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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Johnny Winter's Custom Alembic

Rick Turner took guitar and bass design to new levels in the early 1970s as a partner at Alembic, and he went over the edge in 1974 with this custom Alembic guitar for blues legend Johnny Winter.

Turner took his inspiration for the dragon motif from Winter's tattoos, and the actual design of the dragon came from an Irish carving he saw on the back of a hand mirror his grandmother owned. He carved the dragon into the body of bubinga, maple, mahogany and ebony. He cut the multi-layered "fire" from the dragon's mouth directly from an abalone shell.

As a silversmith's helper in the late '60s, Turner made a lot of fabricated, soldered and welded jewelry in copper, brass, bronze and silver, and many of his custom Alembics reflected that experience. For Winter's guitar he handmade the brass bridge and tailpiece and the hammered, 16-gauge brass control cover on the back. He bound the fingerboard in sterling silver and installed LED lights for the side dot markers.

Although Alembic continued to use exotic woods for basses and guitars, this is the last fully sculptural guitar Turner made at Alembic.
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