The Bushwhacker Camouflage Guitar

The concept for the Camouflage guitar finish that we use on the guitars for Operation Support Our Troops America actually began several years ago in an Ace Hardware store in Carpentersville Illinois.


 I was buying a quart of motor oil for my 2001 Chevy Silverado. While I was standing in line to pay for it I noticed a little display on the counter that was selling tiny little flashlights about the size of your thumb. You know the kind…”Super Bright LED”… “Fits In Your Pocket”…” Guaranteed Forever”…Blah , Blah ,Blah…


What I marveled at was that there were actually 2 displays side by side. One was a display of all black flashlights and the other was a display of camouflage flashlights. I thought it was weird to have a camouflage flashlight because if you dropped it outside it would be hard to find it, but even more fascinating than that was the fact that the black flashlights were .99 cents and the camouflage flashlights were $1.99. They were the exact same flashlights but the one with the green and brown stripes on it was twice the price of the plain black one. What was even more amazing was the fact that the camouflage flashlights were almost sold out and the black display was almost completely full so clearly people not only wanted camouflage flashlights but were prepared to pay double for them.


Of course I bought a camouflage flashlight and I just kept contemplating “why would someone make a camouflage flashlight and why would someone else pay double for it?” I mean I bought it and Ididn’t even really want it. The camouflage pattern wasn’t even a good camouflage pattern, it was just black, brown and green stripes (What do you expect for 2 bucks?)


Then it finally dawned on me…camouflage is just cool!


There is something inherently cool about the way the colors of camouflage come together. Maybe it’s the stealth nature of its necessity that appeals to us. The way we try to outsmart our opponent by gaining the upper hand with the element of blended invisibility. Maybe it’s the symbolic reasoning that makes us believe we can get back in touch with nature and therefore we are not slaves to The Matrix of the world we have built around ourselves. Maybe there is just a little Ted Nugent in all of us that is just trying to get out. For whatever reason   camouflage is just cool and I knew that someday I wanted to create camouflage pattern for a guitar that was unique and different. So I put the idea in the back of my brain and quickly forgot about it.


Fast forward about 6 months…


I built a guitar for a guy and in trade I took in a pretty badly beat up Ibanez RG 540. I gave the guy $200 worth of trade in value which wasn’t a lot but let’s face it, I didn’t really want a beat up  Ibanez RG  laying around my shop. Nonetheless I figured I could at least get $200 for it so I took it and stuck it in a corner somewhere. After about 3 months of moving it around I decided it was time to get rid of it and decided to do a hot rod mod on it and try to get some cash for it. So I pulled out my idea for the camouflage guitar that I had months earlier and decided to try it out.


I knew that I wanted to use authentic military grade ultra-flat camouflage paint and not just some cheap knock off so I dug around on the internet until I found a supplier that I liked and then I set out to design the camouflage pattern.


I tried several different times to come up with a pattern that was unique but didn’t look cheesy. That turned out to be more difficult than I had imagined.  While camouflage may appear to be an easy finish I can assure that coming up with something that is unique that doesn’t look stupid is not such an easy challenge.  I ran in to 2 different dilemmas, either it looked like I put way too much thought into the pattern or not enough thought.


There are several artists on the market who currently use camouflage patterns on their “signature” guitars so I will be very careful to bash them and their designs but I think that they should have put more thought into their design. 


My inspiration for the final design came primarily from the George Lynch Kamikaze guitar.  ESP Guitars released the George Lynch Kamikaze as his first signature guitar in the late 80’s and it came with a unique finish that was a yellow, black, brown and red pattern with a picture of a Japanese Kamikaze pilot complete with bombs and Japanese writing.  I admired the way that the pattern seemed violent like the result of some brutal stabbing because the lines were jagged and were not intended to be uniform or smooth. The overlapping color patterns were random and often seemed pointless and distracting until the entire pattern was viewed as a whole. I incorporated these ideas into my own pattern and changed the color scheme to traditional camouflage colors and set out to do a demo run.


I did a test finish on the RG 540 and sealed it with a flat non reflective gloss finish because I figured that camouflage was supposed to be non-reflective and ultra-flat.  The first finish turned out OK but I wasn’t satisfied with the way the edges separated so I had to use a better brand of masking tape. I also wasn’t pleased with the non-reflective finish and decided that if I ever did another camouflage guitar I would use a different finish coat.


As fate would have it I would get another chance a few months later.  I took another guitar in trade, an Ibanez USA custom that was really scratched up. This time I really wanted to take this guitar in trade because I wanted another crack at my camouflage pattern. I stripped it down and refinished it with the same concepts only with a little better execution and a Satin/Matte finish. This one came out much better but I still wasn’t happy with the matte finish so I decided that I would do a standard gloss finish on all camouflage guitars in the future.


I mean the concept is to make the guitar look cool not to make it invisible to enemy snipers.


Thus the Bushwhacker Camouflage pattern was born. The truly unique thing about this finish is that the patterns are all done by hand and no two are ever alike.   Every line and overlay has to be cut and masked by hand so each guitar is a one of a kind.


(Note: The original 2 Bushwhacker Ibanez guitars were sold on Ebay and are out there somewhere)


Fast Forward  Two Years…


I was commissioned by Jim Chakires of Apex CPA’s to build a custom guitar for his Shave the Nation Organization to be used as a promotional tool for Operation Support Our Troops America. The guitar would feature a custom graphic of the Shave the Nation “Uncle Sam” Mascot with a red,white and blue Mohawk. Shave the Nation is a fundraiser booth that operates at the Annual “Rockin for the Troops” Concert. For a donation you can show your support for our troops by shaving your head into a red, white and blue Mohawk and each donation would enter you into a raffle. The winner would get the Shave the Nation Guitar. All donations would then be given to OSOT America to support our troops overseas.


It was through this that I got in contact with Deb Rickert, the president of Operation Support Our Troops America and we decided to do an OSOT Troops themed guitar that would be raffled to raise additional money to send care packages overseas as well as helping wounded veterans with recovery and transition back into civilian life.


She asked me what I had in mind and I immediately knew that it was time to make the Bushwhacker Camouflage Guitar a parts of OSOT history.


We did our first guitar in 2012 and it met with tremendous success.


In 2013 we reached out to our vendors for support and the response was overwhelming.  EMG Pickups, Hipshot Products , D’Addario Strings,  Gator Cases, Stewart MacDonald Guitar Shop Supply, Line 6 Amplifiers, Gonne’ Amplifiers and Getz Hot Rod Innovations all got behind the project and this year we hope to make it an even bigger success.


Like I said before …”Camouflage is just cool!”


God Bless The United States of America

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