Prairiewood the Sequel, Wild West Guitars, & Hope for Joplin

This post is because so many of you have so kindly asked what happened to the guitar I loved so much. Well, it is no more. It’s now the same piece of wood for the body and the same pickups, and a whole new guitar.

I was a little bit excited when it came in last week…

Because in October, this happened:

Now I play my gear fairly hard, and fairly often. So not only did it need a fret job, replaced electronics, and a new finish, but now…obviously…an entire new neck. So I contacted Robert Dixon, builder of tone, and he recommended a guitar tech in Southern California, a guy named Mark at Wild West Guitars in Riverside. I said I didn’t trust anyone with the guitar but he himself, so I sent it back. He warned me that he was in the middle of a bunch of custom builds and that it could take a very long time, but I still sent it back. And now finally, it has returned. Pretty much a brand new guitar. Here’s some before and after shots.

Original Prairiewood:

And Prairiewood the Sequel:

(You can already see where I put a few minor scratches on it…I think from one my shirt buttons. Basically, I don’t deserve a guitar this nice. I need like, a plastic guitar, that sounds like it’s made of wood because I’m such a child. But…I even told Rob…it’s just going to get worse and worse, as I’m a player and not a collector. He says he’d actually prefer that. Still…I should probably grow up a bit. So much less fun though! hehe)

The most beautiful thing is that he refinished it with a color that reacts more with the flame maple and brings out the grain more. Looks more rustic and natural. And we decided to do no binding on the neck, and go with maple dot inlays instead of mother-of-pearl trapezoids. And the ‘Prairiewood’ decal is tastefully hidden in the headstock, and can only really be seen in certain light angles. Which I think is pretty cool. Basically, we decided on a more understated beauty this time, and I absolutely love it. Fits me better. Electronically, same Wolfetone Dr. V pickups, but new pots and switch. And we got rid of the old OOP split coil button pot for just a straight push/pull split coil pot on the tone knob, for the back pickup. Which makes for a great pseudo-Tele sound on the middle position. And Brazilian Rosewood fretboard. Yes, I know it’s an endangered wood, but my tone is more important than the environment? I should probably come up with a better defense.

Oh ya…and it has a neck that’s in one piece now, too. haha One piece Honduran mahogany without any splintered wood. Because, and you’d think this, but I now know firsthand. Splintered wood is not the greatest-sounding of woods.

So anyway, I’ve been playing my little Godin SD for a while now, and never bought another guitar because I knew the Prairiewood would return at some moment. And I’d actually been playing it for so long, that I was beginning to question the merit of more expensive guitars. Thought I might sell the Prairiewood when it came back and buy, I don’t know…like food or something. But one strum at a Friday night worship service, and all was lost. Clarity, punch, sustain…it was beautiful. It’s actually punchier than before. I can’t believe the ‘upfrontness’ of the tone. I now have to reset all my pedals to more subtle settings, because the Prairiewood is bringing out so many sonic nuances that all my effects sound way clearer.

I’ll post some videos and hopefully some new songs recorded with it soon, but life has been way too busy for my liking as of late. And I really want to try to do this guitar justice. So for now, some pics. If you’re looking for amazingly crafted guitars, check out Robert Dixon. The sound great, have beautiful woodwork, and the guy’s the real deal, too; I won’t tell you how much this repair cost me, but for basically rebuilding the entire guitar, the price wasn’t near as high as it should have been. So, if you get a chance, check out his work at:

Prairiewood Guitars

Amazing work, especially compared to what you’d get at some of the bigger companies, and much more affordable than what you’d get with some of the boutique builders.

Here’s some more of my new, improved love:

Love.

When I got the guitar back, I wanted a tech to check out the wiring, as it was buzzing. Well, he didn’t take care of the buzzing…because it’s the power in my apartment. No buzzing anywhere else. Basically, I now have to do all my recording when no one’s running their air conditioning. I’ve got to get a house. But that takes money. As does gear. So……apartment. ;) But in the process, I saw this guy’s work on guitars and how he checked mine, and he’s amazing. Rob from Prairiewood actually suggested him. His name’s Mark, and he’s at:

Wild West Guitars

I have been searching for a good local guitar tech and luthier for a long time, and this guy looks like he may just be the one. So, for those of you in the Southern California area, please, please check him out. Great guy.

