#2102 12” five string open-back banjo

This was a custom commission for a friend. It’s the first banjo I have built both the neck and rim for, and really the first fully acoustic instrument I have successfully built. The rim is composed of alternating segmented layers of red mulberry and walnut, with an integral flange, instead of the more common array of metal brackets; with the tension nuts recessed in the back. The neck features the same woods, in a complimentary arrangement, with a persimmon fretboard. The headstock inlay and position markers are turquoise recon stone, and I recessed the area around the tension hooks, and painted it a similar color milk paint.

1/4” round brass tone ring and grooved tension hoop by Balsam Banjo Works; Pisgah Hawktail brass tailpiece; Rickard brass coordinator rod set; Waverly planetary tuners.

#2101 electric tenor

This was a custom commission; a 22 3/4″ scale electric tenor guitar, tuned GDAE.
The body is sassafras, with an arched chestnut barnwood top, walnut/maple neck, and black locust fretboard.
The finish is milk paint, in a color decidedly reminiscent of the “avocado” enamel on many mid-last-century appliances, as inspired by the “Frigidaire” name badge I used as a switch bezel. The pickguard, as well, is cut from a diamond-textured sheet of thin aluminum which looks like it came from the inside of a freezer. The Bigsby B12 tailpiece also resembles a piece of old icebox hardware.
The bridge is by Mastery, and the tuners are Hipshot.
Pickups are a four pole version of my homespun single coils.
weighs 6.3 pounds.

New brand… who’s this?

So yeah… it’s been a while.

Over a year, in fact; a really long year, in which I got very little done.

This is the headstock of an electric tenor guitar I started last summer. I’ll post more about it soon, but right now I wanna talk about my fancy new logo. Don’t worry, I’ll still be using the old one too, but Dismal Ax is a thing I have been hiding behind for too long. I started using it, rather than my name, because my name always seemed weird to me when I saw it in print; and seemed even weirder to apply to my work for some reason. I changed that name several years ago, and feel like I’ve finally grown into it enough to start putting it on my instruments. My more basic solid body electric guitars and basses will continue to get my old logo burned into the front of the headstock, but my fancier custom work, and other kinds of instruments will get this new “GF” inlay. This one is done in aluminum, to go with the hardware on the body. I’m not sure what other materials I will use yet, though. I kinda want to avoid pearl and abalone and such, but we’ll see. Anyway, I’m really happy with it!

#1902 Barnstormer (this one goes to eleven)


This is one I started last October, in hopes of having ready for the show, but ran out of time for.

Body is elm barnwood rafter sections, hollowed, with a red milk paint finish.

Neck is maple, with black locust fretboard. 22 frets, 25″ scale.

Homespun single coil pickups, bridge: 10k ohm DCR, neck 8k.

Aluminum compensated bridge/tailpiece combo.

Hipshot classic tuners.

Weighs 7 pounds.

$1750. gwen@dismalax.com

#1506 Lunch Counter SC (makeover)

This is another one of the axes I re-did for the show last November.

Here is how it looked originally, in 2015:

And now:

Body is sassafras, with a milk paint finish, lightly sanded back to show the grain.

Neck is maple, with a black locust fretboard.

Bridge plate is made from a small stainless steel serving tray.

Switch plate is made from an electric motor data plate.

Pickguard is Formica.

Tele-style pickups, bridge: 7.5k neck: 7k

Grover mini rotomatic tuners.

Weighs 7.4 pounds


#1805 Railyard DC “high voltage”

Fourth in the series of railroad themed guitars for Rail Yard Studios, made from a couple types of mahogany-like timber salvaged from the decking of decommissioned railroad cars.

Another double-cutaway model, with chambered body and arched top, displaying the original tongue and groove joints along the edges, this one with a distressed milk paint finish on the body.

The tailpiece and pickguard are made from an iron strap hinge, and the control plate from a tin utility pole sign.

The New York Central emblem is an antique cereal box prize.

Hipshot classic tuners, handmade brass fixed intonation bridge, two homespun humbucking pickups.

#1804 Railyard DC

Third in the series of railroad themed guitars for Rail Yard Studios, made from a couple types of mahogany-like timber salvaged from the decking of decommissioned railroad cars.

One of two double-cutaway models, with chambered bodies and arched tops, displaying the original tongue and groove joints along the edges.

This one features a pickguard made from a stainless steel builders plate from the running gear of a diesel locomotive.

Last photo shows the Timken roller bearing serial plate I forgot to add.

Single coil pickups, 9.2k/7.5k

Brass compensated tailpiece, Hipshot tuners.

Weight 7.5 pounds.