This is a feature from the March/April 2017 issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine. For this complete story and more photos, plus features on the making of Martin’s one-of-a-kind two-millionth guitar, Ricky Gervais and the return of his guitar-playing alter ego David Brent, plus GA’s annual motoring section, including features on the Doobie Brothers’ Pat Simmons and his antique Harley-Davidsons, John Oates and his life-long fascination with cars and racing, and the untold story behind Led Zeppelin’s McLaren M8E/D racecar, pick up the new issue of Guitar Aficionado at your newsstand, or online by clicking here.
Boutique Beauty: The Prisma Accardo Is Built from Reclaimed Skateboard Decks
By Richard Bienstock | Photography by Massimo Gammacurta
As a teenager growing up in Southern California in the early 2000s, Nick Pourfard was consumed with skateboarding and playing guitar. But a skateboard accident in 2010 changed the course of his life. “I had built this makeshift skate spot near my parents’ house, in San Diego—a total DIY thing,” Pourfard, now 25, recalls. “I poured a bunch of concrete, and the next day as I was skating I tore a tendon in my ankle. I couldn’t walk for months, and I definitely couldn’t skate.” Having had some experience in woodworking, Pourfard turned to constructing furniture in a small 10×10 shed behind his parents’ house. Eventually, he decided to build a guitar.
“At first I was going to build it out of walnut,” he recalls, “but I was so unenthused. I thought, Why would I make something that I could just buy in a store, that already exists?” Instead, he decided to build an instrument that, in his mind, did not exist: a Tele-style electric guitar with a top constructed from the wood of used skateboard decks. “I didn’t even know if it would work,” Pourfard says. “But I went for it. And the thing about skate decks is that most people think they’re just made of plywood. But 99.9 percent of the time they’re actually hard rock maple. As soon as I got the body cut out, I was like, This is it!”
Pourfard continued experimenting with using skateboard decks in instrument builds and eventually launched his own company, Prisma Guitars, which he currently runs out of the garage of his home in San Francisco. He is assisted by two guitar techs and a woodworker, though he estimates that he does as much as 80 percent of the construction of every instrument himself, from routing to sanding to binding. Since starting operations in 2014, Pourfard has produced upward of 100 instruments, each incorporating varying degrees of wood from old skate decks—anywhere from four to, in one case, 50—in their construction. He currently offers eight different Prisma models, including his “favorite design,” the Accardo, an example of which is shown here. The guitar’s hard rock maple top is constructed from a combination of 30 quartersawn Skate Mental decks (“the company’s calling card is boards that are mostly blue and orange,” Pourfard says, explaining the Accardo’s color scheme), which are glued and compressed together using a “giant custom press” and then bookmatched to create a stunning pattern.
As for how the pattern emerges, “It’s just from working the material,” Pourfard says. “If you cut a skateboard in half, you’ll see seven plies of wood, and the dye runs all the way through. And for our guitars that don’t use quartersawn decks, we have a special jig that creates color swirls. Each guitar comes out a little bit different.”
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