And lastly, not sure where to put this, but I do want to make sure Naal, one of the blog readers here, gets some support for the ‘Hope for Joplin’ compilation he as put together to benefit the hurting people of Joplin. He’s incredible for doing this. It’s free, and then you can donate however much you want. Donations go to The Red Cross. There’s some great music on it, and as this site is supposed to be about playing guitar, hehe, here’s my contribution and a couple facts about it in order to maybe be of some interest in your own recording.

Through Broken Clouds, studio version. This is the version on the album. It’s basically the live looped track below. However, in this one, I overdubbed some of the lines that were in the loop, and recorded them separately. This is so that I could separate them and pan left and right. Stereo is an amazing tool when recording. Creates space. Also, it’s shorter, because you don’t want to tire your audience. Even 7 minutes is pushing it. The original take is longer, because it takes longer to create the loop and build it on top of itself. Cool for musicians, but no so cool for the casual listener waiting for it to take off. So here’s the studio version:

And the live version. This is the actual loop that is the centered main track on the finished song above. Just with no parts redubbed and panned. And this is basically all Brig, Blue Sky, and Timeline, out of the Matchless, no effects in post:

I will make this song as well as ‘Lullabye for the Lost’, which was on the Hope for Japan compilation, available for free on their own project pretty soon here. But for now, this song is only available on Naal’s compilation for Joplin. So, if you feel so led, check out the album compilation here:

Hope for Joplin

And donate however much or little you like, to Joplin. Thanks, Naal! And hopefully those two versions can also give a bit of useful info in recording regarding the use of stereo and things like that. I’m no expert by any means, but I’ve been having fun with it. :)

Probably the last song for a while recorded with the Godin. It has served me faithfully, the little guy. But from here on out, expect more songs with probably the Prairiewood. ;) Yippee. (I just yelled that.) One chord strummed with this guitar, and it instantly made selling all those pedals to pay for the repair, completely worth it.

Splendid.
Karl.

63 thoughts on “Prairiewood the Sequel, Wild West Guitars, & Hope for Joplin

  1. A thing of beauty. Glad you’ve got it back. I know how important it is to have the guitar you’re used to back. My LP is like an extension of my body now and I really dont feel comfortable with anything else.

  2. I like the track Karl. Very nice

    Good to see your Prairiewood back in action. Gear and instruments are great for fresh inspiration.

    Nate

  3. Have to say the new finish looks awesome and way better than the original!

    Boutique builders are expensive, but they tend to be doing it for the love rather than the money; I think I hear the love coming out of the blog for your beloved’s return!

    Anyhooo, back to watching U2 at the Rose Bowl; dunno how sad it is that I keep on trying to see you in the crowd; probably more sad than I want to know!

  4. So cool! How much was all of the stuff?

    PS- my tone knob on my strat is weird…when I play and accidentally hit it, the entire sound goes out. What could this be and how much should I look to spend on fixing it?

    I’ve gotta keep my strat signed by Brandon Heath and Leeland band in good shape! :)


    • Brandon:

      PS- my tone knob on my strat is weird…when I play and accidentally hit it, the entire sound goes out. What could this be and how much should I look to spend on fixing it?

      This is what folks in the industry call “not good”. My guess would be a loose wire or bad solder joint in there. Are you sure you’re hitting one of the tone knobs and not the 5-way switch?

      • Oh…my bad! I meant I am hitting the 5 way switch. When I hit it just the right place, the entire sound goes out.

        Usually happens on rhythm parts b/c I am more prone to have my hand hit it.

  5. How I feel about this:

    “Billions of years ago, a race of immortals harnessed the most powerful force in existence. The emerald energy of willpower. These immortals, the guardians of the universe, built a world from where they could watch over all of existence; the planet Oa…A ring powered by the energy of will was sent to every sector of universe to select a recruit. In order to be chosen by the ring, it was said one must be without fear.

    Green’s the color of will. The Guardians harassed will, because it’s the strongest source of energy in the universe.”

    Coincidence? Or not?

