Jim Macdonald cried when he read the message.

It took Jim Macdonald 1,000 hours to create the “Eat a Peach” guitar.

It was a private Facebook message from Warren “Skoots” Lyndon, younger brother of the original tour manager for the Allman Brothers Band. Macdonald, a guitar-maker from Burnham, had posted photos of his latest creation, a mahogany, ebony and silver nickel electric guitar inlaid with drawings of fairies and mushrooms inspired by the artwork from the band’s “Eat a Peach” album.

Lyndon wrote to Macdonald to say that he loved the guitar, and Macdonald, who grew up listening to the Allman Brothers and reveres the band still, was moved to tears.

“It got to the right people, in my mind,” Macdonald said. “I always pictured this guitar wanting to be down South, the home of Southern rock.”

Macdonald’s dream becomes a reality this week. He and his wife, Dorothy, departed Burnham on Monday to drive the art-guitar to Macon, Georgia, where it will become part of the collection of the Big House Museum, the official repository of Allman Brothers Band memorabilia. Macdonald raised $15,000 online to pay for the guitar and his trip to Georgia. He’ll present it to museum director Richard Brent on Saturday, during GABBA Fest, an annual jam hosted by the Georgia Allman Brothers Band Association.

In a phone interview, Brent said the museum receives a lot of gifts – “photos, art and what have you” – but it has never received such a finely crafted musical instrument. It will become part of a collection of working guitars in the museum to accommodate musicians who are passing through and want to jam, he said.

“It truly is an amazing instrument,” Brent said. “I have seen it and played it. It’s a great instrument. It looks good, and it sounds good. The main thing is the thought behind it, that someone cared that much to make such a great instrument and wanted it here. You can tell that 100 percent pure love and honesty went into it.”

Imitating the artwork inside the Allman Brothers’ “Eat a Peach” album, which included a detailed mural of mushrooms and fairies telling a story of happy musical brotherhood, Jim Macdonald re-created the artwork for the guitar by hand. He bumped up the scale to twice the original size and changed the placement of certain elements so they displayed better on the guitar’s surface. He hand-cut pieces of wood veneer and made the drawings using a knife-tipped wood-turning pen.

Macdonald, 59, has been making guitars since the 1980s as a sideline to his primary work as a maker of custom furniture and cabinets. He’s good at it – so good that he made custom instruments for guitar-maker Gibson. He began adding inlaid marquetry to his work in the 1990s, applying small pieces of veneer for decoration and distinction. About five years ago, he hung out his shingle as James Macdonald Custom Art Guitars and Woodworking.

The “Eat a Peach” guitar, he said, was the obvious project to tackle.

“I was 10 when I got ahold of my first Allman Brothers Band album,” Macdonald said. “I can remember putting it on and hearing the first notes – it was powerhouse. To me, the Allman Brothers were always sophisticated, powerful and grab-your-attention-and-don’t-let-you-go.”

As he began taking guitar lessons, Macdonald realized he wasn’t interested in what his guitar teacher was offering. “The Allman Brothers were loud, and I wanted to emulate that,” he said.

They’ve been his most important band since. “At Fillmore East” is probably his favorite Allman Brothers’ album, but “Eat a Peach” is right up there, and the artwork from “Eat a Peach” is both colorful and symbolic and translated well to marquetry. An artist named W. David Powell created the original art for the album, which was released in 1972 as a double LP. The inside of the album, which opened up like a book, included a detailed mural of mushrooms and fairies, telling a story of happy musical brotherhood. The mushrooms became the band’s enduring motif.

Macdonald re-created the artwork for the guitar by hand, bumping up the scale to twice the original size and changing the placement of certain elements so they displayed better on the guitar’s surface. He hand-cut pieces of wood veneer and made the drawings using a knife-tipped wood-turning pen. He spent about 1,000 hours making the guitar.

The effort was made especially worthwhile when Lyndon sent him the note on Facebook. They’ve since become buddies. Macdonald went to Macon last summer to meet Lyndon and Brent and see the museum. He brought the guitar with him.

It was a whirlwind weekend that included a Deep Purple concert in Atlanta, at which Lyndon introduced him to the band. At one point, Steve Morse, Deep Purple’s guitarist, played Macdonald’s guitar backstage, as did all the guitar techs.

“That was a moment I will never forget. Everybody was just tearing it up,” Macdonald said.

The next day at the Big House in Macon, Brent handed Duane Allman’s gold top Les Paul to Macdonald and invited him to play it. It’s one of the most famous guitars in rock history. Duane Allman purchased it in 1969 and perfected his slide-guitar style on it. It became his primary guitar on the first two Allman Brothers albums, and he also used it almost exclusively when he recorded the Derek & the Dominos’ “Layla” album.

Later, Lyndon took Macdonald to Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, where members of the band, including Duane and Gregg Allman and Berry Oakley, are buried. Lydon also showed him the grave marker for Elizabeth Reed, after whom the band named one of its songs.

The memory of playing Duane Allman’s guitar leaves Macdonald weak-kneed and befuddled. “I grew up on rock ‘n’ roll, and this is stuff you can’t even dream of,” he said.

Brent said he was impressed with Macdonald, as a person, as a craftsman and as a musician. “I realized right away he was somebody to be treated seriously,” Brent said. “When I put the guitar in my hand and played it, it was like, ‘This is a great instrument.’ It’s worthy of being in the Big House.”

Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: pphbkeyes

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