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Zen & the art of guitar making with Clowns

For two years we’ve been hassling Clowns for new tuneage since hooking their latest record Nature/Nurture straight to our veins, we’ve been experiencing some pretty hectic withdrawals. So, imagine our sheer euphoria when out of nowhere, the band hit us with the addictive, unfiltered dose of punk with ‘Does It Matter?’, released through their own imprint, Damaged.

Add a run of Australian tour dates, plus the promise of more tunes to come, and all of a sudden we’re awash with Clowns. Only now are we learning the full extent of just how busy they’ve been during this two-year gap, slowly but surely planning their Normandy, the day on which their planes will fill the sky. And making a freaking guitar.

Of course, there’s plenty of time to catch up on their plans of world domination through song, but here at Blunt Mag we simply couldn’t let go of guitarist Cam Rust’s custom build. Luckily, Cam was good enough to walk us through the process.

“The build process was a roller coaster of feelings and emotions.” Cam explains to Blunt Magazine. “Being a carpenter, I already have a huge love for woodworking, so I assumed it would have been a comfortable challenge to a degree. I soon discovered that I was pretty wrong. From wrestling with the binding to shaving the timber for the neck joint by an 8th of a millimetre to get the neck angle right, it truly was a shawshank redemption.

I was lucky enough to have my partner building her own guitar with me, so we were there to balance each other out if we could see each other getting frustrated.Nothing can compare to the feeling of strumming that first chord on something you’ve worked so tirelessly on, and all the frustration and stress was just gone….”

I started playing the guitar when I was 14 and have wanted to build one of my own since. I remember covering my first guitar in yellow electrical tape like EVH’s Bumblebee. After that, I worked on other guitars by stripping them back, filling in pickup cavities with builder’s bog and occasionally putting on a fresh coat of paint. I’ve always loved modifying guitars to be how I want them to be, and all of that has led me here.

My first build was with the guidance of David from DJS Guitars in Croydon. The body is based on a Gibson E2 mixed with an Explorer Custom with a few alterations, mainly on the neck profile and Floyd Rose.

I started off with a scale plan and then selected the timber. After cutting back the body and neck and installing the truss rod, I chose the fretboard timber and hand sawed the slots for the frets, then finished it off with the fret wire. Next, I did a fair bit of routing for the pickups and Floyd Rose. Because the Explorer has a set neck, there was a lot of rooting around getting the angle right. After everything was sanded down to the exact measurements, I got into binding the body, neck and headstock. Got it painted and finished with the hardware and wiring.

I ended up with a mahogany body and Gibson 1958 neck profile with an ebony fretboard and headstock veneer. I went for medium jumbo frets, Gotoh tuners, and a Floyd Rose tremolo. I always use 10-52 gauge strings and opted for Fishman Fluence Classic pickups because they are versatile and well suited to Clowns. Binding for the body, neck and headstock. Tobacco burst on the front and a natural satin on the back and neck.

The first show I played the Explorer was my very first gig with Clowns at 170 Russell. The guitar felt great to play, but there are definitely things I want to adjust, such as recessing the bridge into the body, and I wouldn’t mind shaving the neck down a bit. Nevertheless, it was terrific to play something I built at such a momentous return to live music after so many months of COVID lockdown.

Clowns Australian Tour Dates

Sunday 20th June
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July 30 – August 2nd
Blacken Open Air, Hale, NT
 Tickets: Blacken Open Air