Few guitar builders and luthiers have contributed more to the modern electric guitar and Rock and Roll than Jol Dantzig, who together with Paul Hamer, co-founderd Hamer Guitars in 1974.
Since his time with Hamer, Dantzig has worked with all major guitar manufacturers including Gibson, Fender, Gretsch and Ovation. He is perhaps best known for his unique guitar designs and builds for some of Rock and Roll's most famous artists including all four of The Beatles, three of The Rolling Stones and every member of The Pretenders, Def Lepard , The Police and Cheap Trick. Today, Jol Dantzig says he enjoys what he likes doing best, building guitars by hand.
Dantzig has built only 3 guitars (Hell's Half Acre, Sakura, and The Crowe) completely by hand since 2011. Completed in 2016, Hell's Half Acre is one of them. He does research, gathers inspiration, looks for cool old stuff to build soul into the guitar etc. He takes his time and does it all by hand.
I really like his way of imbuing the build with vintage items to give it soul. He used a vintage telephone switch from Central Labs made in the early '50s. In an interview on Public Television he says, "Can you imagine all the conversations that went through this switch?" from romances to crimes, to daily conversations he says it blows his mind to think that this switch is now in one of his guitars.
In Hell's Half Acre he used cloth covered western wiring from Chicago's Hawthorne plant made in the 1930s. He used '38 bullet cartridges for the inlays on the fretboard.
Hell's Half Acre has Custom wound John Grail humbuckers, a Mahogany body (old growth Honduras), a Mahogany neck (old growth Honduras), a figured maple (bookmatched) top and back, a hand laminated Italian ivoroid binding (body neck and head), an ebony and maple checked “rope” purfling, an ebony fingerboard, a 12” fingerboard radius, and a 25.5” compensated scale neck.
Dantzig says that when he finishes a guitar, he likes to have people play it even before they move on to their new owner, as he says it adds to thei guitar's soul. Guitarists who have played Hell's Half Acre include; Tommy Shaw (Styx), Matt Beck (Matchbox 20), Robin Ford, Jim Chapdelaine (Emmy Award producer), Tom Guerra (Solo artist and Vintage Guitar journalist), Mike Eldred (Solo artist and former head of Fender custom shop), Kenny Loggins, Tommy Williams (Hooters), and Keb Mo.
Hell's Half Acre
by Jol Dantzig
Front and back of Hell's Half Acre
Cellulose tortoise shell pick guard with
vintage 1950s switchgear
The bullets that pierced this ace of diamonds were inlaid into the ebony fingerboard
Signed ebony headstock plate with
mother of pearl monogram
Italian cellulose backplate and
period gunsmith slot screws
Fully bound ebony fingerboard with
brass shell casing inlays
Back of Headstock with Date and Guitar Name
Body of Hell's Half Acre
Bookmatched figured maple