It's obvious I've got a deep affinity for black walnut, its acoustic properties, its workability, its variation, its visual drama. And make no mistake, this is one dramatic piece of walnut, as the photos can attest. While ornamental carving and figurative sculpture are often important features in my instruments, there are times when the wood has a lot to say for itself with little need of embellishment.

When I was first introduced to this particular piece of lumber, it spoke volumes to me. It was a much longer board then and the sapwood swirled in a variety of patterns across much of the board. This was the same stock that presented us with the beautiful top for the Satyrn guitar. I spent what added up to many hours just studying that board and how best to utilize it for the sake of conservation, stability, and visual impact, arranging templates of my designs in every imaginable way. The top for this guitar is the one I saved for last, the one I gave the most thought to.


The body is semi-hollow, constructed of a bookmatched walnut back and a one-piece walnut top with a layer of black veneer between. Both the top and the back were hollowed before being laminated together, leaving a block running down the center of the instrument. The inside cavities follow the outside contours very closely, with the top and back being just a bit over 1/4" thick. The Argos is a very light and responsive guitar, weighing only 7 lbs, 3 oz.


One of the most distinguishing features of this gorgeous guitar is the pair of wood-matching pickup covers. The top veneers on the covers are made from the very cut-outs of the pickup cavities for exact matching of the top. These veneers are only 1/16" thick, so they don't impede the magnetic signal of the pickups in any way.



The walnut back and neck were chosen for straight, tight grain, lending stability to the swirling grain patterns of the top. The neck is aged and air-dried with the body itself also chosen to match both the color and grain pattern of the neck. The heel carve is typical of my instruments, affording a completely unimpeded grasp of the neck at the highest registers. Also, as on most of my instruments, the body is contoured for comfort.

photo by Timeless Images

The layer of black-dyed maple veneer between the top and the back is somewhat evident in the photograph above. The control cover was carefully cut from the back wood so as to be an exact grain match.


The headstock for the Argos is one of my favorite designs with an ebony faceplate, offset badge and trussrod cover, both hand-carved in ebony. The tuning machines are Gotoh 510s, which have nice contours that compliment the contours of my instruments.



I prefer to treat the end of the fretboard with a more eye-catching look than a simple square end. On the Argos, I've also blended the neck into the body all the way around the neck joint, so that there are no square edges or corners, front or back.

photo by Timeless Images



The pickups for the Argos are Searcy String Works custom-made P90s, tapped for an excellent range of electric tonal options. Clint Searcy makes most of my pickups for me, as well as designs the circuits I use. This circuit incorporates a push-pull pot for the tuner that controls the pickup tap. Pushed in, the pickups both have a vintage P90 sound with a resistance in the realm of 8K ohms. Pulled, they jump into afterburner mode with a resitance of 13K ohms. This is a superb electronic feature, rendering an already versatile pickup even more versatile.

The knobs are custom lathe-turned walnut, with inlaid Mother of Pearl dots and a collar inset into the top to cover the gap that arises when the push-pull pot is activated.

photo by Timeless Images

This is a good view of the neck "heel" and the inlaid ebony finials that elegantly cap off the ends of the black-dyed maple veneer where it meets the neck joint.


I knew this guitar would be something special while I was building it, but when I laid down that first application of Danish oil over the bare wood, it was an incredible sensation to watch an already striking piece of walnut came completely alive.


From the owner of this instrument:


When I opened the guitar case, I was completely blown away by the stunning good looks of my new Argos. Pictures do not do it justice. When I took it out, my sense of touch immediately flooded my brain with a sensation of smoothness rarely experienced. The finish is unreal. And itís like there are no edges. The top and back simply melt into perfect curves of walnut as it takes on the shape of a guitar. Incredibly light with a neck like butter and a heel carve that blends into the back as if it grew there. Make no mistake about it, this is a player with wondrous tones from jazz to blues to rock at my disposal.

I was greatly impressed during the build process by the level of communication you provided and your intense desire to understand and deliver on my preferences. Your ability to convert into reality my vague descriptions about neck carve, fret wire, switch placement, knobs, pickup covers, color variation and the like are unsurpassed. I have purchased from and worked with a large number of luthiers considered to be the best of the best over the years but your customer service is superior to any I have ever experienced. Thanks so much for my new #1 axe and save me a place in line for another of your masterpieces.

Art S.


Body: semi-hollow - walnut back, one-piece walnut top, black-dyed maple veneer between top and back

Neck: set, walnut w/carbon fiber reinforcement, dual-action trussrod

Fretboard: ebony

Fretmarkers: Mother of Pearl dots, standard centered layout

Sidemarkers: Mother of Pearl dots

Neck profile: standard C-carve, .80" thick @ first fret, .90" thick @ twelfth fret

Scale: 24.625"

Frets: 24, 22 of which are easily accessible

Faceplate: ebony

Pickups: Searcy String Works P90 pickups, tapped

Switching: volume, tone/push-pull tap, 3-way pickup selector

Pots: volume 250K, tone 250K push-pull

Bridge: inset Tune-o-matic

Tuners: black Gotoh 510 3x3

Finish: Danish Oil

Weight: 7 lbs 3 oz

As Seen in Premier  Guitar Magazine

I built this guitar as a commission, but if you would like to discuss a similar instrument, I would be more than happy to talk with you about building you your own unique guitar.
Please contact me via email or my dealer, Cliff Cultreri at Destroy All Guitars


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