Besides playing Hiwatt amps and Les Paul Deluxes, there were a number of other things I had in common with Pete Townsend, the least flattering having to do with a tendency to smash my gear on stage, probably as part of the post traumatic symptoms of industrial overdose. Life was rough back in the day, and we burried much pain and anger. So if we acted rebellious on occasion, even if the timing sucked on a lot of accountabilities, we had good reasons to do so. Luckily for me, that phase has come to pass. So, finding myself without an axe after a tantrum, I decided to build my own guitars. I may embellish at times, but this is the plain truth: my only tools were a beat-up chisel, a manual drill, a stone-age jigsaw, some sandpaper, and one glorious half of a broken and heavily gauged maple butcher block for the body blank. I amaze myself at my own capacity for wishful thinking... With the help of a few cans of decorator’s spray paint from ACE hardware, the freshly re-glued neck of a Kramer guitar that had suffered multiple fractures and a few other vital parts, I embarked on the business of instrument making… Avocado and salmon pink finish; brilliant!
The thing is that it played and still does…
A decade later and with some refinements added along the way, I mustered enough confidence for the big game and started building for customers. I have concentrated mainly on the two classics from Leo Fender, finding it very hard to separate myself from these ingenious proletarian designs which in my book are simply perfect. I have built others of my own design that are splendid, but my heart goes to these two. I craft every instrument by hand from raw hand-picked woods that are stickered and shop dried, and every step is immaculately executed. Guitar making, in its most intimate moments, is a spiritual experience. There is no price to what goes into a guitar that has been brought to life that way. It takes roughly 100 hours of labor for each instrument and I don’t even do the fancy inlays and bindings! All modesty aside, what comes out of the shop is simply the best bunch of electric guitars I have test-driven and I revel in the thought that one day you too will own and play one of them. Peace and love.
Not too long ago, Jocelyn Dominger of Dominger pick-ups proposed to do business together and we formed FJ Coyote Guitars. Interestingly enough, Joce was born and raised three miles from my old home in France, and we have a lot in common. Joce is a phenomenal guitar player and had Brian Johnson of AC/DC beg him to do something together, not once but seven times… Joce said no. But I digress…
We built a line of instruments together here in California, just the two of us cutting, sanding, spraying… We both agreed it was the best time of our lives. We had a dream and we made guitars talk and sing. Unfortunately, that vision suffered from the lack of the peripheral kind and finances did us in. The entire guitar market collapsed under us and we closed shop. It was a death in the family. Jocelyn and Tammie Dominger still hand wind the best pick-ups in the business and they are featured on all my instruments and will to the end.
FJ Coyote Natural in northern ash