November 26, 2011

Hi there!  I’m back to finish off the section where I’ve talked about working with the local Bay Area Bands back in the late eighties, early nineties.  The following are several more adverts that were posted in BAM Magazine and represent several more bands who I did show ads and handouts for.  I’m not going to caption them as I think they speak for themselves.

The last two graphics are a couple of my self promotion pieces . . . .

Another thing that I’ve been contemplating for upcoming posts here is that I’ve been planning to build some new instruments during the new year to come and I’d like to do a series of photos showing the progression of construction as they are being built.  Right now they are in the planning stages and I’m drawing full sized layouts to work from as I build.  I will most likely begin the posts with shots of the layouts and then blend that into the shots of the actual construction from beginning to end.  You will get to see the equipment I use and some of my building techniques too.  I don’t have my ideal shop put together yet but just enough good tools and equipment  to be dangerous.  I will also let you in on some of the places I buy my hardware and other supplies from.  So check back as this will all begin probably around the end of January 2012.  Thanks for stopping by.



March 15, 2011

Hi everyone.  I just spent 8 months of 12 hour days leading up the 2011 NAMM Show at the Anaheim, California convention center to build 4 Vinnie Vincent guitars to display at the show.  I worked directly with Vinnie to produce the most accurate prototype copies of the late eighties guitars that he used during the Vinnie Vincent Invasion years.  He is authenticating them now and afterwards they will be available for purchase as collectors items through TM1 Holdings.  At the end of my blog I will add the contact information for inquiries or purchases.  So take a look at the photos below and see what you think.  Incidentally, the catalog photos are a joint effort between Vinnie and myself, with Vinnie as art director/designer and me as production designer, photographer, and digital artist.

The following photo is shot of the display that we had at the show.  I did the production graphics for the banner and built the lighting assembly and guitar display stand.

For more information or ordering guitars call toll free:   855-882-9172

Or Dept. A online at:  order1@vinnievincentmodelguitar.com

More History and Guitars

July 28, 2010
Hi, I’m back for a bit.  Wanted to show you another custom PEAR guitar that I built several years ago for a very good friend of mine.  I may have mentioned him before, his name is Eric Larson and he had a band in the San Francisco Bay area called “Chapter 9”.  The custom I built for him, below, is a Tele style guitar with a book matched flame maple top on an Alder body.  The finish is black sun-burst .

Eric's PEAR Custom Telecaster

Here’s another photo of his Cort double neck which he had me modify to reduce the weight.  The horns were shortened, a large chunk of body was removed from the the area of the rear strap lock and a little bit was removed from the head stocks just for looks.  The refinish is a Sea Foam Green urethane.

Eric's Cort Double Neck

Next photo is Eric enjoying the “new” Cort guitar at a “Rock Against Hunger Concert” at Gardella Greens in Livermore, California sometime in 1992 or 93.

Eric & Chapter Nine at Gardella Greens, Livermore,CA

Moving on, here’s a photo showing one of my Custom “Mini” guitars in progress now in my new AZG shop.  The body is semi hollow Alder with a book matched quilted maple top and headstock.  The fret board is ebony with abalone and mother of pearl inlays.  The final finish will be a tobacco sun-burst over a natural finish.  The bridge pickup is a Bartolini V8KPS model (it’s like a warmer PAF) with a Bartolini LCE-3XN single coil neck pickup.  This one, so far, is meant to be a personal guitar for me.  I’ve made and sold several of these in various finishes and now I want of my own.

Custom AZG "Mini"

Moving On

July 12, 2010

Hi.  I’ve been busy elsewhere but now I need to add a few things to the blog due to some interesting events of the past few days.  I currently have 4 custom guitars in the the works and I’m moving toward creating an online catalog of the results.  As most of you have read before I have been building custom guitars since 1986.  Included in that is many, many, repair jobs and refinish paint jobs as well.  Lately some folks out there seem to be a little skeptical that I have what it takes to produce professional quality instruments so I’m jumping back in the fray to post a few photos of my past jobs.

Before I do I think it might be prudent to give those of you who don’t know much about me a brief glimpse of my background.

