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|Let's say you own a large production guitar facility, Let's say that a
famous pro endorser, who you are paying top dollar for is not satisfied with
your usual off the rack BS guitars. Let's say this guitar player who happens to
wear a Top Hat and isn't real easy to please wants to get a real custom made
Who Ya' Gonna' Call'
Posted By Ed Roman 12/02
Ok Kids, today we are going to learn a new word, "Ghostbuilder"
You may be skeptical regarding some of the facts that I
will be relating to you in the examples section below. It is
possible that there may be a couple of errors, it's possible that some dates are
incorrect but 98% of the facts below I can personally substantiate.
Some of these are supposed to be kept
secret. I have not listed all of the ones that I know or I might get some friends
of mine into trouble. Some of them are common knowledge, most of them are little
known facts that the big guitar manufacturers don't really want you to know.
I have received about 60 letters since I
posted this with people asking me to remove their names from this list. I have
even been threatened with lawsuits for disclosing some of these facts. So this
list has shrunk quite a bit from it's original size.
How many people know what a Ghostwriter is? In the publishing
business a Ghostwriter can be several things..........
- Most commonly a Ghostwriter is someone who writes someone's
life story or autobiography for them. For example, let's say you never got past
the 5th grade but you became famous. (Actually many people who do become
famous are not well educated). Simon & Schuster wants to do an
autobiography of your life and times. They will approach you with a cash offer
and give you the option of using someone else, to actually write the book. That
someone else could be called a Ghostwriter. You would sit & be interviewed by
the Ghostwriter who would write the book or story in the first person.
- A different kind of Ghostwriter might be a young talented
storyteller or Sci-Fi writer that nobody ever heard of. A well known writer like
Tom Clancy or Steven King or Harold Robbins might read a story by him and like
it. In fact, he might like it so much, that he might buy the rights to the
story and then rewrite it in their style so that it would be a guaranteed best
seller. Of course the Ghostwriter would get no credit. I am not suggesting that
the well known writers I listed above have ever done this, or may have done
this, or even thought about doing this. The only reason I used those names
were for analogy purposes only. I haven't got even the slightest idea that any
one of these people ever engaged in any activities like that.
Ghostwriters write books, songs, poems, plays, movie scripts, and very
commonly jokes. Do you think that Jay Leno or David Letterman don't use a
bunch of joke writers backstage. The only thing that separates a Ghostwriter
from a known writer is who gets the credit. When Conan says something funny, how
do we know if it was him talking, or some talented joke writer backstage.
Actually Conan was a writer before he was a celebrity. He wrote lots of
jokes for people. He even wrote some of the Simpson's episodes.
How about a Ghost Singer, Can you say "Milli
Are you starting to get my point? It happens all the time, in fact it's so
common it has actually become accepted.
Well, that still doesn't make it right. If I bought Jimi Hendrix's biography I
would surely enjoy it more if it was written by Jimi and not by Joe Schmeaux. (Schmeaux is my poetic
license name for Schmoe). By the way, anything you read on my website,
is directly from me. Punctuation mistakes & all.
In the guitar business, a Ghostbuilder is someone who builds a guitar for
a celebrity or another company but does not put his name on the headstock.
Many years ago my
shop Ghostbuilt several Spector lefthanded basses because their
machinery was not set up to do lefthanded instruments. Carl Thompson used
Ron Blake to Ghostbuild
hundreds of basses including one for Les Claypool, Stanley Clarke and Jeff
Berlin. In fact Ron Blake built most of the Carl Thompson custom basses
for over 15 years.
Listen To Uncle Billy, He knows the score !!!!
"Been There Done That"
A friend of mine sent me your web page yesterday--very impressive
site, by the way.
What caught my eye was that you are the only person I've seen post
anything about a fellow luthier I worked with back in the early 80's
down in Atlanta, Georgia. It was Kris Derrig!!
(See below under Slash's Les Paul's)
We worked at a shop called Atlanta Guitar Works. I flew down to AGW
after I completed a guitar repair vo-tech program in Minnesota,
that's how I met Kris. We became fast friends. After work, we would
cruise in his convertible.
So sad to hear about his passing.
Kris was amazing: He had a huge pin router set up in his small
apartment. His attention to detail was perfect, he indeed, could
build a better LP than Gibson. Back at AGW, Kris would get set up
for spraying his lacquer by taking the siphon cup full of straight
lacquer, no solvent, and heat it up on a hot plate to thin it.
"holy shit, Kris, you're gonna burn the shop down", I'd say.
He'd just laugh with his North Carolina accent, and spray away. He
would spray with one light bulb on in the outside hall, he said he
could "see" better in low light. Dude must have had cat eyes.
