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May 22, 2004
A massive 32 foot long, fully functional electric guitar has been made by a team of builders including legendary pickup guru Seymour W. Duncan, luthier Matty Baratto, and the "best-of-the-best" craftsmen from the television series Monster House and Monster Garage.
The guitar was built for the Discovery Channel Network television series BIG! and will air June 15, 2004. The BIG! series shows how things are made and work by building the objects over-sized.
"The BIG! Guitar is the third episode in the BIG! series," said Jeff Kuntz, series producer. "Each episode brings together builders from the Monster House and Monster Garage series with industry veterans to build an over-sized object to show how it works. The building of the BIG! Guitar was the best show to date. We were amazed at the cooperation we received from the music industry."
The BIG! Guitar is nine times to scale the size of a standard electric guitar, and measures 32 feet 5 inches. The total weight is over 2,500 lbs. It is considered to be the world's largest, complete to scale, fully functioning electric guitar.
"The record for the largest electric guitar is a 43 foot Flying V," notes Chris Stone, music industry consultant for the BIG! Guitar. "However that guitar uses six standard sized pickups, whereas the BIG! Guitar has a single, 156 pound humbucker pickup designed specifically for this project."
Matty Baratto designed the original guitar that the BIG! Guitar is based on. "The design is a hybrid of my favorite '60's guitars," said Baratto, who has built guitars for Bucket Head, Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray, and B Real of Cypress Hill. "Building this guitar was an experience of a lifetime, and it was a complete honor to work with the man himself -- Seymour Duncan."
Seymour Duncan seconded that sentiment. "Working with all of these creative people really made it an experience of a lifetime," said Duncan. " It was amazing seeing how these craftsmen were able to work together on this build and complete it in five days. They truly are the best of the best."
The BIG! Guitar production includes a visit to the Seymour Duncan factory. "We wanted to show people where the magic happens and hear a some of the stories Seymour has about working with greats such as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Eddie Van Halen." notes Kuntz. "Its something that I think both musicians and music buffs alike will appreciate."
Baratto and Duncan were joined by the builders from the television series Monster Garage and Monster House. These builders include: Lisa LeGohn - Master welder and L.A. Trade Tech Instructor, Reverend Gadget - Steel fabricator, mechanical engineer and metal craftsman, Wink Eller - Custom fabricator and bike builder, and Eric Scarlett - Metal fabricator and custom car builder
The team of builders completed the guitar in five days. The pickup, built separately, took ten days to build.
The BIG! Guitar measures 32' 5" from end to end. The BIG! Guitar body measures13'3" and is made from multiple sheets of Douglas Fir plywood shaped to the exact dimensions of the original guitar. The sides are made of flex-board, which allowed the builders to form the sides to the contours of the body. The body finish is 2 gallons of Viper Red car paint.
The BIG! Guitar neck, measures 19' 2" long, and is made from 7 planks of Poplar which were glued together then hand shaped. The fretboard is made from 8 sheets of Walnut. The 21 frets are made of 1" half round aluminum stock. A forklift was used to lift the 1,100-pound neck so that it could be attached to the guitar body using a bolt-on method.
The hardware including the tuning keys, knobs and bridge are custom made by the builders, milled from aluminum.
Seymour Duncan built the massive 158 pound humbucker pickup for the BIG! Guitar in his Santa Barbara factory. "I used a '59 P.A.F. pickup as the model for the big pickup. We included every detail, even the squared out bobbin holes," notes Duncan. "I hand wound the pickup on a custom winder built specifically for this project. The original '59's were hand wound, so that's what we did on the big pickup that you'll be able to see us winding on the BIG! Guitar episode."
To test the BIG! Guitar, a massive 36 x 10 650-watt Ampeg amplifier was used. The head houses 22 vacuum tubes. The amp weighs 950 pounds.
"Because of the scale of this project, we knew it would be nearly impossible to play," notes Stone. "So we decided to make the world's biggest slide, tune to an open E, and had host Frank Payne run alongside with the slide as Seymour plucked the massive strings. The only way to describe the sound is BIG!"
The BIG! series is produced by Original Productions (producers of the Monster Garage and Monster House series) for the Discovery Channel Network. The BIG! Guitar episode will air June 15, 2004 at 9 PM (Eastern and Pacific) on the Discovery Channel.
BIG! Guitar Specs:
SVT 36x10 Speaker Cabinet Specifications:
SVT 36x10 Amplifier Head Specifications:
For more information, visit their web site at www.discovery.com