MORE PAUL
Guitar Player|September 2021
Jon Sullivan’s ’71 Trella takes the classic single-cutaway set-neck design to new lengths.
TOM BEAUJOUR

IN HIS CAREER as a guitar builder, Jon Sullivan has likely agonized over a myriad of decisions regarding the form and function of his eye-catching instruments, but what to call them was never up for debate. “I got my first electric guitar in 1983, when I was 12,” he recalls. “It was a Maxitone, from the Matsumoku factory in Japan, that was a very ’60s, Jetsons-like bastardization of a Strat. I was very excited about it, and I took a Sharpie and signed ‘Sully’ on the headstock. So it was always going to be a thing.”

Like many guitar-obsessed teens who came of age in the ’80s, Sullivan, who grew up in Lombard, Illinois, spent his teenage years learning the licks of hard-rock icons such as Ace Frehley, Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, and Ratt’s Warren DeMartini and Robbin Crosby. He was influenced by not onlytheir playing but also their choice in instruments. “I was attracted to the newer, flashier, more modern guitars they played, like Robbin’s Jackson King V, and guitars built from various parts, like Ed’s Frankenstein,” Sullivan says. “I didn’t care about Fender Strats.” When he wasn’t practicing, Sullivan pored over the ads for guitar parts, necks and bodies in the back pages of guitar magazines, and studied the catalogs he received from luthiery supply house Stewart-McDonald. “And then I would also hang out like a stray cat at my local music store, Park Ave Guitarz. They were Jackson dealers, so they had all kinds of cool custom-shop stuff, and the owner, Steve Harnack, was just so nice to me. I would watch him do repairs and build parts guitars for all of the guys in town, and just ask questions.”

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