I know for a fact he build a ghost LP for Charlie Daniels in the
early 80's: He stood in line at a record store, opened up the guitar
case when it was his turn to meet Charlie. He did one for Dicky
Things didn't work out too well for Kris and me with the owner of
AGW, so I went back to Minneapolis where I eventually got a gig with
Knut Koupee Music, and I lost track of Kris.
Just thought you might be interested in some more biography material
Note from Ed
"Kris Derrig Is Famous
because he is "The Man" who built most of Slash's Les Paul's"
Read Below for Amazing
||Several different no name Korean companies, Ghostbuild
all the Schecter & ESP's Most of the Washburns and Music Yo Kramers.
||Heritage Guitars Ghostbuilt the top of the line USA made
Gretsch until the quality problems forced Gretsch to go to Terada in Japan.
||Jim Triggs Ghostbuilt
all the D'Angelico models when Heritage couldn't keep up with production and
their quality was dropping off.
|I have been challenged and I am now
told by a number of people that it was Kris Derrig who made a number of
Slash's Les Paul Replicas.
He may have also had some of the Max Replicas also but I really don't know.
It's funny that Gibson was about to crash and burn
and Slash saved the company with a replica guitar.
Derrig Built a number of 1959 Replicas for Slash, I have been contacted by a
number of people who have given me names of over 12 different Luthiers who
are building better Les Paul's than Gibson !!!
I won't mention their names because I don't wish the wrath of Gibson on them
letter sent in by a customer, he asked me to print it on the Ghostbuilder
page. (Read On)
Sheesh...I'm always amazed at how far out of whack this story gets! I
have corrected this story on the LPF and other forums, so I guess I'll do
it here as well.
Kris Derrig was a close friend of Jim Foote, the owner of Music Works in
Redondo Beach, Ca. back in the 80's. At that time a lot of the more
popular/up & coming local LA bands came to MusicWorks to rehearse in the
studio. Among these was Dokken, Guns 'n Roses, Great White, etc. Kris
Derrig was staying there part time, and he was building Les Paul replicas
(on his own initiative) to fund fixing up his Pontiac LeMans convertible.
Chris had a motorhome parked in the MusicWorks parking lot that he lived
in while the LeMans car restoration was going on. All of the local players
knew Kris (and Jim Foote) from being around the studio, and as would be
expected, wound up talking to him. At the time Kris was finishing up a
replica (to fund more car restoration cash), GnR were in the Studio and
Slash's guitar was giving him fits, as it wouldn't stay in tune. He came
in to MW and Kris agreed to let him borrow the guitar for the recordings.
Kris stuck a set of Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro pickups in it because
Kris needed some pickups in the guitar for Slash to use, and these were
the only spare pickup set that Foote had at the time (APH-1 alnico II
pro™) to lend him. Derrig put the pickups in, lent the guitar to Slash
(who later had their manager pay for it), Slash played it on the "Appetite
for Destruction" album, and lots of folks went bonkers for the tone.
Summary: MAX did not build Slash's guitar used on AFD, Kris Derrig did.
Kris died of leukemia in the late 80's shortly before finishing his
LeMans, but well after he finished the replica that became Slash's guitar
used on AFD. When you read articles talking to Slash about the guitar he
used on AFD, and he refers to the builder as "the guy in Redondo Beach,
CA", that's who he's talking about...Kris Derrig, not MAX/Peter Barant.
MusicWorks left that location years ago, but is still on Artesia Blvd,
just 1 mile down the street in Lawndale, Ca now. Jim Foote is still the
owner of MusicWorks, is a business associate and friend of mine, and I've
been aware of the actual truth of this for years, well before I got on
line to guitar/LP/gear forums. There are pics of the guitar in an old
photo album before it went out the door to Slash, and a framed picture as
well hovering around the shop somewhere. There are also many gold/platinum
records on the wall presented to Foote/MusicWorks from GnR. Great White,
Dokken, etc. There is a sort of a "shrine" to Kris in the toolroom in the
form of his tools mounted on a pegboard that he used to make these guitars
to this day.
I hope this clears up once and for all who made Slash's guitar. MAX has
made, and (maybe) for all I know, still makes Les Paul & Flying V
replicas. From what I hear he does a great job, although I've never played
one. I have played several Derrig's, and they're not perfect replicas, but
they're damned fine guitars with unique tops, and great workmanship. which are no longer
being made. MusicWorks still has a presence in the LA area as a premier
repair shop, specializing in guitar restorations, repairs, and amp
repairs. You can have your "Burst" or PAF's authenticated, run into Don
Dokken, Lenny Kravitz, Robben Ford, Alexander Dumble, Kirk Fletcher, and
alot of other local LA music luminaries there, too.
