Comics & Guitar: A perfect team-up?

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I’ve been kicking around an idea, lately that would combine two of my favorite things into one awesome project, and I would love for you to follow me on this journey. Follow me after the jump, and let’s see where I want to go with this.

I started playing guitar when I was 13 years old, mainly because of two things that caught my ear as kid, Metallica’s “Black Album” (Smell The Glove!) and Eric Clapton: Unplugged. Two very different albums, that to me just caught me and wouldn’t let go. I saw Van Halen that year, touring I think on the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge tour, with Vince Neil opening, I was hooked. I started taking lessons at the local music store, at first really just wanting to play a bunch of crap that was also popular at the time, but then my guitar teacher did what any good teacher does. He opened my eyes, especially to a lot of classic rock that blew my head off. Jethro Tull, Cream, Blue Oyster Cult, the James Gang, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, I may have learned a Stryper song or two. When my guitar wasn’t in my hands, comic books were.

In the same way that reading a comic book is a solitary experience, the way you view a page as a whole, then take the art, words, and flow of a page in as you read, playing guitar is a personal experience. Sure, you can jam with other people, you can force your neighbors to listen to you playing For Whom The Bell Tolls at full blast, but what the playing really does for you is let you experience things on your own, in your own way.

Playing music in a band, rehearsing until you are incredibly tight is amazing, especially once you have gotten to a point where you can jam with your band and make people think you knew at all what was going to happen before you started a song is even better. Better than any drug. Playing guitar can help you deal with emotions, with situations, you may not know on a conscious level how to deal with. You can connect with people in a song on multiple levels, and those levels change based on their age, history, their mindset. A comic book does that too. Maybe when you were growing up, you connected with Spider-Man or the X-Men, because you felt like an outsider. As you get older you realize that the X-Men connected to you, and others for different reasons, they can stand in for many different things, and that resonance can be deeper or shallower depending on who you are at that moment. Like a pop song, a comic can be both extremely popular, and intensely personal.

Sorry, I started rambling a bit there, let’s get to what this post is really about, not comics and guitars as two separate things, but combining the two. All that stuff up top and I never got to the point. I’ve played guitar for years, but never felt very comfortable when it came to doing any modifications or repairs to my guitars, especially since for a long time I had only one electric guitar and I was terrified I would try to do something and screw things up somehow. I wanted another guitar that would be my project guitar, something inexpensive that I could screw around with without worrying I would get in over my head and then be without a guitar for awhile.

All my searching around led me to a fairly new company out of Southern California called Hardluck Kings and the guitar I was watching for a bit, the Southern Belle. The Belle is a bitchin’ Tele-style guitar, with a rosewood fret-board, and totally cool X inlays. Every so often the have killer sales on the site, and I swooped up on a matte black Belle at a dirt cheap price to be my project guitar. What kind of project? Well, I’m contemplating a few things. The first part, the combining comics and a guitar part, is doing a comics decoupage to the body. Here is a video from YouTube to illustrate what I mean.

Groovy right? Next, poking around online I have found a few places that will custom print pick-guards with whatever you want on them. Shannon from Exspastic Comics (who I talked to here, go pick up Chewler & Disgruntled Avenger comics) drew me an amazing picture, but I’m not quite sure if some adjustments will have to be made for the neck pickup and just oddball shape of the Tele-style pick-guard, but we’ll get there later.

Next, I want to replace the pickups. The stock HLK pickups in the guitar aren’t terrible by any means, and are amazingly quiet for single-coils, but it’s a project guitar right? What do I want to throw in? For the bridge I’m thinking the Little ’59 from Seymour Duncan. For the neck, maybe the Vintage Stack rhythm? Not totally sure yet.

And finally, I have talked with Adam from Axeology more than once about installing a 5-way pick-up switch, instead of the standard Tele-style 3-way switch. That is all I can think of for now.

Would this be something you would be interested in following along with? What kind of mods have you done? Any advice or recommendations would be greatly appreciated, feel free to leave them in the comments. Rock on.

-Kris

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