Junior College:   Majors – Technical Illustration /  Photography

Art Center College of Design:  Major – Product Design

Xerox Corporation:   Senior Product Designer / Manager

Atari Corporation:   Senior Product Designer

Palecki Design:  Product Design, Model Building, Graphics and Illustration

PEAR Design:  Product Design, Model Building, Prototypes, Graphics, Business Management

PEAR Custom Guitars:  Design & Build, Repairs, Refinish Painting, Graphics

With all of that in mind here are the photos . . . .

PEAR Customs Guitars at a GoodGuys Car show Event.

Custom Neck-Through


Custom PEAR Scorpion with Carbon Fiber Neck

Custom Strat in Solid Quilted Maple

PEAR Custom Scorpion with Alder/Flame Maple body

"The Angel"

PEAR Custom Scorpion

Rear Detail

Custom 80's Style Strat

PEAR Custom "RPF" Scorpion in Flame Maple

PEAR Custom "Space Bass"

PEAR Custom Stereo V with 48 Selectable Tone Variations

Last but not Least - The 1992 Vinnie

So there you have it.  This represents just a small portion of the many guitars I’ve had the pleasure to build or work on over the years in a professional sense.  I’m certain that anyone who purchases an instrument now from my new company, AZ Guitars, will find the quality and service second to none.

Just a final note, all photos shown are copyrighted by Tom Palecki and may not be reproduced or used without permission.  Strat is a registered trademark of Fender Instruments corp.

Graphics and Stuff

October 1, 2009

Well, so much for my “Regular Blog Schedule”. Seems that in my line of work things are full on, then they’re off. Up and down it is. Last week was up this week it’s down. I thought then that I ought to get back to things here while I’ve got the chance.

In this part I want to throw in some graphics work that I did back in the late 80’s early 90’s while working with several bands in the bay area. I met a lot of guys through my guitar repair business and several of them asked me if I could do ads and banners and things as well as the guitar work. Well of course, with some background in graphic design, I said yes and the following presentation is a capsule report on the results.

One of the first bands I worked with was called Heist. The lead singer, Paul Holgate, at the time was working at Runzo’s Music World in Dublin, CA and I met him through Sean McKeon who owned that first guitar I ever painted back in part 2. So the way it started was that Paul asked me if I would paint a banner for the band and he gave me a copy of the band logo to work from. I ordered a blank custom banner which was made by a local awning company and got to work. I traced it out in my backyard at night using my slide projector to enlarge the image and with the banner hanging on the back of my house. At the time I was still building and repairing guitars in my garage. So I set about painting in the logo with the banner on my garage floor.

The following photo shows the banner behind the band during a show at an east bay club called The Hill. By the way, out in front is Craig, the bass player.  I had also painted his bass and completed the construction for him.

Craig at the Hill

And below, here’s the whole band.  By the way, Paul Holgate (in the center) is a terrific singer. Before Heist, Paul had toured with Ronnie Montrose  replacing Sammy Hagar who had left for greener pastures.


I got another banner job from an amazingly talented drummer, John Link, who also worked at Runzo’s.  He was in a band called Sticky Fingers and at the time they were working on a new name and image.  My involvement with them started when John asked me to design a new logo using their new name “Murder Bay”.  I spent many hours on the design, giving them several concepts to choose from.  The final choice is shown below.


After completing the logo I started on the banner using the same procedure as the Heist banner.  Only this time I did the final paint work on the floor in my dining room.  All of this was leading up to a big introductory show at a club called the Omni in Oakland, California.  In the two weeks before the show I built a theme guitar for the lead guitarist, Mike, to play at the show.  It was hand carved and painted a bone colored sparkle pearl with black airbrushed details.  I was hoping that he would like it so much that he would buy it, but no dice.  I ended up a couple of years later selling it to a local guitar collector.  As far as I know today he still has it.  This is it.


Besides the logo, banner and guitar, I also painted the logo on John’s drum head and created some advertisements and posters for their shows.

