Wednesday, 31 December 2014

frets/fretboard 3

and now this

Rick Toone

Fretboard Flare

the more I thought about this design, the more I liked it. To my mind, memories of doing trills, hammer-ons and bends would have been much better with this design in my hands in my formative years.

you can read about it at the Rick Toone site

click here

frets/fretboard 2

personally, I find this topic a drag so I suppose I should get it out of the way as soon as possible


I started on a classical guitar so I became accustomed to having my fretboard dead flat. then I went onto a certain jangly guitar as used by some fab guitarists (I keep forgetting their name...) and not only was the neck so thin but so narrow, you couldn't compare the two. they were a million miles away from each other as far as design is concerned

then I purchased a custom guitar. I got it second hand, it had a Floyd Rose tremolo and some hot pickups but what I would regard as the best feature - the fretboard was dead flat.

now I suffer from WFS. I have all my life

Weeny Finger Syndrome

having a flat fretboard on an electric guitar was a dream come true. coupled with a thin neck and jumbo frets. the best cure for my syndrome known to man.

having experienced this design on an electric guitar, all other instruments I played from that day onwards felt odd. the trend of the day was thin necks and jumbo frets but every time I experienced that curve, no matter how slight, I felt like I was sinking in quick sand

plus if you are going to have a fretboard radius so slight, why not get rid of it altogether?

it's like some strange hangover when violin and cello builders also built guitars. I don't want to bow the damn thing, I want to pluck it or strum it.

I read this statement on the internet

"smaller radii (7.25–10") are said to be more comfortable for chord and rhythm playing, while larger radii (12"-16" and up to flat) are more appealing to fast soloing"

not in my experience.

but that is me. infinite radius works for me. maybe I can't defend anything else.

frets/fretboard 1

now this design exists in an instrument, in one form. I can't show it because the designer hasn't gotten back to me. I always thought it made sense,if it was done right. I had a chat with a few buddies brainstorming the concept and if you had the ability to remove the fretboard from the neck i.e make it detachable, it could be done.

let's start with the cross section of a traditional fret

has the tang that holds the fret in place

what I want is to incorporate the frets and the fretboard. make it out of aluminum or stainless steel

with cnc machines and the best quality materials you could make an accurate and durable fretboard.

and then scalloped frets. would be easy

treat the fretboard with anodizing and you will have something that is going to last a long time

no fret dressing and no frets falling out.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

don't try this at home?

now what we have before us is a design house

a deluge of designs without fear or favor.

that statement reflects the goal of this blog - to look at new guitar designs without fear or favor. whatever makes the guitar function in new ways, either in manufacture or playing, is the goal.

Obstructures. I know the topic is guitars but they do so much more

click here

having said that...

new guitar design in no way endorses having a guitar run over by a car or being set on fire

still, pretty good point as far as durability goes

but let's have a look at one of their instruments
0.750b Machined Aluminum Electric Guitar

I love the minimal nature of this instrument. neck through construction, volume and tone controls are in a unique place and the fretboard looks dead flat. Infinite radius - my favorite kind of radius.

one solid block of aluminum

to read more

click here

on the subject of durability

Rick Toone displaying a thin but durable neck. try doing this with a wooden neck.

why aren't there more builders or designers embracing materials other than wood? It seems so obvious to me that you are going to get a precision instrument that is immune to so many environmental issues.

like getting run over by a car.....

Monday, 29 December 2014

controls/electronics 5

so the guitar sound can be controlled via the use of computer software. if you see an earlier post, that is a fact but that was some time ago, what has happened since then?

maybe the question that needs to be asked is, what is happening now?

