Wesman Todd Shaw started playing the guitar when he was 12 years old. He loves nothing more than to pick one up and pluck some strings.
For the majority of my life I've been one of the biggest fans of guitar one could ever meet. I don't just mean the guitar players or music, I mean also of the guitars themselves. I am a guitar player, but not a great one.
Guitars, to me, are works of art. I prefer a fine guitar to any painting, every sculpture, and to quite a lot of the novels I've read too. I'm talking about fine guitars. The kinds of instruments which the most absolute care was used in every detail of creation. Such guitars are works of art in and of themselves, and they can be used to create musical works of art.
I bring this up because I'm an absolute and total fan of guitars, guitar music, and guitar players. In this case I'm a fan of the guitar, meaning the instrument, and also in this case, I've never once either seen or laid hands on the actual guitar in question. It's still quite precious to me. Perhaps upon a time I will get to see one of these.
Besides being a huge fan of the guitar, guitar players, and guitar music, and also being a bit of a guitarist myself, I am in every way a Texan. I was born in Dallas, Texas. I've lived the biggest majority of my life in nearby rural Texas, and when I die, I surely do hope that I die and am buried in Texas. I'm in love with the American southwest, always have been, and forever will be.
Dia De Los Muertos
As a Texas, Dia De Los Muertos always also intrigued me. We're all pretty immersed in Mexican things in the Lone Star State. Translated to English, Dia De Los Muertos is simply the Day of the Dead. This is not a Hispanic holiday. This is specifically a Mexican holiday.
This Mexican holiday is primarily bound to, and held in the central and southern regions of Mexico. It's really a rather beautiful thing. It is nothing like Halloween, as it involves friends and family getting together, and praying for their lost loved ones, and their spiritual journey beyond this world. There's no sadness in all of this, it is, in fact, a celebration.
Day of the Dead Folk Art
So as the belief goes, from noon on October the thirty first, all the way through to November the second, the spirits of the dead return to us for a visit. There are prayers, rituals, celebrations, and there is art. Incense is burned, marigolds and candles are everywhere.
Calacas or skeletons, ofrenada or temporary alters, these are the central themes to the artwork. The marigold flower, you can think of this as the flower of the dead, as this is very literally how the Aztec thought of it.
I can't promise you any spirits will come visit you for owning a Fender Dia De Los Muertos guitar, but I can promise you the artwork on the guitar is extremely authentic in its appearance. The guitar could well serve as a bit of an alter, in a way, for any lost musical loved ones, and it could do it every last day of the year. I'd not let candles get so close though, this guitar is a very fine thing.
Fender Dia De Los Muertos Acoustic Guitar, Masterbuilt, Rare, and Expensive
To be sure, Fender is simply not known for acoustic guitars. Of course Fender makes acoustics, but these are not the products which keeps the bills paid. Fender is forever known for its fine electric guitars, but they do make Custom instruments like this one, and when you see the price tag, you know they're atypical guitars.
The original of these Dia De Los Muertos guitars was designed for Joe Wood. I believe Joe Wood's original had a Stratocaster style headshok on it. In 2013 Fender created a batch of these, with a much more traditional head-stock style, but I've been unable to find out how many were produced. I can tell you I've been unable to locate even a solitary YouTube video of these guitars, and so I can only presume they were produced in very low numbers, and so, are extremely rare.
This is a Fender Custom Shop guitar, and terms like Masterbuilt are being bandied about. I know in 2013 when these guitars were new, they were selling for around five and a half thousand dollars. One must assume the absolute best Fender has built them, and the custom paint job representing traditional Mexican folk art, is on both front and back of the guitar. On the used market today, these Day of the Dead Masterbuilt dreadnoughts are not selling for less than they were new.
Interesting Design Features - Length of Scale and Engelmann Spruce
One of the most interesting design features of this guitar is its scale length of 25 and 5/8ths inches. This is a longer scale length than Fender uses on its famous Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars, and it's a longer length of scale than Gibson uses for either its electric or acoustic guitars. One would only expect the clearest, sharpest, most pronounced bell like tones from this instrument.
