Updated: Dec 15, 2019
A little over four years ago, a good friend and fellow artist, Mitch Ratliff had the idea to collaborate on a custom guitar. The idea was met with an eager and abundant amount of enthusiasm to immediately get started. Just like every other project I take on, it got placed on the dusty and high shelf of good ideas in the back of my sawdust-filled brain. A few weeks went by as the idea popped in and out of my mind. It would be the first topic of discussion and sometimes the only thing we'd chat about when Mitch and I would hang out. In all honesty, I'm not entirely sure that procrastination is a bad thing, especially in this particular case. Three years and hundreds of conversations flew by and finally the perfect opportunity presented itself. In May of 2018, I was commissioned to build two custom, acoustic guitars for world-renowned, team-roping legends, Patrick Smith and Trevor Brazile. Procrastination for Mitch and me turned into patience paying off. Before I talk about the guitars, I feel Mitch and his craftsmanship need a proper introduction. Mitch is a local metal-smith, jeweler, engraver, BBQ-master and not to mention, one hell of a plumber! I'll let his work speak for itself.
Being from Lubbock, Texas, we were both familiar with Trevor and Patrick, which made the task of personalizing each guitar somewhat painless; the only problem was time. I began sourcing materials for both guitars in early July of 2018. For Trevor's guitar, the top, back and sides were crafted of an exotic lumber native to Hawaii called koa. (Which I later learned means brave, bold, fearless or warrior.) For the neck, I selected mahogany for its strength, workability and tonal characteristics. The fretboard is made of Indian rosewood, inlaid with Trevor's "Relentless" logo in maple and wrapped with a natural walnut binding. The top, back and sides of Patrick's guitar, along with the neck are crafted of mahogany. The fretboard is Macassar ebony with a flame maple binding for contrast. I finalized Patrick's guitar with an Indian rosewood pick-guard, inlaid with his brand in maple. We had a late December deadline and were swamped with Christmas orders but Mitch somehow found the time to hand engrave a jaw dropping, sterling silver, pick-guard for Trevor's guitar.
A big Thanks to Chet Pharies for commissioning these two custom guitars and laying the ground work for this amazing opportunity. Thank you Mitch for working with me on this project. It was a truly awesome experience and I look forward to working with you again. The pick-guard is an amazing, one of a kind, work of art. If anyone is interested in more of Mitch's work please check it out here https://www.instagram.com/mitch_ratliff/