The project began as a simple gesture, one friend wanting to do something nice for another friend.
It’s turned into a limited edition musical instrument for the ultra-fan of a Billboard charting artist.
Darrell Marecle, an amateur luthier, wanted to build a guitar for Paul Thorn.
A luthier is someone who builds or repairs string instruments generally consisting of a neck and a sound box.
Darrell, owner of a media production company, also goes on the road to help Paul at times during shows.
“I’ve been working with Paul for about ten years, known him longer than that,” he said. “So I was talking with Michael Graham and he said, ‘let me give you a suggestion, build him one with a Telecaster®, because his Telecaster® hums some.”
Michael “The Doctor” plays guitar, keyboards, and is an audio engineer with the Paul Thorn Band.
Next Darrell talked with Billy Maddox, Paul’s longtime songwriting partner who has strong ties to the southern musical hub Muscle Shoals.
“So I’m talking with Billy about what I’m thinking about doing and he said, ‘you ought to do some weird shape for the guitar body, like the shape of Mississippi.’”
It was about a week into March 2018, Darrell now had the idea and started carving just a little.
“So I’m just getting started, and I get a call from Billy,” Darrell said. “He asked, ‘how quick can you get that guitar?’ I said probably a couple months. Then he said, ‘Paul’s being awarded Paul Thorn Day in Mississippi and they’d like to present him with that guitar.’”
March 27 was proclaimed “Paul Thorn Day” on the first floor of the Capitol in Jackson by the Mississippi House of Representatives.
“That deadline was above my paygrade so I got Michael Gillentine to help me finish that first one. I just didn’t have the tools to get it out the fast,” the luthier said.
Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, was the primary author of the resolution honoring Thorn. The resolution said the entertainer has been an active participant in helping to raise funds for the Regional Rehabilitation Center in Tupelo, which provides multiple services, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy and other services, free of charge.
“I want to say thank you to Steve and I also want to say — now that he is not our state representative, whoever is going in has got some big shoes to fill,” Paul said. “Steve is a man of the people. I’ve seen it. He loves the one, up high and he loves the ones down low. He’s the same with both.”
What became a surprize to Darrell was Paul didn’t just like the guitar, he started playing it wherever he went.
“When I got it — it was just a blank piece of wood (shaped like Mississippi). It had no finish on it,” Paul said. “I was encouraged to come up with some kind of idea. So I studied on it, and studied on it and I thought ‘what really keeps me going, in this career, is my fans.’ And as you know, I do artwork — that’s my hobby. “So I drew a picture of my fans. You see all these faces and it’s kinda like what I see every night when I look out. I wanted to honor my fans.”
Next Paul and Billy started talking about making a limited edition of the guitar, just like the one Paul was playing, for that ultimate fan. It would be a one-piece body constructed out of poplar, a wood native to Mississippi, with a maple neck, individually hand-assembled and set up by a professional luthier.
The guitar was named - “MissCaster.”
“Miss is short for Mississippi and Caster is representative of Telecaster®,” Paul said.
“Most guitarists, if they have a name for their guitar, it’s a female,” Darrell added.
So how long was the process of getting this prototype finished? The answer was a simultaneous hearty laugh from both musicians. Sometimes major undertakings like this need a little motivation.
“We had to light a fire under them a little bit,” Paul said and laughed.
Next question, “Did you have to put on your boxing gloves?”
The Mississippi-raised musician was a fighter in another lifetime. He boxed as a middleweight between 1985 and 1988 with his most prominent match against four-time World Champion Roberto Duran.
Paul smiled and said, “If I’m boxing, I’m playing. If I don’t have my gloves on, I’m not playing.”
Building a guitar with one side carved in the shape of the state, formed by the Mississippi River, was no easy process.
That process has been completed with a limited number of 25 available, but four have already sold as of presstime. The guys are confident they’ll sell the other 21, but feel they’ll stick to the “limited” part.
“This guitar is kinda like ‘Billy Bass’ in a way, because they threw ‘Billy Bass’ out there and a lot of people snatched them up, they put him on the wall and they heard ‘Take me to the River,’ a great song but, at some point, there was no more demand because everyone had one,” Paul said and laughed. “Today, right now ... there’s a warehouse that’s got about a thousand Billy Basses still in the box. “So I don’t want to be too arrogant, and think this is going to be the next Telecaster®. So we’re keeping it very limited.’
“All of the things on this guitar are Paul’s ideas,” Darrell said. “The pleasure I get out of this guitar is that he plays it and loves it.”
For more information, or to order one of these guitars go to www.paulthorn.com