Building the Flax

Made from Spruce fibers formed in a vacuum composite, the Flax is a rather unique hollowbody electric. A new process invented in Finland, Spruce is shredded along fiber length then mixed with a resin to form the body. A colleague of mine had a connection which led to our receiving two bodies and necks. This is the first guitar built in the USA from this process, to my knowledge. How did it work out? Well it sold quickly to the first customer that played the instrument.

Vintage cloth and Orange Spragues

Vintage cloth connects CTS pots and a Superswitch. Orange Sprague capacitors.

Flaxwood guitars can be purchased from a few outlets in the USA. But this one is much like a custom shop model and bears little resemblance to the factory guitars.

I had Lindy Fralin wind the single coils. The wiring is super slick – a 5 way 4 wafer superswitch and some modifications to the single coil wiring allows for parallel, series and series out of phase configurations. The black finish is a special electrical insulating paint which I use at the controls and in the pickup cavity to reduce noise in the circuit.

The tone pots are no load which allows the player to take the tone pot (and capacitor) completely out of the circuit. Quite a bit of versatility with minimal controls.

Knurled Cocobolo Rosewood

Knurled Cocobolo Rosewood Control knobs and switch tip.

All the accents on this guitar is crafted from Cocobolo Rosewood. This includes the truss rod cover, pickup covers, knurled control knobs and oval logo inset in the back. Cocobolo is a beautiful and resinous wood, yet harmful to inhale when producing sawdust, so extra care must be taken when cutting and sanding.

Typically Morelli electrics have the M signature logo in the headstock. Given the flying eagle landing on the truss rod, I moved the logos to the control knobs. The knurled surface provides a very positive feel, and very unusual detail on electric guitars. This is more often found on the grips of high end pistol grips and rifle stocks.

White MOP Eagle Inlays

White MOP fly Eagle inlays.

As a bit of an off-take from Paul Reed Smith’s flying birds, this guitar has the American Eagle landing on the headstock truss rod and flying across the fretboard.

The inlays are individually made feather and body sections, mostly in varying pieces of white Mother of Pearl. The birds are assembled on cardstock, then glued together, finally sanding off the cardstock. It is far easier to inlay one bird rather than its twenty constituent pieces.

Given the unusual black dyed Spruce composite neck (the fretboard is not black Ebony) a few tricks were necessary to get an effective fill during the inlay process. Dust was made from the fretboard material, along with cyanoacrylate. The fretboard was then black dyed again to ensure a uniform finish. As a final detail, the fretboard side markers were finished in a special glow-in-the-dark orange dots – quite visible in dim light onstage.

Tobacco Orange Burst in Nitrocellulose Lacquer

Tobacco Orange Burst in Nitrocellulose Lacquer. Translucent edge shows swirled Spruce.

When the bodies are vacuum formed, regular and black dyed Spruce fibers are mixed, which creates a swirl pattern in the body. I wanted to keep this aspect, and decided to shoot a yellow amber base which transitioned to an orange tobacco sunburst. These colors were chosen to complement the colors in Cocobolo Rosewood.

The sunburst colors were progressively mixed from a single base to create a fluid transition from amber to tobacco orange. The edge was sprayed light enough to allow the black swirls to also show at the darkest parts of the tint. Unlike Flaxwood guitars finished in urethane, this guitar was shot in nitrocellulose lacquer.

At the beginning of construction

At the beginning of construction, body and Cocobolo Rosewood.

The final guitar was set up with Gotoh 510 wraparound bridge, Hipshot locking tuners, a Graphtech nut and Switchcraft jack. Saleh, my good friend and in-house guitar gunslinger, worked with me to dial in the setup and electronics.

A full fret level and polish was performed to ensure we could dial down the action to where it played like butter. Careful attention was placed to round the fret ends and chamfer the fretboard, ensuring the best possible left hand comfort and playability.

Can we build one for you? Absolutely. To see more picture of the finished guitar, check it out in our Portfolio Page..