the Fatback Special


Welcome to my three year in the making, Fatback Special tele-thing, aka. the spaulted maple money pit.:p

Warmouth wood: spaulted maple over swamp-ash body. Fatback, compound radius, birdseye maple neck, 6105 frets. T-burst finish on body. J. Monterose installed his neck kit. G. Brawer sprayed nitro and rounded the edges on the neck.

Keepin' an eye, (or 100) on things...

1-ply phenolic pickguard. Vintique hardware. Harmonic Design Super-90 and Z-90's. 5-way strat switching. wax tone cap. Reversed controls for easy pinky swells.

This guitar started as an innocent project tele. Now it's a full-on mutant. It has been worked on over the last three years by Jay Monterose, Gary Brawer & Co., and Geoff at SF Guitarworks, ( It has had three completely different sets of electronics in it over the years. It now plays and sounds great. The neck kit gives the guitar some freakish sustain and pushes the fundamental harmonics. The guitar weighs in at about 8 lbs, so it's no fly-weight, but it balances very well. The HD pickups work great in this guitar. I think Geoff summed it up perfectly when he called to tell me it was ready and described the sound as a strat with an extra nad! :D I've only had a chance to play it for an hour or so at home at low volumes, but the combination of fatness and clarity it stunning. The 2 and 4 positions will be getting a lot of play. Harmonic Design makes some amazing p.u.'s. I can't wait 'til I get to my studio tommarrow and hear it through my Invader 30.

so what's a fatback?...;)

It's my first parts guitar and now, three years gone, it's finally done, end game, nada, no more! ...for now :eek: ...and I'm loving it! :dude


Senior Member
That's beautiful - really tasteful!

I'd like to hear your assessment of how the Super-90 and Z-90s work together. Did you opt for switching that included the bridge and neck together? That is a VERY sweet combo on my Z-90 Tele...


Here are a few progress pics of how the tele got to it's current state.

Phase 1:
Straight from Jay Monterose. He rewound a Fender customshop no-caster bridge pickup to Gatton-like tone. He rewound a Duncan strat pu pretty hot to match for the neck. (Yikes, old pics can be scary. Besides the tele, I only have the Grosh bass and the Lowden acoustic with me now.)

Phase 2:
This was after Gary Brawer reworked the neck and added Lollars. They were cool, and looked pretty bitchin', but weren't quite the tone I was looking for.

and finally...endgame!

ahhh, made it.:)

Dave Orban

Platinum Supporting Member
Cool! :dude

BTW, how did the Charlie Christian pickup sound?

(I also reverse the control plate on my Tele...)


The Lollar Charlie Christian was a very cool pickup. Great smoky round cleans with a bit of a mid range bump. It could take some mild tube amp od, but really wasn't meant to be gained up. I had a Lollar special in the bridge. Both were nice pickups, but I found that they were too extremely opposed for me, with the dark neck and and a big brite bridge. The middle position had a nice acoustic body to it though.

The HD's I have in there now seem like a better balance for my playiing. They can be gained up to extremes and keep their tone and clarity and they sound very warm and balanced clean. These are my first Harmonic Designs and I'm now a believer. Great product. Splatt's raves have me jonzing to try their ZP-90's next.

Erskin, I was thinking of throwing in a push-pull tone pot to add the neck when in the bridge, but I couldn't find a push-pull that kept the right taper for the tone cap.


Gold Supporting Member
Love the spalted maple. It makes for an interesting finished product. It also should help in the weight department because of the decrease in density of the maple from the fungus that spalts the wood.

Congrats on a beautiful guitar, good luck with it and play it in good health.