It is not the first time Burls has made a guitar out of unconventional materials. Indeed, this is the fourth time he has made an electric guitar from coloured pencils. He recently he collaborated with 4ocean to turn plastic waste recovered from the ocean into a guitar. He has also made a guitar out of 5,000 coffee beans, out of skateboards, epoxy... He made a bass guitar out of Lego.
But where his previous coloured-pencil build from two years ago used a piece of figured maple for the neck and featured a bolt-on design, this one goes all in with the epoxy and Crayola for a neck-through build, and the detail that went into making it is mind-blowing.
To start out, the coloured pencils are trimmed in a saw and placed into a mould, pinned down by bracing before being set in Total Boat clear casting epoxy resin. There after the guitar is machined-sawed and then cut to a template based on a PRS body shape.
Burls has previously used all kinds of weird materials for the fingerboard. The 4ocean guitar recycled plastic drink straws and turned them into an eye-popping fingerboard design. This is more classic, using a piece of birds-eye maple inlayed with dot makers fashioned from pencil cuttings.
As Burls explains, he has refined his technique over the years. Sanding coloured pencils can make the top of the guitar turn brown, but the colour can be restored after sanding with a quick touch up with a razor.
Guitarists can and will argue the toss over tonewood until the cows come home – there is surely already a Reddit thread about the midrange response between blue Crayola pencils and red, but let’s not go there. One thing we can all agree on, however, is that electric guitar pickups are crucial. Here, Burls has gone for a trio of single-coils for a Strat vibe.
“A lot of my builds I’ve used humbuckers mainly because I think they look better in general but with the type of music I play, I actually prefer the sound of single-coil pickups,” he explains. “The pickups. I’m using in this are Fender Vintage ’57/’62 single-coils.”
Nice choice. Reverse engineered from a 1963 Fender Stratocaster, they give this colour pencil guitar a sweet tone. Check out the build and demo above. Head to Burls Art for more details of his weird, wonderful and ultimately functional builds.