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1. 2008 NAMM - Paul Unkert, The Guy Who Built EVH's Kramer Banana-Necked Guitars
2. Today's Q & A: Your Questions Answered
3. Become A PYOG Affiliate



1. 2008 NAMM - Paul Unkert, The Guy Who Built EVH's Kramer Banana-Necked Guitars

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While attending the January 2008 NAMM Show, I had the opportunity of meeting the man who built EVH's original Kramer Banana-necked guitars - way back in the early 1980's.

How I met him was one of those flukey chance meetings that leaves you scratching your head and saying - TIMING IS EVERYTHING! (as you'll see as you read this story.)

As I'm wandering the downstairs area of NAMM with my friend, Freedom, we see a booth with a great-lookin' young lady and she's holding this handheld back massager. The booth is selling these massagers, so in order to show you how good they work, this young gal is giving away FREE 5-minute massages. So, neither of us being DUMMIES, we sat down to get our "freebie."

While we're getting worked over, we're discussing Zakk Wylde and Eddie Van Halen. What we were noticing as we walked the floor of NAMM was the EVH brand - speakers, amps, strings, guitars, etc. Now, to a lot of us, EVH will always be "The KING." However, in my humble opinion, had the EVH brand started back when Ed was truly "KING," it would've been one of the most powerful brands EVER in the guitar industry. But, to me, the brand is about 20 years too late. Sure - it'll have an impact on the industry right now, but the impact is nothing like it would've been had it began back in the early to mid 80's.

And, that's where the discussion of Zakk Wylde came in. Zakk is a guy who obviously understood the power of having a "brand." And, that's why he struck the deal that he did with Gibson/Epiphone and allowed them to make replicas of his guitars - something EVH should've allowed Kramer to do back in the mid 80s.

So, as we're closing in on our "freebie" massage, the people that were standing directly in front of us, and who were blocking our view of the booth directly in front of us, decided to move. As they moved, I saw a large clear cylinder-shaped acrylic case that held inside of it, what looked to be - a KRAMER original EVH guitar. (It was like the parting of the Red Sea - the people moved, and there it was - a KRAMER original. Had they not moved, I would never have seen the guitar and learned the story below.)

So, Freedom and I got up and walked over to this case, and sure enough, what was inside was EVH's ORIGINAL Kramer "Hot For Teacher" guitar.

Along the wall of the booth was a very large photo of a young guy holding this guitar when it was first made.

As we stared at the poster and at the guitar, a man by the name of Paul Unkert came over to talk to us. Paul's new guitar company is UNK Guitars, however, back in the early 80's, Paul was working for Kramer and he was responsible for building Ed's banana-necked Kramer guitars.

As Paul told the story, he described how he had to make the headstocks for the guitars: "I needed a piece of wood wide enough to accommodate the shape of the explorer headstocks, but didn't have any wood lying around that would do. So, thinking fast on my feet, I was forced to use the headboard from my Grandpa's bed! IT WAS PERFECT!"

As you can see by the photos, the headstock is not very thick; it has a rounded edge on the back underside, and the paint work is, well - it's typical EVH!

If any of you remember, back in the mid 80's, Ed used to flip the guitar up and play it like a piano. On the back, the screw holes that held the special plate mounted to the back were still visible.

At the time the guitars were made, Paul was just 25 years old. Now in his 50's, Paul has put his extensive knowledge of building guitars to good use and has started his own company - UNK Guitars. Paul talked to us for about 20 minutes, shared some great stories with us, and is truly a GREAT guy.

I also had the chance to play one of his guitars, and man, talk about a GREAT-PLAYING GUITAR!

To learn more about Paul Unkert, UNK Guitars, and to hear a little more about his experience at Kramer, check out his website - UNK Guitars


2. Today's Q & A: Your Questions Answered

Q: I've read your e-books couple of times now and I was wondering about what's the best way to put vertical pinstripes on my guitar. I was thinking of buying automotive pinstriping tape, putting it on the body, masking outside the pinstripe tape, and painting. Is there an easier/better way? Should I just use regular masking tape and space the pieces the width of the pinstripes instead?

A: The best way to achieve pinstripes is to use 3M fine line tape - 1/8".

Let's say, you want a white guitar with black pinstripes, then, you would paint your guitar BLACK, lay down your 1/8" fine line tape, then paint it WHITE.

Apply all of the techniques from the book and it should work out well.


Q: I have consulted a luthier (30 yrs experience) and he says that when he paints a guitar that already has a finish on it he simply sands the clear coat off and goes from there. His rationale is that the factory paint has such a good bond with the wood that to sand down all the way to the grain is not necessary. He also stated that the method of sanding that is used in the book is also correct, but he just chooses to do it this way since it is easier and gets the same results.

A: Of course, I agree with him - but, I only do this when I know exactly what the guitar was finished with. If it's got a catalyzed finish on the guitar, then scuff-sanding and applying paint right over top of the scuffed finish is the way to go - just as I explain in the book.

But, what you don't want to do is put a new finish over paint when you have no idea what's already on there. What if it's Nitro - and, you decide to put acrylic lacquer over top? or a catalyzed urethane? What do you think will happen to that finish?

When in doubt, sand to sealer or bare wood and go from there. That way, you know that all of the paint you use will be compatible.




See you soon...

John Gleneicki
Author - The Book Series
AOL IM: paintyourownaxe

John Gleneicki has been painting guitars professionally for over 25 years.
He's a former Guitar WORLD Columnist and has also done
custom airbrush work for such companies as ESP Guitars.




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