It Might Get Weird: Ra Power — McMahon Artistry Ankh Guitar

The ancient Egyptians' numerous cultural achievements included the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx and the Telecaster.

What? Actually, Scott McMahon of McMahon Artistry built this Telecaster adorned with Egyptian hieroglyphic carvings during the 21st century. He also gave it an appropriate name: the Ankh.

“The artwork tells the story of King Tut's resurrection,” McMahon says. “The graphics are adopted from a painting in King Tut's burial chamber where he is being given the symbol for life-the Ankh.

"The all-seeing eye of Ra is on the headstock. To honor Tut's father Akhenaton, I included a spell from the Book of the Dead around the side of the guitar, paying homage to the creator of all things.”

McMahon used traditional tools to carve the body entirely by hand. He carved the depiction of Isis in a traditional relief style and employed chip-carving knives for the rest of guitar.

“That replicates the Egyptian style of 'sunken relief' popular during the 18th and 19th dynasties and allowed me to achieve this piece's fine detail,” he explains. “Using power tools might decrease the time it would take me to complete a guitar, but only old-world tools can provide the fine detail that this piece needed.”

The one-piece basswood body is decorated with gold-leaf embellishments, but because McMahon wanted to replicate sandstone carvings he left most of the wood in a natural state, finishing it only with amber shellac and an oil finish. Other features include gold-color copper-alloy frets, 24-karat-gold strings, and stainless-steel screws, brass fine tuners, and titanium string blocks made by Floyd Rose.

The Ankh is just one of McMahon Artistry’s several hand-carved masterpieces, which include the Diamondback, the Chief and the Celt. McMahon will build whatever a customer wants on commission, and he’s currently working on a Mayan-inspired piece for his personal portfolio. His work was on display at this year’s NAMM show at the Floyd Rose booth. The Ankh is also available for sale, should you need it for your Iron Maiden tribute band’s Powerslave set.

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.