Prisma Accardo: A Boutique Beauty Built from Hard Rock Maple Skate Decks

It features 30 quartersawn decks in a stunning bookmatched pattern.
By cscapelliti,

This is a feature from the March/April 2017 issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine. For this complete story and more photos, plus features on the making of Martin’s one-of-a-kind two-millionth guitar, Ricky Gervais and the return of his guitar-playing alter ego David Brent, plus GA’s annual motoring section, including features on the Doobie Brothers’ Pat Simmons and his antique Harley-Davidsons, John Oates and his life-long fascination with cars and racing, and the untold story behind Led Zeppelin's McLaren M8E/D racecar, pick up the new issue of Guitar Aficionado at your newsstand, or online by clicking here.

Boutique Beauty: The Prisma Accardo Is Built from Reclaimed Skateboard Decks

By Richard Bienstock | Photography by Massimo Gammacurta

As a teenager growing up in Southern California in the early 2000s, Nick Pourfard was consumed with skateboarding and playing guitar. But a skateboard accident in 2010 changed the course of his life. “I had built this makeshift skate spot near my parents’ house, in San Diego—a total DIY thing,” Pourfard, now 25, recalls. “I poured a bunch of concrete, and the next day as I was skating I tore a tendon in my ankle. I couldn’t walk for months, and I definitely couldn’t skate.” Having had some experience in woodworking, Pourfard turned to constructing furniture in a small 10x10 shed behind his parents’ house. Eventually, he decided to build a guitar.

“At first I was going to build it out of walnut,” he recalls, “but I was so unenthused. I thought, Why would I make something that I could just buy in a store, that already exists?” Instead, he decided to build an instrument that, in his mind, did not exist: a Tele-style electric guitar with a top constructed from the wood of used skateboard decks. “I didn’t even know if it would work,” Pourfard says. “But I went for it. And the thing about skate decks is that most people think they’re just made of plywood. But 99.9 percent of the time they’re actually hard rock maple. As soon as I got the body cut out, I was like, This is it!”

Pourfard continued experimenting with using skateboard decks in instrument builds and eventually launched his own company, Prisma Guitars, which he currently runs out of the garage of his home in San Francisco. He is assisted by two guitar techs and a woodworker, though he estimates that he does as much as 80 percent of the construction of every instrument himself, from routing to sanding to binding. Since starting operations in 2014, Pourfard has produced upward of 100 instruments, each incorporating varying degrees of wood from old skate decks—anywhere from four to, in one case, 50—in their construction. He currently offers eight different Prisma models, including his “favorite design,” the Accardo, an example of which is shown here. The guitar’s hard rock maple top is constructed from a combination of 30 quartersawn Skate Mental decks (“the company’s calling card is boards that are mostly blue and orange,” Pourfard says, explaining the Accardo’s color scheme), which are glued and compressed together using a “giant custom press” and then bookmatched to create a stunning pattern.

As for how the pattern emerges, “It’s just from working the material,” Pourfard says. “If you cut a skateboard in half, you’ll see seven plies of wood, and the dye runs all the way through. And for our guitars that don’t use quartersawn decks, we have a special jig that creates color swirls. Each guitar comes out a little bit different.”

Other woods employed in the Accardo are alder for the back and flame maple for the bolt-on neck. The rosewood fingerboard sports mother-of-pearl dot inlays, but, Pourfard says, “we occasionally put little skateboard dots of the same striped pattern in the inlays, too.” The Prisma triangle logo on the maple headstock is inlaid with that same skateboard stripe pattern as well and is set against a custom blue finish (also seen on the alder back) designed to match the blue lines in the guitar’s top. Hardware and features include two McNelly P-90-style pickups; single volume and tone knobs and a three-way selector switch; Gotoh vintage-style staggered tuners; a hand-shaped Graph Tech nut; Emerson Custom electronics; a nitrocellulose finish; and a Mastery vibrato bridge. Further optional offerings include pickup covers and volume and tone knobs that can be fitted with skateboard inlays, as well as a neck constructed entirely from skate decks. “We’ll do whatever the customer wants as far as hardware and different design touches,” Pourfard says.

Additionally, Pourfard will often employ wood from decks supplied by the customer when constructing a custom instrument. “It adds a real personal touch to the guitar,” he says. He also recently built a custom bass for Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris, with a skateboard top of “claret and blue” as an homage to the colors of Harris’s favorite football club, West Ham United.

Despite the inherent novelty of a guitar built from skateboards, Pourfard is adamant that “there is no gimmick here. I want to make sure I’m making the best guitars possible, with no sacrifices in tone or playability. That comes before everything else. When someone plays a Prisma, I want to hear what they think about it before I even tell them it’s made from skateboards. And when I do tell them, they almost don’t believe me.”

As for what became of the skateboard Pourfard was riding when he injured his ankle on that fateful day in 2010, essentially setting him on his current path as a builder? “That’s a good question,” he says with a laugh. “I’m assuming it ended up in one of my instruments, because I never throw away any decks. So either it’s in one of my guitars or a guitar that someone else purchased from me. Either way, I can say that I’m almost 100 percent positive someone’s playing it today.”

LIST PRICE: $3,500, with MONO gig bag
Prisma Guitars, prismaguitars.com

This is a feature from the March/April 2017 issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine. For this complete story and more photos, plus features on the making of Martin’s one-of-a-kind two-millionth guitar, Ricky Gervais and the return of his guitar-playing alter ego David Brent, plus GA’s annual motoring section, including features on the Doobie Brothers’ Pat Simmons and his antique Harley-Davidsons, John Oates and his life-long fascination with cars and racing, and the untold story behind Led Zeppelin's McLaren M8E/D racecar, pick up the new issue of Guitar Aficionado at your newsstand, or online by clicking here.

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