a fact that 80 percent of making guitars
is sanding. It’s a dirty, unhealthy, physical
job, and it’s the part no one sees.
I contemplated my career as a
luthier up to this point. It’s been
long, hard, and rewarding. And
over the years I’ve been asked
the same two questions over and
over: “How do you get into guitar making?” and “What does
it take to have a career in it?”
Here’s what I tell people.
Step 1. Shut up and do it.
Do it today! Stop telling people
(like me) it’s what you want to
do. Instead, go buy some damn
materials, some simple tools,
and start cutting and gluing some
wood. If you’re just drawn to guitar building as a great hobby, this
will put you on your way. If you
want a career, keep reading.
Step 2. Spend two years
learning to build. Seek out
other guitar makers, take
classes, research online informa-
tion, and devote the months
it requires to making sense of
what you’ve absorbed. You can
take one of those expensive
courses where you build two
guitars, but I’ve never met any
would-be luthiers who actually
continued building once they
stepped away from the comfort
of the classroom and instruc-
tors. My advice is to teach
yourself first and learn to figure
things out on your own. You’ll
be better off in the long run.
builds guitars for Jack
White, Jimmy Page, Joe
Perry, and other adven-
turous players using
like bone, flowers, cop-
per, and solid ebony.