  6. Mike–thanks, bro! And I agree…I’m really comfortable with it. You know, the oddest thing about getting used to the Godin was its 24 frets as compared to the Prairiewood’s 22. Going high on the neck, there was some really quick and confused fret counting going on for a bit. haha

    Nate–thanks for the kind words, bro. :) And ya, I’m hoping for some new inspiration! hehe

    Daraithe–definitely! The boutique builders are worth it, in my opinion. And when Rob first suggested going for a lighter finish, I was a little hesitant because I liked the old one so much. But ya, the lighter, more wood-grain rustic deal is way better.

    And I’ve never been able to spot myself on the Rose Bowl dvd! We’re dead in front of the way Edge’s amps are pointing at that one, inner circle, about 5-15? feet off the rail. Let me know if you find me! haha Oh, and I had hair at that show. lol

    Guy–thanks, bro! Been a long 8 months. haha

    Gtr1ab–thanks, brother! So awesome to have it. Any new killer builds you’ve been working on for your own guitars?

    Brandon–I had that happen one time, but with the volume knob. I took some contact cleaner, took off th eknob and unscrewed the washer on the pot, and poured the cleaner around the pot itself. Or you can try compressed air. Be careful with that stuff though, and use it sparingly. That helped me for a while, but eventually, I had to replace the whole pot.

    There could also be a loose wire somewhere. But on strats, you’ve got to take off the strings and remove the whole pickguard assembly to tell. Might be best to find a good tech in your area.

    On the price for the repair, I don’t really like to discuss dollar amounts when guy’s give me good deals, as I don’t want them to feel pressured into that price for everyone. But let’s just say he was very generous with what he charged for basically building me a new guitar. :)

    KennyG–thanks! Me too! I was nervous about a lighter finish at first, but it really looks more understated and more like a guitar, if that makes any sense. I think I like seeing the wood detail more than just green. :)

    Caleb–haha Are you saying my neck snapped because the gods were jealous of my tone? At least, that’s how I’d like to read it. ;)

  7. I’m lovin’ the new finish. I’m a sucker for natural wood grains. All of my guitars have a natural clear-coat finish and I try to avoid pick guards as much as I can (my Taylor has a clear pick guard and my Les Paul has no guard – my Strat, well, really not an option there). I’d always heard that Brazilian Rosewood is waxy or oily. Notice any of that on your fretboard?

  8. That looks amazing, dude. So much better than the old finish. Not that the old finish looked bad or anything, it’s just the the new finish is so much more subtle. I also prefer the dot inlays.

    Try not to drop this one. =)

  9. I’m not sure–maybe some kind of appearance in the 2nd Green Lantern movie? Haha I don’t read enough into what I say myself, which makes it a problem for others trying. :p

    I’m sure there’s some parallel analogy between the Lanterns and Parallax and tone, I just don’t know what I want it to be. Maybe tone and gas–which is the stronger force? Haha I don’t know–something better than that–congrats is what I’m trying to say. :)

  10. The new finish looks great with that top!
    Robert did a great job.
    The Gibson scale length guitars sound wider to me. It’s hard to go back to a Strat after getting that fat a sound.


    • Dan:

      The Gibson scale length guitars sound wider to me. It’s hard to go back to a Strat after getting that fat a sound.

      I’m with you on that shorter scale length. I was a long time strat player (like 20 years) and just recently picked up an LTD LP-style with the shorter scale length and I just love it! Not only is it a nice big sound but, I actually find it easier to play (I think it’s just a better fit to my hand size).

  11. I’m glad I wasn’t the first to see the green lantern connection with the new finish (okay movie by the way, transformers was better).

    The guitar looks great! Looking forward to some new songs out of it.

    P.s. I listened to your advice and got some TOMS. Super comfy and now I’m a true ambient artist.

  12. Travis–I’m in total agreement! Loving wood finish right now. And I don’t notice any waxiness at all. Feels really nice, and really fast.

    Matt–haha That’s awesome.

    Phillip–lol Will do!

    And ya, I thought I liked the old finish until I saw this one. And I like the dots better, too…much more rustic and understated, especially without the binding. I’m not a big fan of the big mother-of-pearl inlays because they don’t feel right when you play. Maybe that’s just me? But I got it used, and never thought too much about it. It was nice to choose some personalized options in the repair.

    Caleb–haha Thanks! Oh, and does anyone else think Green Lantern looks horrible? I love Mark Strong, and Ryan Reynolds has great comedic timing, but…oh those previews. Yikes!

