President Carter Legacy Collection Guitar - Serial #039
Numbered Serial #039 to honor the 39th President of the United States this highly customized SJ model incorporates materials designed to reflect the continuing legacy of former President Jimmy Carter.
Former US President Jimmy Carter with Todd Lunneborg in front of recently harvested Paulownia logs.
Rough sawn Paulownia boards in the milling process.
This one-of-a-kind guitar features Paulownia back and sides which was grown and harvested by former President Carter near his home in Plains, GA, and WorldTree, a purveyor of sustainably sourced Paulownia plantations and timber. Paulownia is a lightweight, yet stiff wood which grows very rapidly. Due to its fast growth it is prized as a highly sustainable species with stands regenerating and reaching maturity quickly. After the harvest, this particular wood was carefully selected and sawn to maximize the quartersawn material required for acoustic instruments. Luthier Todd Lunneborg helped ensure that the material was suitable for use, at the same time organizing fleet of luthiers to participate in this special project and distributing materials based on each builder's needs. The result is a series of 8 custom built instruments- including acoustic and electric guitar, ukuleles, and a mandolin- comprising the President Carter Legacy Collection.
In considering the overall design for my contribution to the project, I wanted to pair the Carter Paulownia with something equally unique and appropriate to the special nature of the instrument. The answer presented itself in the form of a White Spruce top salvaged from a fallen tree some 30 miles from my workshop.
Not photoshopped. Drew standing atop a "Jesus rock" within the BWCAW.
On October 21st, 1978 then-President Jimmy Carter signed into law the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act extending protection to over 1 million acres of forested land, along with its of over 1200 interconnected lakes and waterways in Northern Minnesota, for preservation as a Designated Wilderness Area. Today this designation continues to preserve and protect the unique natural ecosystem of wildlife, vegetation, and pristine waters for which it is named. The BWCA is currently the most visited Designated Wilderness Area in the US with a quarter million visitors yearly, yet thanks to the protections put in place by Mr. Carter and a “Leave No Trace” camping ethos, the native Boreal ecosystem has remained greatly unaltered from its natural state despite such a large number of visitors.
White Spruce lumber salvaged from tree downed near the edge of the BWCA on July 4, 1999.
On July 4, 1999 a massive derecho storm, known colloquially as "The Blowdown", passed over the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota- the effects of which are still evident some 20+ years later. An estimated 20-25 million trees were downed within a matter of hours. One of those trees was a White Spruce which fell just outside the border of the BWCA. It was left leaning across the parking lot of Dave Seaton at Hungry Jack Outfitters, who also happens to be a guitar builder. He was able to harvest a handful of excellent guitar tops out of the trunk of that tree, and was gracious enough to make one of his remaining sets available for use on this guitar. I can’t really imagine finding a more fitting piece of wood to use to honor the legacy of ecological conservation and stewardship of the former President in this project than from a tree which fell on the edge of the Boundary Waters on the Fourth of July.
Panoramic view from atop the Palisades on Seagull Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
Custom hand-cut Mother-of-Pearl "39" heel cap inlay.
The connection of this instrument to the former President does not stop with the tonewoods. As noted above, the timing of the construction of this instrument aligned such that it could be numbered 039 in my series of instruments. A hand-cut Mother-of-Pearl "39" is inlayed into the heel cap to highlight that connection, as well as give a nod to the 39th President of the United States.
Signed and dated interior of guitar.
It is always an exciting day in the workshop when an instrument's body is closed- that is the point in the construction process in which the top and back plates are glued onto the rim, and the instrument really begins to take shape. Before closing up my instruments, I sign and date the inside of each top. In a wonderful twist of fate, the very day I was closing the body of this guitar, October 1, 2019, I discovered that it was Mr. Carter's 95th birthday. I added an additional quote from Mr. Carter on the interior of the instrument as a sort of "hidden" detail... though you can see it in the construction process photos below. Also see below for a full detailed list of the instrument design specifications.
Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls playing the Carter Legacy Collection Guitar.
Upon the completion of the instruments included within the President Carter Legacy Collection, they were sent out to musicians to record a birthday greeting and song for Mr. Carter in honor of his 96th birthday. This guitar was sent to the Indigo Girls and was played by Amy Ray alongside Emily Saliers playing luthier Jason Kostal's contribution to the project in a beautiful rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine". The video of that performance can be found for a limited time here on WorldTree's website.
In Progress Photo Gallery:
Full Instrument Specs:
Body Style: SJ
Top: Salvaged "Fourth of July" White Spruce
Back & Sides: Jimmy Carter Paulownia
Rosette: Radial Macassar Ebony 3-Ring rosette with Paua shell Accent