James Trussart is one of the few builders who has broken the mold of traditional guitar making. Working with steel as the primary material, he produces guitars that are as unique in appearance as they are in tone.
Trussart is a musician-turned-luthier. The French native began his career as a fiddler, accompanying Cajun singer-songwriter Zachary Richard in the late '70s, before turning his attention to crafting violins and later guitars (in the 1980s). From his Los Angeles home and workshop (where he has resided since 2000), Trussart crafts custom steel-bodied guitars, basses, and violins in a dazzling array of finishes, reminiscent of shiny chrome resonator instruments and rusty, weathered, fossilized discarded machinery. The tone is so distinctive that Trussart guitars have become 'must-have' instruments in the arsenals of influential artists including Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, Billy Gibbons, Joe Walsh, Jack White, Charlie Sexton, Daniel Lanois, Marc Ribot, Peter Stroud (Sheryl Crow), Rich Robinson (Black Crowes), Sonny Landreth, Joe Perry, Tom Morello, Billy Corgan, The Roots, and many, many more.
Trussart's creations are designed to have the look and feel of a vintage instrument with the added appeal of metal construction. His "Rust-O-Matic" technique (a term coined by Billy Gibbons regarding Trussart's unique finishes) involves leaving the guitar body exposed to the elements for several weeks, allowing it to corrode before treating it to stop the corrosion. He then sands it to replicate years of distress, and then finishes it with a clear satin coat.
Many of the Trussart models feature patterns either engraved or literally imprinted into the metal bodies or on the pickguard or headstock. Engraved skulls, roses, and tribal art are some of the more common themes, while others feature textures of alligator skin or plant materials. He literally 'sandwiches' the metal with the alligator skin and lets it sit in water for several days.