In the world of biology, the botanical name for Engelmann spruce is Picea engelmannii. It's a less expensive alternative to European spruce, but is softer, often has a very ivory sort of sheen to it, and sometimes pink streaking. Coloring isn't so important when you're going to finish the top in Mexican folk art, so what are the tonal qualities of Engelmann spruce?
Engelmann is a strong wood but not as dense or hard as Sitka spruce. It therefore produces a more modulated sound, somewhat quieter, and the tops are easier to break in. While it's not quite as all the way to where it would sound and behave like cedar, it is closer to cedar than other breeds of spruce. So this soundboard would likely favor a person who does a lot of fingerstyle playing, and generally uses a light touch.
Fingerstylist who likes to run meaty medium gauge strings on your acoustic? The longer scale length and the Engelmann spruce make this perfect for you, and most specifically, your oddball slack stringed alternate tunings. Myself, I'd bet a nice drop D would be splendid here.
This particular species of spruce top matched with a guitar where the length of scale is longer than is typical alone make this particular and already intriguing guitar, something I personally just would do about anything to get to play, and for the best assessment, also have something more normal, like a good Martin on hand, for as to compare and contrast with.
Fender Dia De Los Muertos Guitar - Final Thoughts
Because I'm a nearly lifelong fan of guitars, guitar players, and guitar music, and this is a rather rare and fine offering, I'm extremely intrigued by this guitar. I've never seen one, but I can sure hope to someday get the chance.
I'm a Texan. I've been to several different places in Mexico, having visited Mexico several different times over the years. This guitar screams affinity for the US Southwest like Willie Nelson eating tamales. This is another reason I've continually thought about this guitar since 2013, when it was produced.
The original and very traditional looking Dia De Los Muertos artwork, front and back, and even on the headstock of this guitar makes it a serious looker, no matter who you are; but the design specifications are also very interesting. I'd love nothing more than to get ahold of one, and run through something white boy traditional, like myself, and a bit dark sided. Maybe Bury Me Beneath The Willow, or Will The Circle Be Unbroken. I'd not want to deviate from the spirit of the guitar. I'll list the other specifications I was able to find out below. Thanks for reading.
Fender Dia De Los Muertos Guitar Specifications:
- All solid wood construction featuring select mahogany back and sides, and a solid Engelmann spruce soundboard
- Forward shifted pre-war Martin style X bracing
- Twenty frets, fourteen frets clear of the body
- Bone nut, saddle, and bridge pins provide ultimate tonal clarity
- 1.7" nut width at the saddle
- Pearloid block inlay fingerboard positioning markers
- Rosewood fingerboard and bridge
- Standard dual action truss rod
- Fishman Matrix Infinity pickup for acoustic/electric play
- Gold plated Grover tuning machines
- Deluxe leather strap and hard-shell case
© 2019 Wesman Todd Shaw
Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on August 09, 2019:
Thanks very much, Betty!!!! No, I've no videos of me playing online. I had one on Facebook years ago but I've been removed from that website.
....and it wasn't especially a good video anyway, but uploading something I can be somewhat proud of, or at least satisfied with, to Youtube is definitely on my major list of things I want to get done.
It's interesting to me the dates around October 31 and November 1st are celebrated around the world by vastly different cultures, and in different ways.
I think I'm going to have to find out more about that, I'd imagine it has something to do with solar cycles.
Betty A F from Florida on August 09, 2019:
Hi Wesmen Todd Shaw,
You have some very lovely guitars! The artwork on this one was very interesting. The jumbo guitar was really neat too.
I wish I could play the guitar, in the video of the Jumbo guitar, the person playing made it look so effortless. Was that you? I actually own two guitars, one base and one electric. I got them with the intention of learning but I haven't pursued it... You motivated me to get some new guitar strings, have them both tuned properly and take some lessons.
I also enjoyed the story about "Dia De Los Muertos." It sounds more interesting than Halloween, and it definitely holds more meaning.
I enjoyed reading this very much.
I hope you have a wonderful weekend!