Joseph Arthur on Making Guitars “Sacred”

April 16, 2012

I’m sure you noticed our stunning cover guitar this month. It’s a Godin 5th Avenue CW Kingpin II custom painted by singer-songwriter and artist Joseph Arthur. The first American musician signed to Peter Gabriel’s Real World label in 1996, Arthur tours and paints constantly, was nominated for a Grammy in 1999 for Best Recording Packaging, and launched his own imprint, Lonely Astronaut Records, in 2006. Though he has painted guitars since childhood, the Godin relationship started in mysterious ways.

“My manager is from Canada,” explains Arthur, “and he drove to Brooklyn one day to drop off five or six raw bodies and necks, saying, ‘Godin wants you to paint these.’”

Arthur procrastinated for six months, and then, in a fit of guilt, painted all the guitars in a few days.

“Pretty soon,” he says, “there was another pile of raw bodies and necks in my room to paint.”

The one-of-a-kind, hand-painted Kingpins will be offered as extremely limited edition models by Godin ( Influenced by artists Cy Twombly, Basquiat, de Kooning, and Jackson Pollack, Arthur encourages all players to “desecrate” their instruments.

“Painting these guitars appeals to my irreverent side,” he says, “but, at the same time, it’s a way of making the object sacred. It’s a paradox. Like all the best things, it desecrates and makes sacred at the same time. And there is risk involved, which is appealing.”

Arthur recently released the double-album, Redemption City, and is offering it as a free download at

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