Exclusive: Bill Frisell’s Amazing New Guitar

Someone posted some pictures of the guitars Bill Frisell used during his four night residency at the Freight & Salvage in the San Francisco Bay Area. One of them looked very unusual. It was not the typical Tele, Jazzmaster, Strat, or archtop shape he usually favors. I emailed him to ask, “What is that guitar?” Bill was kind enough to answer in detail, as well as sending gorgeous pictures of this unique instrument.


Here is what he said:

“John ‘Woody’ Woodland designed it. Woody is the Mastery Bridge guy, so of course it has all Mastery stuff on it.

He used old Art Deco techniques for all the lines: bending wires between nails. I guess that’s how Martin Guitars came up with the first dreadnought shape. Woody is a Martin scholar and also a Paul Bigsby scholar. I think the neck joint on this guitar is similar to the neck joint on the first solid body that Bigsby made for Merle Travis.

The body is solid spruce. The paint is from a Chevrolet color chart, chosen to match exactly the color of the 1962 Chevrolet Biscayne my parents bought new. The car I learned to drive in.

The pickups are a one of a kind prototype design.The pickguard is art by Jim Woodring, laser engraved into anodized aluminum. It was all put together by Bilt guitars.

It sounds really dark, thick, fat, and warm, but very clear. Kind of reminds me of good old arch top. You can feel the body vibrating. I like that.

I’m loving it. It’s pretty crazy.”

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12 thoughts on “Exclusive: Bill Frisell’s Amazing New Guitar

  1. We had a Chevy Station Wagon exactly that color!

    I love that he got Woodring to do the art – those two are such a perfect pair

  2. Very interesting. Love the curved pickups. Kind of look like what the Bardens in my Tele would look like if they melted.

  3. That´s a really great looking guitar. It’s unusual for an electric guitar to be made of spruce. Is it clear from Bill’s words whether this is a solid body or a chambered one? And who makes these tuners?

    Thanks for sharing all this info!

  4. I saw Bill Frisell in Germany two weeks ago and was fascinated by this guitar. The style of the pickups and the artwork of Jim Woodring makes it really unique. What a beautiful instrument.

  5. I saw Bill Frisell just last month and he did not have this with him. What a beautiful and unique guitar. Thanks for sharing your connection with him with all of your readers.

  6. Your sound was notably different with that during the F&S show I saw. Hard to describe, but a thinner tone than past performances. Your performance was great as always, but tone not what I think of from past shows and recordings… New direction?

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