PHOTOS: After a long development period, this guitar has the very first production Element™ 2.0 precision machined aircraft aluminum neck. Many prototypes have shipped out into the world, but now we begin to play for keeps. The satin natural finish of the metal gleams against master grade quarter sawn flame maple. Swamp ash back. Guitar body is fully chambered and sculpted. Hand fabricated solid copper 3D electronics control plate matches the semi-precious metals often used as ornamentation in longrifles of the Eighteenth Century.
I have a theory that the deer rifle made possible a revolution in political thinking which lead to the founding of the United States. Combined with Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, these two tools allowed — for the first time in political civilization — the rights of the Individual to supersede the needs of the State.
One provided the thinking. One provided the muscle.
The American Longrifle, also known as a "Kentucky Rifle" or a "Pennsylvania Rifle" is unique in western civilization because it was the first firearm made by free men and sold to free men. Gunsmiths working alone in small shops were able to build these machines from locally obtained resources, apart from the restrictions and control of government.
Suddenly, the common man was armed. A situation greatly feared throughout history by controllers of organized political power and natural resources.
With this weapon in hand, it became possible to not only defend your home, acquire meat for your table, but also to organize militarily (and ultimately defeat) the fully-equipped and well-trained soldiers of Europe's finest armies.
The superior range and accuracy of the American Longrifle — designed to hunt deer — made it possible to wage asymmetric warfare in the forests of North America. Which meant, in practical language, you could stand behind the safety of a tree and kill enemy soldiers from a great distance as they stood in beautifully uniformed arrayed rows.
These tactics were considered unfair and uncivilized by many, including those attempting to retain control. It is useful to remember however, one man's 'terrorist' can be another man's 'freedom fighter'. The quest for freedom has no rules.
The human need to each make our own decisions is so powerful.
PHOTO (above): Combined incise and relief hand carving decorates the instrument. I did not attempt to imitate any particular school or maker, but instead translate the spirit of Rococo art that was so often used as ornamentation on these rifles. Several steps remain in the finish process, but my intent was to duplicate the beautiful effects of wear and aging on 200 year old surfaces.
For additional context and photos, please visit the House Brothers website sponsored by the Contemporary Longrifle Association. Herschel House, Larry House, and John House are all living masters continuing this traditional art form.
PHOTO (below): Collectors take note. This guitar also features the original DiMarzio prototype pickups specifically designed by Steve Blucher and Eric Corpus for the S2 guitar project. The leatherwork is Brian Griffith's absolutely stunning Anthology Leather guitar case. It has a 100 year warranty.
I have a deep appreciation for the American Longrifle as a work of Art. The diverse range of hand skills required to build one of those guns is formidable — blacksmithing, cold forging, white forging, locksmithing, to wood carving, inlay, decoration and finish. True artisanship.
I thought I would build this guitar as an homage both to this art form, and also to its role in history. Today is Independence Day in the United States, our annual marking of separation from Great Britain and establishment as a sovereign Republic.
This guitar also marks a personal transition point for me.
A visit to my past, and skills my father taught me, a glimpse into my future via the new component system, and...a moment to remember and realize the meaning of independence.