Thursday, 9 February 2012

Erlewine Lazer headless travel guitar and a ghost mystery
We previously looked at an Erlewine Lazer last year here on Guitarz but that was a heavily modified example. The Erlewine Lazer we are looking at today is a much finer example, being in superb condition; it also has two pickups, a singlecoil in the neck position and DiMarzio humbucker at the bridge.

These guitars, as favoured by Johnny Winter, are - despite their diminutive size - full-scale length guitars, and are built by luthier Mark Erlewine, the man responsible for bringing us the original Chiquita guitar as used by Michael J Fox in the now legendary Back To The Future opening sequence.

What is unusual about this particular Lazer, however, is the "Ghost" legend applied beneath the "Erlewine Lazer" decal on the body. To quote from the eBay listing:
An interested eBayer asked. "(W)hy does it say "ghost" under the Lazer label? I have never seen that on a Lazer." Indeed, none of the photographs of Lazers I have found have this moniker. A close examination indicates the "ghost" in lower case black lettering is below the clear nitrocellulose lacquer as if it was original to the guitar, so I telephoned Mark Erlewine at his Austin Texas office to inquire. Mr. Erlewine does not recall having ever made a special Lazer with the word "ghost” added, and he does not have records that would indicate a special order to add the word “ghost” to one of his custom made guitars.

A conversation with the widow of the original owner revealed that the owner was fascinated with ghost iconography; especially flaming skulls. This was a theme he carried into many of his artistic endeavors. She does not have information about specifics, but it seems reasonable that the original owner would have named his guitar the ghost and added the name. If so, the addition was professionally done by someone who understands how to work nitrocellulose lacquer.

If the new buyer wanted to remove the name, nitrocellulose lacquer is malleable enough that a craftsman would be able to remove the “ghost” within the multiple layers of clear lacquer, which brings up another point.

Erlewine stated that he would perform a full setup of the Lazer for less than $200, including strings of choice. I personally cannot think of anyone better to set the Lazer for the new owner’s playing preference than the skillful luthier who designed and built it in the first place. The new owner may want to ask Mr. Erlewine what he would charge to remove the “ghost” and re-lacquer the guitar, however I personally believe that this historical evidence of the guitar’s journey should remain. In other words, one should probably not mess too much with the “ghost”.
I agree with the eBay seller that the "ghost" should be allowed to stay. It's part of the guitar's history, and it isn't as if it's an unsightly blemish.

This guitar is currently listed on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $2,500 - the auction ends later today.

G L Wilson

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