Last February, my surf band played the Sacramento Autorama. After we played I met a number of pinstripe artists... I thought how cool it would be to have one of them add some 1950's (or early 1960's) custom car or hot rod pinstriping to my bass or an electric guitar. Many of the artists' work was fine, but one guy seemed to have the exact designs and feel of my tastes. I asked him if he had ever pinstriped a guitar... he had not. But he liked the idea and quoted a low price. He suggested he could pinstripe my name or other design, and offered his business card.
I never got back to him, but would check out his website and found other cool stuff he had done. Now I had this retro surf guitar with flames on the pickguard, dice and skull knobs... pinstriping would be perfect.
I sent him an email though his website. A day later, it returned saying the address was closed.
I called the number on his business card: I left a voicemail on was seemed like a cellphone service. I send another email with links to a photo of the guitar, photos on his website of the styles I wanted, and details of my wants... asking for a price and when we might meet. A week passed and I received no answers.
Another person I met at the Autorama was a hotrodder and custom car builder. I sent him a Facebook private message asking about the pinstriper I was seeking and also asking if he knew any good pinstripers in the Sacramento area. He responded quickly that he was unfamiliar with the pinstriper I mentioned, but why don't I try East Bay (Livermore) pinstriping legend Herb Martinez.
I went to Herb's website. He had flames and other stuff which were exactly what I wanted. I hadn't met him with the pinstripers because he was at the SoCal booth. I sent Herb a message through his website. He responded within 12 hours, quoting me a fair (slightly higher than the first pinstriper) price for outlining the flames on the pickguard, more for additional work. I wrote back that the flames on the pickguard were outlined: I wanted flames and other details in areas on the body of the guitar... and added a photo of the body with flame areas I envisioned outlined in blue, the other pinstriping details area outlined in black.
I asked if we could do it Monday (tomorrow... as of the day I write this here in this forum). He said fine. Then I realized last Thursday was free, and before my next band rehearsal, was Thursday cool? We set up an appointment at his shop (the garage behind him home) Thursday late morning. A 90 minute drive from Sacramento.
He decided it was too cold to work in his shop, so he set up to work in his kitchen. He brought in his huge box of paints, his smaller box of brushes, and a tray table like those they serve you your meals when you are in a bed in a hospital. He placed a big towel of the tray, I placed the guitar and the strap on the tray. He added a printout of the photo of where I wanted the pinstriping on the guitar and I added a color printout of the band logo.
He used a Stabilo marker pencil to sketch his initial designs on the guitar... a place to freehand the flames and pinstriping. It is very faint, but you can sort of see his sketch here:
He mixed colors. I wanted a gray to match the gray on the strap (to tie the two together, and it went well with the colors there on the guitar), black to match the strap and the background on the pickguard, and a bluish purple to match the ends of the flames on the pickguard. The black was simple, the gray slightly harder, but it took three or four trys before he found a purplish blue to go with the flames. He started in gray:
He had late 1960's rock music on his stereo (Savoy Brown, Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green) and we swapped story while he painted. He would go quiet (so would I) when he needed to concentrate. Between car culture and San Francisco music scene, we knew some people together, and shared tales of separate encounters.