“Cross of Van Helsing” 6-1/2 Foot Vampire Killing, Three-Stringed Fretless, Electric Guitar

“Cross of Van Helsing”

Fretless Halloween themed guitar has an action that allows it to be played with slide or fingers. The 6’6” body features a spear at the bottom, a sharpened stake on one end of the cross beam and a rosary/free floating crucifix embellishment at the top. The components include a hidden, handmade electromagnetic pickup, partially hidden tuning machines, and blood red strings. Perfect for all of your vampire hunting needs—and perhaps a song or two.

Body and Neck:

The body and neck flow as one piece—the upper part of the cross and the perpendicular stake, that form the cross, are glued to the extended oak fretboard that runs past the tuning machines and ends to the top of the cross. On the underside, there is a long oak cavity plate that covers the electronics and lends greater stability to the top portion.

Before assembly, the bottom of the cross was ground down to a spear and the cross beam was ground to a sharp stake. Both the maple neck/body and the oak components were finished with two shades of vinegar and steel wool stain—white vinegar and red wine vinegar, which let the wood with a heavy red tone.

There was not a headstock per say, so I carved the double blades in the position where they would have been found had this turned out as normal length guitar.

Tuners, String Clamps, nut and bridge:

The tuning cavity is buried within the body and is covered by the extended fretboard. The peg and gearbox of the tuning machine were located just below the cross beam, next to the output jack. These partially hidden tuners have a look of distressed bronze, which helps them blend into the color of the build.

The brass knurled nut string clamps were located on the “headstock” portion of the build to hold the strings tightly. Two lengths of 3/8″ rebar are cut to 1-1/2″, ground flat on the bottom and polished on top. The polished tops were later notched with a five to keep the strings in place.

Pickup and Output Jack:

I installed one Nd144 electromagnetic pickup in the neck position. It is concealed beneath the extended fretboard and is wired directly through the output jack. The jack is located just below the tuning machines on the side.

Strings, Strap, and Crucifix:

To maintain the vampire theme, I sourced red DR strings to serve as “blood.”

Additionally, I made a strap and two headstock strap ties from black duct tape and brass binding screws.

The rosary was wrapped around the top and then hot glued to the hole in the wood.

Final word:

This was a challenging build that required techniques that I had not used before. It also my longest and most dangerous build, just taller that the height of my No Parking sign guitar. It plays great and is safe as long as you remain 6-feet away from everyone.