ONE-EYED DOLL GUITARIST KIMBERLY FREEMAN rocks intense, anime-in-the-flesh imagery, but considering she went to China all by herself on a philanthropic teaching mission and ended up getting branded a terrorist by the Communist regime, it seems appropriate her visage embraces the sweetly grotesque. Although it was the school’s directors who allegedly traded in black-market terror goods, the Austin, Texas, native was still compelled to sign a confession by Chinese authorities, which scared her into running away to the countryside and hiding out for more than a year before sneaking back home undetected during China’s SARS epidemic.
“I started singing old honky-tonk songs—Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline—to the students as a reward for their hard work,” she says. “So when I returned to the States, I told my grandfather I wanted to be a professional musician just like him. After what I went through in China, I wasn’t scared of anything anymore. A music career seemed easy.”
Her signature-guitar deal certainly seemed easy enough. A Tregan Guitars artist emailed Freeman for permission to wear a One-Eyed Doll t-shirt in an ad, and also recommended her to company president Tony Guarriello.
“So I open Guitar Player, and there’s the ad,” she says. “That was cool, but I wasn’t interested in designing a guitar with them, because most companies have nothing I’d want more than the pawnshop guitars I mod myself.”
But Guarriello took a chance, and offered to build Freeman a guitar to her specs at absolutely no obligation to her.
“I drew up some ideas based upon the Tregan Syren, and Tony sent me the guitar, asking for nothing in return,” relates Freeman. “He never tried to trick me or cheat me. He just made me a perfect guitar.”
Freeman asked Guarriello for a matte-black finish that wouldn’t clash with her stage clothes, and she wanted the tone kept heavy and simple with one Volume control and one bridgeposition Seymour Duncan Invader pickup. The neck-pickup cavity was utilized as a “goodies coffin” for storing “lyrics, bugs, jewelry, and random presents.” As Freeman’s exuberant stage antics often cause her to “break guitars in fits of glee,” she requested a light, yet road-rugged construction with a contoured body, and two outputs (in case she pulls a cable loose while jumping off drum risers). Production models are slated to include Freeman’s signature, a kiss, and a glow-in-the-dark guitar- pick necklace.
“This is a working musician’s guitar,” she says. “It’s designed to be scratched up, dented, duct taped, bled on, and loved to pieces.”