Livid Guitar Wing controller

works with its own software or in conjunction with your sequencer via Bluetooth. does all the things in the Wii video I posted earlier but so much more.

what I love about this device is the potential of it.

not just dumb filter sweeps but you can assign it to sequencer functions or external effects

those glorious words, "open ended"

I learnt tabla for many years and the first thing I thought about is using the pads to alter the tone/pitch/whatever rhythmically.

with an emphasis on whatever

go to the Livid site but moreover, have a look at their Youtube page for more information than I could possibly impart in this blog.

click here 

meanwhile here's a short video introduction

a lot of established ideas about playing the guitar have now become redundant

and it's about time.

body revisited 4

now I am going to talk more about this designer, but I thought I'd get this video up ASAP because I love watching the process. hope you do too.

in the meanwhile, go to KOZM guitars and have a look around

click here


Sunday, 28 December 2014

bridge 12

I can remember the first time I saw the original Steinberger bass. headless and had that balancing wing. looked like something from outer space. then came the guitars and then a tremolo that would become a coveted item throughout the land

the Trans Trem

now this is a very fortunate situation because we have an image of the latest incarnation of this tremolo arm

actually, we have two

not only could it transpose all strings up (F# and G) but down as well (D C and B)

as well as make some interesting pedal steel effects whilst bending and holding down a chord  

the bodies of the original guitars were made from carbon fiber and featured no truss rod. the no truss rod idea sent the head of your average guitar player spinning like a top. I admit that I had a hard time coming to terms with it myself

then I played a six string GL with Trans Trem and all my doubts disappeared. another thing that really impressed me was the on off switches for the pickups. so you could have each individual, bridge and middle, neck and middle, bridge and neck or all on at once. never experienced all on at once before and it really was versatile.

the thing I love about Ned Steinberger is that he has never rested on his hands. never stood still in the field of design

go have a look at what Ned is doing now and read up on the history of this amazing designer

NS Design

click here

thank you to NS design for providing me with these images.

Friday, 26 December 2014

body revisited 3

this gives me an excuse to talk about an important topic

but first let's look at an example

Goulding Guitars

Voodoo Haze

 aside from being made from aluminum, that is one fine looking guitar

the "sound hole" of this semi acoustic almost has a resonator guitar quality to it.

unique to the designer

and with that we come to the legal term "design flair"

first off, I will site the example of a certain jangly 12 string guitar manufacturer and their guitars used by a member of a fab group in the sixties. You know, there were four of them. now what is their name again?

the 12 string in question had tuners pointing outward and away from the headstock, eliminating the need for a long, or six tuners a side, headstock.

the concept had been used in pedal steel guitars for some time but had not been implemented on the guitar.

but that is not what the issue is here

the shape of the headstock, although not a trademark in its own right is a part of the design flair, is unique to that manufacturer. although it goes in no way to assist in the function of the instrument, it is a constant design feature of that manufacturer.

hence the term, "design flair"

If I asked you to think of guitar head stocks in relation to the following words


probably the first thing that comes to mind is the inherent shape of those head stocks. The design is the builder's calling card.

legally, how do I feel about this?

there could be a fine line between flair and function (see guitar above).
some designers/builders/manufacturers have deeper wallets and better lawyers than others
being pro active and trying to secure your rights in relation to said laws are prohibitively expensive

my conclusion is one of hopeless optimism

I am not on the side of the "little guy", I am on the side of the "specific guy".

all the people I have sited in this blog since I began it. 

bringing forth new ideas without fear or favor 

if these people cannot be defended, then we can't advance

having said all that, go have a look around at the Goulding Guitars website

a deluge of instruments and ideas

click here

Thursday, 25 December 2014

controls/electronics 4


here we go.

I have had my head turned around 3600 degrees in the last month and I crave new guitar design

there is so much I can say, and will say in the future, about this builder and, of course, his designs

maybe I should mention the two previous topics - body and bridge

so much needs to be covered

let's start with this

Myka Guitars

2011 Custom Scorpion

electric guitar, fair enough. fanned fret, semi acoustic, scalloped fretboard and eight strings. I think I can see an output or two, but where are the controls?

you'd better sit down

so on six strings we have piezo midi going to a hex output and a two way switch for patch selection.
the eight string pickup is split 6 electric and 2 bass. with outputs and volume/tone controls for both.
The one thing I need good advices on is the 5 way switch. too many possibilities to comment on.

quoting sponge bob square pants "I'm so happy, I can't feel my legs"

breathtaking. controls at the closest possible access point for the player. amazing thinking

so you want pickup switching options? I knew something like this would happen and I was a silly to open my big mouth about it.

