Back in 2007 after recently being enrolled at the University of Hawaii I set out on a fantastic journey. It all began with Weezer. Member of WeezerJONAS since back in 8th grade, I'd been in contact with our very own Karl Koch time and time again, mostly with silly ideas concerning promotions and very outlandish ideas about shows.

In 2005 I bought my first electric guitar and immediately took to customizing it with a very primitive Weezer tribute. It was simple, it was fun...and it meant something special to me as I jammed along to Weezer, learning the guitar.
Like most of you, Weezer has always held a special place in my heart and however strange it must be for a musician to hear it, the relationship to everything from tonality and chord progression to lyrics and effects that Weezer has created and mastered is a unique and very personable tone within the fan base. The music had been there through some really great times; it had seen my rock bottoms, and helped to mend heartache after heartache. I wanted to give something back, and it all started with a crazy idea...

I was playing in a Weezer tribute band called "Goat Punishment". We rocked the local bar scene in Waikiki and had some really great times. People said we revived their love of Weezer and even attracted some Weezer virgins to discover their discography. I was up late one night, studying for an exam and found myself just staring at my Dean Z...thinking about it, and how I loved the unique shape of explorer bodies. I turned back to my computer screen which has the famous lit-up =w= emanating like a beacon of epicness from a black background. And then it hit me...

I took a picture of the Dean lying on the ground with my cellphone, uploaded it to my computer and went right to work on microsoft paint. After a good twenty minutes of using the color tool I had my idea down in its roughest form.

Idea after idea kept coming. First I wanted classic red with a white pickguard. Then it had to be Blue Album blue with a tortise shell pickguard. And then I thought it would be really cool to paint part of the Pinkerton Album on the guitar and throw a real double headed axe blade on the head of the guitar to give it that "KISS" feeling.
Another year went by and I constantly worked on the idea. Karl got countless ideas asking specifics of what the band would want, what would be the coolest thing to do...and he just told me to go with my instincts, be classic but remain original. That was easier said than done...and nothing came close to leaving paper and internet display pixels.

My parents saw the design one summer when I brought it home with me. I had the size and scale all mocked up on cardboard, just needing a good piece of wood to car it onto. I had purchased book after book on building custom guitars and finally felt the courage to begin a testing model...and then I saw the price of guitar quality wood.
For a mere $250 I received a piece of 30"x20"x4" Old Growth Mahogany wood as a late birthday present. The theory was simple...get a piece of wood, carve it, cut it, paint it, wire it...wham-bam, electric guitar.

Hours and hours and hours later, the body was cut, the first of many layers of paint was drying, and the pickups were ready to get placed and wired. I chose something unique to Weezer, a set of 81/65 EMG's. With River's background in metal I thought he might appreciate active pickups. I have a set of these myself on a Les Paul and they scream like a banshee being tortured. It was at this point I had to go back to the drawing board.
I had designed a custom fretboard which was to be made of light maple and feature "W-E-E-Z-E-R-=w=" as the fret markers instead of the traditional dots or rectangles. Unfortunately funds were running short an the idea of screwing up something intended to be a gift, not a lame piece of trash that didn't work, saw me scrapping the idea completely and strapping on the neck of the Dean Z. It had the perfect feeling, and a headstock which swooped out like open wings; a nice counterpiece to the already large body of the =w=.

And then two years later...before my eyes sat the finished product...longer than most bases, wider than a full size cello, yet light, staunch and agile. With Weezer nowhere near Honolulu, it was next to impossible to deliver. Contact with Karl put me in contact with an address to ship it to, but again the curse of a poor college student left me choosing to eat over shipping the guitar.

The =w= saw action. I figured, better being used playing Weezer music by a tribute band than sitting in a closet in my room. This ended up being a perfect sound test allowing me to tweak parts of the guitar and settings before...

EndFest 2010. I had been watching the Weezer website, waiting for the Hurley tour announcement and then it happened. Driving home from the beach my girlfriend and I were listening to 107.7 The End and it happened, "Weezer has been confirmed for Seattle's EndFest this year...". We both went ballistic! After racing home I emailed Karl and we got everything set up. I was to bring the guitar to EndFest, meet up with him before the show and meet and greet with the band.
Little did either of us know what a fiasco the security would be at the show...

With the approval of Brian Bell, and an amazing "Epic Intro" (according to the setlist) followed by Hash Pipe, the guitar was officially Weezerized!

While we were unable to work out any kid of meeting with the band (like I said, security was waaaay crazy even with Karl doing everything he could to get me and my girlfriend backstage) we enjoyed an amazing show, got to watch the guitar in action, and got to meet up with Karl who was awesome enough to give us some show souvenirs!

Three years after the initial idea, $600 in parts and paint...and one night at End Fest later, it was all said and done. It was an amazing journey that led fantastic places. My Name is Lance, and Weezer rocks my senses.

Tags: Bell, Brian, Cuomo, Karl, Koch, Patrick, Rivers, Scott, Shriner, Wilson

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thats a great story, thanks for sharing.
No Lance, you rock our senses!!! Way to go bro! Your story is awesome.

A while back (in HS) I tried to build my own electric guitar. I cut the body and the neck is half done. I didn't have the ability, time or desire to finish it. its still waiting for me in NY and maybe one day I'll give it a go again.
Great story!
Great story and pics, Lance!
Thanks for the positive feedback! It was a great experience and wonderful opportunity. Though I haven't seen any evidence of them using the guitar since EndFest, I'm hoping it will get some use eventually.
That is so awesome.

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