Magazine article Guitar Player

Deke the Guitar Geek: Gay Acoustic

Magazine article Guitar Player

Deke the Guitar Geek: Gay Acoustic

Article excerpt

OKAY, CHUCKLEHEADS, GET IT OUT OF YOUR system now, because the guitar we're featuring this month is indeed a Gay guitar. However, the Gay in question here is a little-known luthier based out of Canada in the 1950s and '60s named Frank Gay, who built some of the most wild and far-out custom acoustic guitars in modern history. Gay's unorthodox guitars--from their nearly-rectangular shaped bodies, to their Salvador Dali-esque headstock shapes--were perfect for country and western stars of yesteryear such as Webb Pierce, Johnny Horton, and Carl Smith, because these artists prided themselves on standing out in a crowd with everything from embroidered Nudie suits to rhinestone-encrusted Cadillacs.

Little is known of Frank Gay in this country, but he is well-remembered in Edmonton, Alberta, where he set up a luthiery operation in 1953, building everything from lutes and mandolins to flamenco guitars, steel-string acoustics, and even some solidbody electrics. The most unusual Gay I've ever seen is the guitar pictured here. It was made for country singer Ferlin Husky, and now resides in the prestigious Mac Yasuda collection. I had seen the guitar on many of Husky's album covers, and I thought the guitar was simply a Gibson J-200 painted with some wacky designs.

However, upon viewing this guitar in person over the summer at the incredible Rhinestones and Twangtones exhibit at the Fullerton museum in Fullerton, California, it struck me as perhaps Gay's finest moment. …

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