Edited to correct Kris' name spelling, and to change the car from a GTO to
a LeMans convertible. Sorry, Bill!
||Tacoma Guitars solely owned by Fender Ghostbuilds all of
the Guild flat top acoustic guitars
||Bruce Becvar Ghostbuilt Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones
Alembic Omega Bass.
|JBG Ghostbuilt Fender & Gibson Vintage Style Guitars
and Basses for ZZ Tops Billy Gibbons & Dusty Hill. Also for Joe Perry.
||John Suhr built the now defunct Terry Rogers "Mallie"
from day one till the end.
||Chu Shin Gakki in Japan Ghostbuilds all the Jackson imported
guitars (Very fine quality)
||Paul Reed Smith actually Ghostbuilt Ted Nugent a Gibson
Byrdland back in 1974. Ted wanted something better than stock.
There are other rumors Of PRS building Explorers for ZZ Top under the Gibson
name but no one is admitting to it.
|Fuji Gen Gakki Ghostbuild the Japanese Fenders and many
of the Ibanez guitars available.
||Jackson Guitars Ghostbuilt all the
Neal Schon Guitars in
the 80's (I purchased the last 170 of them) still some available.
||Tokai used to build all of the original Mosrite Japanese
models including "The Ranger" Great Quality
||Tom Anderson built a lot of the Kramers for Kramer's
artist roster back in the 80's
||All of the Kramer USA guitars that said "Made in USA"
were actually manufactured in Canada by Godin Guitar Company. Just because a
neckplate says "Kramer Neptune NJ" that does not mean that
Kramer Guitars makes anything there. It simply means that is where it's
corporate headquarters are.
||Canadian Garrison Guitars are built by some nameless
Chinese company (Quality is Very Poor)
||Ed Roman's Custom Shop Ghostbuilt several of the Gene
Simmons USA Made AXE Basses after Kramer went out of business. We had
to pay Gene $1,000.00 each for the right to do it. But that of course gets
passed on to the customer. (Ouch)
||Joe Despagne (AKA JEM) Ghostbuilt many of Steve Vai's original
Ibanez brand name guitars.
I am just reprinting this I have no idea who is right and who is wrong.
When I met Max he struck me as an
The bottom line is his guitars were better than the stock Gibson's No
|A California luthier named "MAX" Ghostbuilds most of
Slash's guitars that say Gibson on them. Slash actually told
interviewers this and it actually got printed.
Originally Posted by Max on the Les Paul F0rum
actually the true story is as follows. Guns-n-Roses lived and rehearsed
in a garage in the alley behind my shop in Hollywood. I knew these guys
before Guns-n-Roses ever formed. one Friday afternoon Slash came in with a
friend of mine. He had just been signed to a record deal and was supposed
to start recording their first record on Monday. he didn't have a guitar.
any guitar ! ! ! he knew I made 'bursts' and wanted one. I had nothing
finished. He kept pressing me to help him out somehow. finally I told him
all I had that was finished was my personal 'burst'. I let him take it on
loan. he came back the following week and said he loved it and wanted to
buy it. he did not want the original 50's parts that were on it so he had
them removed and newer parts put on. this is the guitar he used in the
The Derrig 'burst' was purchased later and was used on tour. it is the one
in all the photos. it is the one he refers to as his 'main guitar' as, at
that time, it was his main live guitar until he bought that ugly 80's
Gibson. he keeps my guitar locked away in storage and only brings it out
to record with. this is his main recording guitar. his interviews are
vague and confusing but, I know because I was there and I still hang out
with Slash every once in awhile. sorry to differ with your story but
that's the way it happened.
Keep the faith, Max
||Danelectro Ghostbuilt the Sears Silvertones &
Montgomery Wards guitars of the early 60's.
||Epiphone guitars are built by numerous Chinese
companies. There are so many different companies actually making guitars
under that name that it's impossible to find out all the names !!!!!
|Ibanez USA Models
||PBC Guitars, (Dave Bunker)
Ghostbuilt all the USA Made Ibanez Custom Shop guitars for about 3 maybe 4 years.
||JBG Ghostbuilds Guitars for Keith Richards and
Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones. Many famous bands are contractually bound to
play certain brands.
|Polka Dot Vee
Ghostbuilt the Randy Rhoads Polka Dot Guitar for 12 years before actually
putting the brand name on the guitar.
|Rickenbacker builds some
pretty nice guitars
If you have large hands you simply can't play them.
If you are very hard on your
guitars the Rickenbacker's don't take abuse very well !!
