If you agree that guitars and women are two of the sexiest things in the entire universe, then the Marilyn guitar is for you.
It considerably ups the ante by combining the two, with a hand-carved body that perfectly duplicates every curve and detail of Marilyn Monroe’s famed pinup photo in the 1953 debut issue of Playboy magazine.
Appropriately, the Marilyn guitar made its own debut in the May 1979 issue of Playboy, which featured Monroe on the cover as well. “Stan Farr of Rock ’n’ Wood Guitars in Chicago carved the body,” says Jeff Johnson, the guitar’s current owner.
“Rock ’n’ Wood originally planned to make 100 Marilyn guitars, but they only completed three. This one is number 003. One week after I bought her, Rock ’n’ Wood called me and asked for it back as the other two, which weren’t as perfected as mine, were stolen from their showroom window and they didn’t have a template to make a fourth one.”
The Marilyn guitar’s body was carved from cherry (what else?) and features a maple set neck with an ebony fretboard, abalone inlays, and matching cherry headstock overlay. The knobs are also carved out of cherry, giving new meaning to hardwood. The pickups are a pair of mini DiMarzio Super Distortion humbuckers.
“They told me they used the smallest humbuckers available to cover the body as little as possible.”
Over the past few decades, Johnson has generously shared Marilyn with numerous rock stars, including Frank Zappa, the members of Mötley Crüe, Ronnie Wood, Angus Young and others, all of whom autographed her backside. Longtime Guitar World readers may also recall seeing Marilyn in ads for Johnson’s company (Paradise Woodworks, known today as Louderspeaker) in the mid Eighties, cradled in the hands of Johnson’s sister Joy.
“My phone rang off the hook and my mailbox was filled,” says Johnson. “Half of the inquiries were about either my sister or the guitar.” (Editor's note: You can see the original Paradise Woodworks ad right here.)
Johnson is working on building 100 USA-made guitar and bass duplicates of the original Marilyn guitar, which he plans to sell later this year. He is considering Kickstarter or Indiegogo as a means to fund the project. “The Marilyn centerfold came out 60 years ago, and I bought the guitar about 35 years ago,” he says. “This is where Marilyn’s future begins.”
For more information, visit marilynguitar.com.
Photos: Paul Crisanti/Photogetgo/Philamonjaro Studios