We had a great local magazine called BAM magazine (for Bay Area Music) so along with my PEAR Custom Guitar ads I was creating and placing ads in there for many of the bands I worked with.  Here are some for Murder Bay . . . .



That’s probably enough for now, so next time I’ll throw in several other band ads and posters then following that I’ll get back to the guitar stuff.  The BAM ads etc. were mostly done in the late 80’s early 90’s so we’re getting close to the time when I first met Vinnie Vincent.  I’ll do my best to see what I’m authorized to publish about those times and the building of the PEAR VVV.


Part 3 PEAR Guitars

September 5, 2009

Hi, I’m back.  I had to take a little vacation and attend to some major business issues.  From now on I’ll try to keep a more regular schedule of writing for the blog.

In this thrilling episode I want to continue to show you more of the guitars I built that gave me the practice and learning I needed to get me on the right track in creating better and better guitars.  Each one I built was a lesson in either what not to do or what to do more of.

As my background is in product design, my main inspiration in building is to create guitars that are not copies of something else.  I want them to project my thoughts and feeling of how a certain guitar should look.  More of an artistic approach to building.  A lot of people start out to build a guitar that is a copy of one that they like a lot but can’t afford at the moment.  The most common guitar copy is a Strat as they look great and were designed from the beginning to be easy and fast to build. Plus there are are a zillion companies out there that make hardware parts for them.  One of my goals is to be able to design my own versions of the hardware so that those parts are integrated more into the overall design of the guitar. I haven’t quite gotten there yet but it’s coming.

The next two guitars that I built are the Shark and Voyager II.  I like the concept of a “V” guitar however, I find most of them are kind of boring.  So that led me to create the shark.  I thought that since a V guitar looks a bit like a fish tail fin, why not make it look more like that.  Also make it look a bit more mean while you’re at it.  I then choose, in general, to use a shark tail fin design and this is the result.




Some of the details of this one:

Hand shaped Alder body.  White pearl laquer base with Tiger Shark stripes, Jackson tremolo and Bartolini pickups.  Volume and tone for each pickup, pickup select switch and pickup series/parallel switch.  The neck is a strat copy with modified headstock.  At first I was buying necks, and for what I consider to be the best after market necks you can get I was buying from Warmoth Guitar Products in Puyallup, Washington.  They were the first that I know of that began making compound fret board necks where the at the nut the radius starts at 12″ and blends to 16″ at the 22nd / 24th fret.  Very nice!

Next in line is the Voyager II.  The Voyager II and the Shark were built at the same time and I was working back and forth as they progressed.  This also was the first time I bought all of the hardware for the guitars which was a step up in quality.  I’m not sure when it was that I discovered the Stewart-McDonald’s Guitar shop Supply catalog but it was early on and is a great place to order parts, building supplies and tools from.   I still use it to this day.

Here now is the Voyager II:  (As you’ll see, I should have named it the Ferrari).



Details:    Body, hand shaped solid Alder with House of Kolor black base and red pearl overcoat under a polyurethane clear coat.  The neck is a Strat copy (Warmoth) with modified headstock.  Jackson trem, Bartolini PU – bridge position and built-in Nady wireless.  All of the electronics are under the removable face plate to the rear of the trem which enables you to get at all of that stuff with out removing the strings or anything else to do it.  In the neck PU position is a blanking plate which can be removed for installation of another pickup.  On the bottom edge is a ribbed rubber strip to keep the guitar from slipping off your leg if you’re a sit-down player.

Following these two guitars and with the experience I gained in building them, I was approached by my first customer wanting me to build him a custom guitar.  So we had a meeting where we hashed out all of his requirements for the guitar.  I later worked out a quote for the work including cost of materials, parts and a schedule for completion.  We got together again where he accepted my quote and I started building.  In this case too I was asked to use a neck that he provided, but he wanted me to remove and install a different fret board using a different type of wood called King Wood.  For that I found a great exotic wood company in Berkeley, California which had just what I was looking for. The fun part was figuring out how to shave the old fretboard off with out destroying the neck.  I decided to make up a jig to mount the neck on then run it through my table saw.  I had to remove all the frets first and make sure the truss rod was in neutral before passing it through the blade.  Was I nervous?  You betcha!  I think I did it in two or three passes, all went well on the saw and the jig worked just fine.  Below are some photos of the finished guitar.