2010 Myka Electric Black

controls close up

signal path

Concentric Volume and Tone, 3-way per pickup, plus Master Volume

    Switching: 5-way:
        1. Neck
        2. Neck and Bridge in parallel
        3. Neck and Bridge in series
        4. Neck and Bridge out of phase
        5. Bridge

    Switching: 3-way Middle Pickup:
        1. Add Middle
        2. Middle Bypass
        3. Middle Blower

     3-way for each pickup:
        1. HB series
        2. Coil tap
        3. HB parallel

     Tone 3-way for each pickup:
        1. Custom Cap-1
        2. Tone bypass
        3. Custom Cap-2

    Additional Switching: Bridge pickup blower

so you want switching options? plus it has a bridge blower. whatever you have set up on the guitar amidst the HUNDREDS of options you have in any other position, this switch goes straight to the bridge pickup.

had enough?

now this is a body topic but, don't worry, lots of electronics here.

2012 Custom Ergonomic Baritone Electric



quoting Myka,

"In a seated position the adjustable foot allows the guitar to be propped up into your preferred playing angle and it will stay there when you take your hands away to operate a keyboard or mouse"


imagine if the previous guitar had a hex pickup on it. too much information!!

to give these guitars justice. here are the page links to each 

2011 Custom Scorpion

click here 

2010 Myka Electric Black

click here 

2012 Custom Ergonomic Baritone Electric

click here

the Myka Guitars home page

click here 

I have only covered three of many great instruments and designs. there is so much more. you will love it.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

controls/electronics 3

did I say that the controls and or electronics actually had to be IN the guitar?

look at this

using MAX/MSP, Robert here is adding effects to his guitar with a Wii remote

what is MAX/MSP?

the best way I could describe it that it is an sonic manipulation environment. you bring modules together to control other modules, via your sequencer or even on it's own to manipulate sound. of course, as seen here, it can connect to a wireless controller amongst a myriad of things.

i love how the movement of the player changes the sound. I wonder if Leon Theremin had this in mind for future projects.

want to know about MAX/MSP?

go to the Cycling 74 site

there will be more on this topic soon, but I thought I'd get the ball rolling with a quick video demonstration of what is not only possible, but available.

with some software, a guitar and a Wii remote

thanks to Robert for allowing me to share

controls/electronics 2

so in this brave new world where I think I want all the oysters ( I never understood that phrase "the world is your oyster", I can think of plenty of other things I want the world to be besides oysters, especially if it were mine)

what controls and switching systems would I want for my dreams to come true?

I am a humbucker/single coil/humbucker person, but that is sort of wrong because my middle pickup, although it may be small, is actually a dual bladed humbucker. gives a middle position Strat tone without all the hum.

on my other electric I have a guitar synthesizer pickup. I can hear the groans now but this is new guitar design land and I make the rules! pay attention!

let's stop for a photo break. 3 Conklin guitars

quoting the web page
"We developed this 7 channel stereo panning system in 1992 which enabled the player to pan each string anywhere in the stereo spectrum for wicked effects on stage or in the studio"

a guitar going through seven amps on stage. this is beyond my wildest dreams. maybe set the speakers up for 7.1 surround mode.

mow more of this later but note the date. 1992. 

next up, quoting the web page once again

"Sidewinder 8 string guitar; this one a solid body from 98, with fanned frets, a hand-milled compensated tremolo, piezo pickups and on-board MIDI electronics"

 so we have a few options here. 

electric guitar sound
piezo acoustic sound
guitar synth sound

plus featuring fanned frets and a tremolo. this is the ultimate goal.

plus they made a hollow body 8 string version

made in 2000. it makes me think about how we have advanced in the last decade. hmm....

it is not lost on me, but look at all the volume and tone controls. let alone the switching system

now if I asked them, I am sure that Conklin could add switching for pickup configurations like series, parallel and series/parallel

but until I am given the tools, here is my goal

five way pickup switch
a three way switch that selects synth only, guitar only or both synth and guitar
one guitar volume pot
one guitar tone pot
one synth volume pot
one guitar output jack
one synth guitar output cable

plus one extra switch. a throwback to my telecaster days

the ability to select the bridge and neck pickups in parallel, removing the middle pickup from the signal path altogether

is that enough of a palette for the new guitar design aspirant at this point?

