As all guitarists know.. You can’t just have one guitar? Absolutely unheard of…Today, I want to share with you a wonderful story of gear acquisition. This is the story of The Watermelon Guitar.

Anyone that knows me knows that a massive part of my life is playing the guitar, especially as a part of a band. The gym is a big part of my life as well, and both of these hobbies kind of share the same work ethics. You have to put the time in to get progress and results.. Combine my strict work ethic and my obsessive tendencies, and welcome to my sad life!

I was born in ’86, right in the golden era of shred! The guitars back then just looked like they could shred themselves! As you might guess, 80s shred machines have always been my favorite. Nothing is better than an over-the-top, in-your-face guitar. I’ve never really been attracted to modern-looking guitars with exotic, polished woods and perfected craftsmanship. It just seemed all too posh for me, like a bespoke walnut and marble coffee table that can’t be used without coasters and place mats. Do you know what I mean? The 80’s guitars just seem to have that mojo and character about them.

While looking into a new guitar one day, one of my band members told me to check out ESP guitars as he happened to buy one and adored it. I played my first one and wow, what a difference it was to go from a cheap little guitar straight up to an ESP! Obsession immediately kicked in and I eventually found myself owning around 20 ESP guitars at one point.

My favorite guitar of all time has to be the ESP M-1 Custom. It was purely designed to shred, the low action 20″ radius neck, the deep cutaway for that all-important fret access, the surface mounted tremolo, and just one bridge pickup just gives it that no nonsense statement.

Now, as much as I loved the M-1 Custom, I always wished I could have a similar guitar, but with a bit more…unique aesthetic.

I’m talking a next-level, crazy guitar with a paint job that looks like it came straight from the 80’s. I spent about a month trying to come up with something cool. I thought about fire, skulls, obnoxious bright colors, effects, pictures, graphics, but nothing I could think of was quite unique enough.

Until one fateful night….

I was on my way through the local supermarket to get supplies. In the UK (i don’t know if any other country is the same), we have to go through the fruit and vegetables section first. I was really hungry so everything looked amazing. My eyes were fixated on the watermelons as I was thinking about how juicy they might be. As my gaze locked onto the melons, I realized how much of a natural masterpiece these fruits are. The 2 different shades of green and a clean white pith that separates the green from the bright red flesh with those black seeds… Do i sound stoned? I wasn’t ok? As i marveled at nature’s fine creation it abruptly came to me..

“That would make the best paint job ever on a guitar!”

I was thinking about how it might work as I wanted the guitar to look like it was an actual watermelon. I did a Facebook search of “airbrush artist” which brought up an artist by the name of Steve Wright that lived only 15 minutes away! His Facebook page had a Kirk Hammet “Mummy” paint job on there, so I just knew this guy was legit!

(I’m also the lead guitarist for The Big 4 Tribute UK so i already had my second paint job in mind at this point.)

First impressions of Steve was a big guy covered in flames, skulls, and Metallica tattoos, and he had a 7ft painting of Iron Maiden’s “Eddie” bursting through the wall in the garage..First impressions!

The conversation went something like this:

Steve : “So what sort of thing are you looking for?”
Me : “..a watermelon guitar? To look just like a watermelon”
Steve : “…..why?”
Me : “dunno really just thought it would look ace”
Steve : “fair enough..”

That’s got to be the most memorable conversation I’ve ever had!

We worked out a quick sketch of the guitar, then I left him to it!

What I didn’t know was that the guitar we were using had been re-painted 3 times and had different pickups routed and filled in over the years so it took some quite the preparation before Steve was able to begin painting it.

Steve didn’t let me see any shots of the progress or anything, so needless to say I was pretty nervous to get the finished guitar. I remember opening the case just gasping..I was at a loss for words..I never knew that sort of skill with an airbrush was even possible!

The multiple shades of green of the rind, red flesh and seeds at the back of the neck, the tremolo cavity cut out showing the pith, flesh, and seeds just like it was carved out of an actual melon. It was perfect. My shock induced a massive lack of vocabulary when trying to express how amazing it was.

Watermelon Guitar

Watermelon Guitar

Watermelon Guitar

Watermelon Guitar

Watermelon Guitar

As you can imagine, since the pictures released by Grant Harper Photography  went viral, Steve and I have had no end of offers to buy the guitar or to paint another one.. Even from a couple of famous artists that i can’t name. It’s a unique, one-of-a-kind guitar that needs to be kept that way, unless ESP fancies putting my name on the headstock of my own signature series? Maybe one day…

I want to thank everyone who was involved in this guitar, again, these guys really brought my dream to life!

Steve Wright did all of the designing and airbrushing of the guitar.

 Mark Seddon of Oxbow guitars ordered all of the parts for it, including the unusual machine heads.

Then it was all handed over to my local guitar luthier Rich “Guitar Doctor” Stubbs for a wiring and setup.

Luckily, the guitar was finished in time to be featured on my band’s first music video!

The ESP WM-1 Custom (WaterMelon-1 Custom) will be out on the scene in 2017 with a new album from Betrayal.

Make sure to check out Betrayal on their Facebook page and their Bandcamp!

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