    Cam–yep, that’s it! On the home page, I think the bottom guitar that’s just the neck, is my old neck that now is no more. Interesting that that guitar pretty much doesn’t exist anymore.

    Dan–I completely agree. I wasn’t sure when he first mentioned it, but I’m glad I trusted him.

    And is it the scale that helps with the fatness? I didn’t know that.

    Josh–lol At the Toms! Yep, true ambient artist now. haha

    And hope some new songs come as well! Green Lantern didn’t look all that great to me, so I didn’t see it. I did enjoy Green Hornet though…mostly for James Franco’s hilarious cameo in the beginning!

  13. Gotcha! Well, this is the 5 way switch pickup knob that is going out. I’m not good at guitar tech stuff unless it is easy…

    I took apart the strat by the pickguard and almost could not get my pickup back in the springs! haha. I got scared b/c we had 2 play for worship the next day!

  14. Ya, it might be good to look for a tech then. I’ve had switches go out in a couple guitars, and after replacing them, everything’s fine. In my experience, they just don’t last too long, unfortunately. :)

  15. Yeah, the switch is just a bit more complicated to replace than a bad pot since all three pups are routed through there as well as the pots. However, I wouldn’t think it’d be too expensive to have this replaced. It’s a pretty simple job for someone who knows what they’re doing.

  16. hehe True…not entirely too difficult. First time I ever did it though, I took pictures of all the solder joints before I disconnected anything. I was really, really nervous putting it back together!

  17. Gotcha! I might have to get a tech. I had it go out right before the electric instrumental on “The Stand” tonight! haha…I had to jiggle it really fast! I had lots of delay on so I’m sure it gave a nice little echoed pop! :)

  18. And to add to your guitar discussion…I played my friend’s LP through my rig, and it did wonders! so amazing!

    Then I sadly had to give it back! :)

  19. Karl, the new guitar looks really, really nice. I mean, it’s basically a new guitar, right? The finish is great, and the rosewood w/ dot inlay is really sharp. That alone really helped the look of the guitar. But the new finish is so much better and natural than that bright emerald green color of before. All and all, the guitar “looks” more like the music you play, if that makes sense. And I have a feeling it does. Thanks for posting. I know I’m one of the ones who kept asking.

  20. Brandon–ah, the delayed pops! haha I know them well. :) What kind of Les Paul?

    Hippie Killer–thanks, brother! Ya, basically a new guitar. Same piece of wood for the body, same pickups, and same tuning pegs. That’s about it!

    And I totally feel the same way! The look of this guitar seems to fit my style of music a lot better. Kind of understated and earthy. :) Cheers, bro!

  21. Glad you got her back, Karl!

    I hope everyone can check out Hope for Joplin.

    I’m so blessed to have a track on the same compilation as the mighty Karl. ;)

  22. haha First time I’ve been referred to as that! Many times as ‘the guy who can’t play a proper lick and hides behind his delay pedals.’ ;) hehehe

    But your track on the album sounds lovely. :)

  23. Wow, your reborn Prairiewood is amazing eye candy! At first glance, I wasn’t sure I liked the change in green hue, but ya, the maple really pops now–good call. It is SO exhilarating when a guitar is both beautiful, and sounds fantastic, isn’t it? Sigh. My pretty PRS doesn’t sound as good as my ho-hum 10 pound LesPaul. And regarding the Braz: I can think of no more appropriate use for this wood than to help construct an instrument so attractive, so toneful, & so long lasting as this one (and others like it) Enjoy!

  24. It was just a reg Epiphone…I think he got it for around $500. Now he has done some major stuff to it because he is really into gear…

    He did mention he was jealous of your 4,000+ delay pedals on your board! haha…he has 3.

    • I’d like to know what everyone is using, but I do the +4db. It sounded better and louder through my rig…

      It comes with -20 db stock I think…

  25. Brandon–cool!! haha 3 is a perfectly respectable number of delay pedals. ;) Some would say more respectable than my number. lol

    Nater2d–I just use the stock -20db.

  26. Wow. Just saw this. Our church went to Joplin for post-DR DR. That place was a wreck. We only got to help for 4 days, but it was the least we could do for them.

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