The details:

“Flat Strat” (80’s lingo) Alder body.  Some grain detail of the King Wood which is a really nice wood in appearance as well as workability.  It is also a great tone wood and by itself will ring when knocked on with your knuckle.  I had some thick scraps left after the job and made myself a book matched fretboard blank which I’m still saving for something special.  Oh yeah, back to the guitar.  Again we have the Jackson trem / Bartolini pickups combo.  As you can see too by the rear view, a built-in Nady wireless system and large back plate to cover all of the necessary trem and electronics cavities as well as a protection plate for the rear of the guitar.  On the front side are a system on switch for the Nady, a series/parallel switch for the pickups and the PU select switch on the lower horn. The paint work is House of Kolor black base coat with purple pearl airbrush graphics under a poly urethane clear.

Boy, that taps me out for today but stay tuned, a lot more to come.  The last three guitars were built in 1987 so there’s only 5 more years to go to the Vinnie Triple “V”.

Part 2 of PEAR Custom Guitars

July 9, 2009

Hello again,

In part 2 I’ll give a little more background and add the photos of my first PEAR Custom Guitar, the Voyager 1.

I also wanted to say that when you see the photos of the guitar you’ll notice that the head stock does not quite match the design of the body.  This is because I used the neck that came off of the Heavy Metal, kind of Bat style, Sears guitar.  Later I built an updated version of the #1 design but I’ll cover that one in a new post.

So, here’s a few photos of the Voyager 1:

Rough body

Rough body

Parts assembly test

Parts assembly test

Completed Voyager 1

Completed Voyager 1

At this point I need to back track a little and note that I started into the guitar thing in about 1985 and I was working out of my garage spray painting bodies that were hanging on my open garage door.  The driveway was a different color every few weeks.

I worked from then until March of 1991 when I opened up PEAR Custom Guitars and PEAR Design in a commercial building in Pleasanton, California.  There I installed a professional paint spray booth to control the dust and dirt and the paint residue I encountered while painting in and out of my garage.  I was also able to acquire and install some nice machine tools to aid in building bodies and necks as well.

My first-ever guitar paint job.

My first-ever guitar paint job.

Several other areas that I got involved in while building and painting guitars were, airbrush graphics and illustrations on guitar bodies and the production and placement of show ads for my guitar clients.  I worked with many different bands in the late 80s and early 90s in the Bay area mostly doing ads for BAM Magazine, including Band logos, fliers, T-shirts etc.  As this blog continues on I will be naming names and showing some of the art and ads from those days gone by.


Hello world!

July 6, 2009

Welcome to AZ Guitars.  This is our first blog to introduce ourselves to that big world out there.  Where art is created, new products are invented and designed and guitars are made.

My name is Tom Palecki and this is the story of how AZ Guitars came to be.

This small biz was brought into being back in 1985 when I was asked by a young friend of one of my neighbors if I could paint a guitar for him.  I did that, and as I was already a product designer, I became aware of the incredible possibilities of blending art, design, music and craftsmanship in the building of custom instruments.  Everything I was involved in or doing at the time could all be rolled into one creative endeavor.

So, I started sketching idea after idea.  Looking at guitar magazines and haunting the local music stores to absorb all I could in my quest for creation.  For the first guitar I built from one of my own designs I needed to come up with all of the other parts that would be installed on the body and neck.  I found an inexpensive heavy-metal style guitar in the Sears catalog and promptly ordered one.  When it arrived at my door I ripped open the box and immediately started dismantling the unfortunate instrument.  By doing so I was able to see how all of the parts fit together and were interrelated.  The body design evolved by the visual installation of all the parts, first on paper.  More on this tomorrow where I’ll post a photo of the first guitar named “The Voyager”.  Also, how PEAR Custom Guitars, the beginning of it all, became a small icon in the East Bay of San Francisco, California.