This is an imitation
Rickenbacker builds some pretty nice guitars but if you
have large hands you
simply can't play them. If you are very hard on your guitars the
Rickenbacker's don't take abuse very well. Consequently Beatle Tribute Bands
ask us for Replicas all the time. They make great money so they don't care
what it costs. We have only done a couple with permission from
Rickenbacker but there are people out there that do it more commonly.
(Don't get caught or Rickenbacker will have your ass
for lunch) The guitarist in Tribute 64 builds his own and more
recently one of my customers built one for himself. He asked me to show it
here. I wish to make it clear that it is relatively easy to build a replica
There are hundreds of people out there building
replica vintage guitars. That is why I won't get heavily involved in the
vintage end of the business.
||ESP Ghostbuilt all of the early cheaper Kramer Strikers
& Aerodyne guitars
during the 80's`
||Terada Ghostbuilt the original high quality Gary Levinson
Blade guitars in the early 90's
||Ed Roman's Custom Shop Ghostbuilt all the
Jaros guitars for a 2 year period
when Jim Jaros hurt himself and could not build.
||Robert Godin (Robair Godan) Ghostbuilt almost all of the
American Made Kramers during the mid to later 80's. We knew about the
cheap ones being built by ESP but only recently we were made aware that
Kramer never actually made any American Guitars themselves !!!
|Jack Westheimer AKA Cort Ghostbuilds at least 40 brands
of guitars that you have heard of and probably assume are made by the
companies whose names are on the headstock.
||Ed Roman's Custom Shop Ghostbuilt the Van Halen Kramer Red
5150 style guitar after Kramer went out of business. Over 600 were
made between 1984 and 2003
||Ed Roman's Custom Shop Ghostbuilt the Van Halen Yellow
Candy stripe guitar with the Fender Headstock during the years 1989 and 2002
over 30 were made
||Ed Roman's Custom Shop Ghostbuilt 4 Ace Frehley style
flashing light guitars during the never ending Kiss last tour.
||Divisor Guitars Ghostbuilds the Tom Holmes Models that
are sold worldwide
||Ed Roman's Custom Shop Ghostbuilt over 200 Steinberger
style headless instruments using acquired old Steinberger parts after
Steinberger shut down
||PRS actually had their EG Model USA Ghostbuilt by a small
guitar manufacturer in Baltimore (I can't remember their name)
||Silvertone had all the guitars that Paul Stanley made
built by the legendary LA Ghostbuilder. Performance Custom.
Originally Performance made all of Steve Vai's wild Guitars like the flame
||Ed Roman recently got the contract to build the new
improved Mosrite quilt top ebony fretboard 65 reissue guitars (The Original
||2006 2007 2008 Eastman Guitars will be Ghostbuilding the popular
slimline that Heritage previously Ghostbuilt under private label for Ed Roman for 6 years.
||Heritage Guitars of Kalamazoo Ghostbuilt all the D'Angelico guitars in the
early 90's. (Heritage built a
great guitar during that era)
|It seems like everyday I hear more & more Ghostbuilder
stories. It involves pickup builders, electronic designers,
luthiers, engineers, inlay artists and other various items.
Some of these have been removed because I have been asked to
by parties involved.
ESP outsourced a Skull N' Bones body, This is not the best example
the bodies were really horrible. They hired a guy named Dave McSwain to carve
some bodies. They used an imported Asian made neck and proceeded to call these
crappy guitars made in USA.
PRS outsources their Dragon Inlays. Nothing wrong with that, it's totally
legal.... I just don't happen to like it that they use "The Dragon" as their
main icon and trademark etc etc. and they don't even really make it. It is
completely CNC made by the very talented Larry Siffel of Pearlworks in
Baltimore. I outsource some of my inlay work, almost everyone does. I just
don't try to iconoclize my products with trademarked outsourced items. (
Iconoclize? is that a word?) (yes it is, a very cromulent word indeed)
PRS has used the Dragon to embiggen themselves from a small company the
mega company they are today. Embiggen? that's another very cromulent word.
Hey sometimes I take poetic license.
I don't want to get off on a rant here, but I happen to believe that
people should know who builds their guitars.
It pisses me off to no end that some 14 year old kid goes out and buys an
expensive overpriced guitar. Just because he saw
playing it. He assumes incorrectly that the guitar he buys is going to be
just like the one his hero plays. In
some cases that might be true like Alembic's Jerry Garcia tribute guitars or
their John Entwistle bass. Most of the time however the poor hapless customer
If you want the straight story call Ed Roman Guitars.
Since I printed this page I have had to remove
about 60 items.
These items were causing contractual conflicts with
so we were asked to remove a number of them.
I was even asked to remove something because years later the company
started to actually make guitars
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