Echopark Detroit Gold Rose - GuitarPlayer.com

Echopark Detroit Gold Rose

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Over the past several years, Gabriel Currie’s Echopark guitars featured on stage in the hands of many top-line players, including Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Josh Homme, Jackson Browne, Jakob Dylan and Social Distortion’s Jonny “Two Bags” Wickersham. Although he only established Echopark in 2012, Currie’s credentials extend back decades, beginning with a stint in the 1980s at G&L in Fullerton, California, under the auspices of Leo Fender.

Gabriel Currie silk-screens the Victorian-era rose pattern on a Gold Rose guitar body

Gabriel Currie silk-screens the Victorian-era rose pattern on a Gold Rose guitar body

Currie’s reverence for Fender, the man (as well as the company) is reflected in the instrument shown here the new Echopark Detroit Gold Rose. The guitar sports the body shape of a long-running Echopark model dubbed “the Clarence”—in tribute to his old boss and mentor, Clarence Leonidas Fender — and is, in effect, a wider, longer take on a Telecaster. The rose pattern on its front serves as a nod both to Currie’s daughter, whose middle name is Rose, and an old, short-lived Fender design: the 1968 Paisley Telecaster. “I remember seeing Elvis Presley’s guitar player James Burton sporting one of those Teles and thinking, Wow, that’s awesome!” Currie says. “I really loved how intricate and delicate the design looked, but the way Fender did it back then was they used actual wallpaper and just glued it to the top of the guitar. I owned a ’68 for a bit, and if you’ve ever played one of those Teles, they’re kind of dense and plunky, and not very resonant. They weren’t very good instruments, so I wanted to capture the essence of the design but do it right this time.”

Currie has been building instruments sporting the rose pattern for years. The first example, a 2012 semihollow Clarence, went to Joe Perry. The Gold Rose came about more recently when he was commissioned to build a run of guitars for a Saks Fifth Avenue fashion show and charity event, in conjunction with Detroit Music Weekend, in the Michigan city where Echopark now resides. “All the guitars sold immediately,” he says, “but I held onto the Gold Rose.”

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The guitar features a body of super-light-weight old-stock swamp ash, upon which Currie applies the rose design — a Victorian textile pattern — using a silk-screening process. The base color goes down first, and once that layer is dry to the touch, he screens the rose print on top of it. “Then I do another burst to tie in the pattern with the sides of the guitar,” Currie says. “That’s what give the roses that ‘appears to disappear’ kind of look.” The intent, he says, “is to have the design not be just something aesthetic. I want it to be part of the instrument and really give it character.”

On the Gold Rose, that character is rounded out by a number of high-end woods and appointments. A neck of old-stock figured big-leaf maple and a fretboard of milled old-stock Brazilian rosewood complement the swamp ash body. Hardware includes a five-ply tortoiseshell pickguard, a milled stainless-steel neck plate, a raw steel hardtail 1/2 bridge plate with intonating saddles, and Gotoh Ivoroid button tuners. Additionally, the guitar sports a pair of custom pickups: a ’57 Goldie PAF clone in the neck and, in the bridge, a Gold Coil humbucker designed by Currie in conjunction with Rob Timmons of Arcane Pickups. The Gold Coil, Currie says, “is sort of like a Super’Tron meets a vintage PAF. It’s hollow and chime-y but with a really tight, focused midrange and great crispiness. I use it in a lot of the guitars I’ve made for Joe Perry and Josh Homme.”

Newly finished guitar bodies dry at the Echopark shop

Newly finished guitar bodies dry at the Echopark shop

The pickups are controlled by a Switchcraft three-way toggle and single Bakelite volume and tone knobs from the instrument panel of an aircraft carrier. “You can see that they go to 24,” Currie adds with a laugh. “I have a little stash of those knobs, and I use them from time to time when I feel the instrument is unique enough to deserve them.”

The Gold Rose is clearly one such instrument. Like all Echopark guitars, it was hand-built by Currie and his small team in Detroit, with no CNC machines in sight. “Everything’s old-school,” Currie says. “Honestly, that’s the only way I know how to do it. I couldn’t wrap my head around CNC stuff if I tried. I’m a pretty hands-on kind of guy. Plus, we do smaller runs, which gives me more control over overall quality and also greater freedom to create — because you want each guitar to be special.”

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To that end, the Gold Rose — and all the rose guitars — holds a particularly special place in Currie’s heart. “The initial idea sprung from my attraction to the Paisley Tele, but then it turned into a way to honor both my daughter and Leo. So it feels very full circle to me,” he says. “At the same time, it’s a static pattern, but it will never get boring. It’s always evolving and changing. A customer can personalize it, but it still maintains its identity, and it evokes a certain emotion when you look at it. It’s really satisfying to be able to build guitars like that.”

THE GUITAR

> Echopark Detroit Gold Rose $6,800 (direct); All guitars are custom-made and include lifetime warranty to the original owner. echoparkguitars.com

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