The Dorado

For my second guitar with Crimson inspiration came a long way around.  I knew I wanted to do a "glued in neck" style guitar - like a Les Paul - but I really can't get on with the weight and neck join on the standard instrument.  It's too heavy and clunky for me.

The second part of the inspiration came via a track I've loved for years by Blue Mitchell - Dorado.

It is just sublime funky blues, which twists and flows allowing every musician a time to shine.  How I found that track is another story... I looked up what a "Dorado" was - it's a fish.  An amazingly coloured gigantic fish with - and I quote Ben Crowe again "a face only a mother could love".  I wanted a guitar inspired by this psycadelic fighter - large, meaty, nimble and brightly coloured.

Yet again - I set myself some pretty harsh rules - I only wanted to use exceptional looking timbers and specifically gold hardware.  For some reason this always comes at a premium - especially the pickups.  The fingerboard is a wonderful ghostly ebony (my absolute favourite to work with and looks sublime), the neck is flamed maple, the body - a one piece cut of highest quality Sapele and the top - well - that's another story.... It is quilted maple.  I was after fine (small) but extreme quilting to resemble the scales on a fish, but after searching for ages couldn't discover any.  James at Crimson Guitars finally found me some - from Ben's private stock at an exhorbitant price.  In fact, all but three of my previous guitars cost less than that sheet of timber alone.


The design is similar to a PRS or Crimson's own new model, except it is slightly offset, with a larger Jaguar type bottom and a longer top horn.  Ideally in the future this would be even more noticable.  The bridge is a wraparound Gotoh model - expensive, but not as much as the Schaller version and has locking Gotoh tuners.  I don't think there is a better set of tuners out there for the money.

Again, the straplocks are Dunlop recessed as is the input jack - you can read about my issues with these in the "making of" section.

The pickups are Seymour Duncan - a '59 in the neck and a Pearly Gates in the bridge - more importantly is the 6 way (yes - six) selector switch that did need a bit of fiddling to get to work.  This clever item not only splits the coils but adds in some interesting series / parallel choices.

Again, I have added in a wedge to balance it on the legs when playing sitting down as well as a very generous "belly cut". This ergonomic weight relief not only works well for me, but also really shows off the grain of the Sapele well.  The neck is full access made easier by wedges cut out from in front and behind the join - I was happy to find out that this really makes a difference.  I would probably change the size of the control cavity on future rebuilds as it led to difficulty wiring,

The painting is all Crimsons water based "Stunning Stains" - how this works can be seen in the "Making of" section - when I get to it!  Regardless, the multi layered effect - especially on the neck truly is magical.  Does flamed and quilted maple make any difference to the sound?  Absolutely not - but this instrument was all about looks and how far I could push it.  The top carve was possibly the most difficult part, but the subtlety of the re-carve, the faux binding and the edge sanding just add together to make an incredible musical vehicle.

 

But of course there are fun things added too - the original "Sad Fernando" truss rod cover - the one that named this business - with the green eye picked from hundreds (don't ask about that day...) by Christopher, when he started giggling like an eight year old girl seeing a unicorn for the first time. Next I chose a deep ocean blue Corian nut material with white specs in to further enhance and play on the fish theme.  Finally (and as can be seen from YouTube videos) - I contacted a taxidemist to get artificial fish eyes for the twelth fret.  They are a subtle addition, but effective.

The pin-stripe maple and ebony fretboard binding was perhaps the most extravagant addition from my point of view - it looks great - I'm glad I was talked out of dyeing it lime green, and it was a skill to learn, but essentially it was just for looks.

© 2019 by GJH / Sad Fernando Guitars

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