Catch of the Day: Luke Doucet’s Creston Water Tank Custom


It’s a rare thing when one can simply write a check and get a Creston–he builds a guitar on spec only occasionally and pre-owned specimens are still fewer and farther between–so when this particular guitar appeared we figured it wouldn’t linger long enough to warrant a “Catch of the Day.” However, linger it did, so here it is…

What we got here is basically a classic Creston, a sublimely mongrelized Tele-style guitar built from his legendary and coveted (now-depleted) stash of 150-year-old water tank/pickle vat western red cedar that, as perhaps best described by Mr. Lea himself, “began its vocational life as a stave in a locomotive water tank on the trans-American railroad, circa late-1860s. In 1902, made redundant by a change in locomotive efficiency, it was torn down and recoopered into a pickle vat stave at a Fort Collins, CO pickle operation. In 1992, it was torn down again and sat dormant, air drying in the Rocky Mountains, until 2013 when it found itself assembled into this guitar.”

The guitar sports a pair of Lollar ‘50s-wind P-90s, wired together simply (a 3-way blade switch and just a volume knob), and a mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard. The guitar was ordered by Canadian guitar monster Luke Doucet (check out our interview with him and his partner in life and Whitehorse, Melissa McClelland, here) in 2013; Luke removed the original Bigsby at one point and more recently traded the guitar back to Creston for a shiny blue Jazzmaster. It’s not crazy-light, but it ain’t heavy by a long shot, at just 6 pounds, 11 ounces [without the Bigsby, which was recently reinstalled]. The neck is a not-too-chunky .870″-.970″, with a rounded profile that Creston describes as “like a ‘50s Gibson.”


Now, as much as that stash of reclaimed western red cedar was coveted, over years of using it  Creston discovered that he is profoundly allergic to its dust and has finally “sworn off” using red cedar any more. Allergens aside, cedar is not entirely dissimilar to spruce (or pine, for that matter), and with a solid slab the differences that might be more evident (in an acoustic guitar’s top, for example) are even less apparent. Factor in 150 years of aging, time spent as a water tank and the stave of a pickle vat and a rough bit of whitewash applied under the nitro lacquer and you’re looking at a fairly singular hunk of wood. Seriously, dig how the whitewash accentuates the grain on the guitar’s sides…

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any recordings of the guitar in Mr. Doucet’s hands, though we did find a clip of it being played by Joel Plasket onstage with Luke and Kathleen Edwards. Little bits of it can be heard here and there, and it’s easy to sense the instrument’s presence and clarity. When pushed, Creston humbly admitted, “It really does feel and sound very good.”

UPDATE: Turns out we were pushing it to call this a “once in a lifetime” opportunity–this guitar sold soon after we published this Catch, but recently resurfaced at Carter Vintage. It can be yours, with an embroidered Creston gig bag, for $2,300.