maybe I am wrong. could be a glorious mistake. I had some series/parallel switching systems put on my guitar. didn't work for me, not to say that I wouldn't look at again in the future. when i got some new pickups with a humbucker/humbucker(sic)/humbucker set up on my guitar, I was happy. the two humbuckers have coil taps on them to give single coil tones.

it works for me

maybe reducing things to a minimal function is of merit.

don't know about Conklin guitars?

click here and have a look around

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

controls/electronics 1

I feel somewhat remiss because I have had a chat with Saul Koll some time ago.

this could be one of the best excuses to talk about body shapes.

but also about players that ripped my head off when I first heard them.

of course, there is the topic.

controls and related electronics.

look at this.

The Conipulator.

look at this video

one of my true guitar heroes. David Torn. not only has he put out an amazing array of solo albums, he has toured with and produced Bill Bruford and has produced one of the greatest Jeff Beck albums ever - Jeff.

as per the video, the Conipulator has an inbuilt speaker connected to a momentary switch that ENCOURAGES feedback, a switch that generates a sixty cycle hum that reacts to string pitch and a switch that turns recordings going INTO the guitar ON.

Coupled with David Torn's real time sampling skills, there is one recording I can recommend

Prezens - track one alone.

Blues for the year 8 million.

Now the feedback and the audio input may be inspired, the sixty cycle hum appears in another instrument

The Teuffel Tesla

let's have a look at the first build by Saul Koll for David Torn

The Tornado

the three buttons and the speaker

now I have to show you another guitar and it's player.

a fanned fret version of the Koll RE7 and Elliott Sharp

let's look at some pictures some other versions

one fanned fret - one not

but seven string/ergonomic/hollow body

I got a Carbon album by Elliott Sharp some years ago and it made me think about not only different tunings but insane tunings. about an insane approach to those tunings
plus he has this blues project called Terraplane. 

confront yourself with sound. I did and I loved it

go to the Koll Guitars website

click here

both traditional and modern players and traditional and modern design.

I really wanted to start this topic with a blast.

as much as I admire the device and the player, this goes way beyond the momentary kill switch of Buckethead.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

here's a thought

some time ago I got jumbo frets installed on my Steinberger GL hard tail. I was sure one happy camper. the buzz about at that time was stainless steel frets. I suggested that in the future I would like them installed on all my guitars.

after a few expletives the technician in question flatly stated "after all the trouble i went to dressing the frets on your Steinberger, there is NO WAY I am going to put stainless steel ones in!"

everybody calm down, I have known this cranky chap for some time, so the marriage isn't over just yet.

but even in these early days, this goes to the heart of the POINT of this blog

new guitar design - meaning?

1. the latest and the best materials available to a builder
2. the number of variables available to a builder in the form of devices used in various aspects of this thing we call a guitar
3. the ability to re-examine the form and function of a guitar
4. it has been pointed out to me that with the technology today, be it the drawing tools or the machine tools we can build instruments with an accuracy down to the micron.
5. and finally, with the technology at our disposal, we can automate certain practices. a Plek fret dressing machine comes to mind

maybe i should put an addendum on point 5

incorporating design features that completely AVOID or do away with guitar design practices that frankly, have become redundant

there is one thing that comes to mind but I am not going there until we start talking about fret boards.

so hang in there, the best is yet to come

Saturday, 20 December 2014

bridge 11

three distinct elements. 

one amazing tuning system.let's take a look at all of them, alone and on one instrument

first up a bridge that you can adjust with a coin.

this is the essence of simple and effective design. can be used on it's own or in combination with this

Positional Constant String Pitch Control System™

best described at this link 

click here 

and finally

the intonation adjustable nut. this is at the TOP of my wish list.

best described at this link 

click here

 let's have a look at a guitar with all these elements in place


now I'd like to say that Rick Toone is one of the major people who inspired me to start this blog.

if you go to his site and look at the the archives, inspiration doesn't BEGIN to describe his efforts

to say that there is a lot of guitar design going on there is a savage understatement. 

go to instruments




see you in approximately six months

all devices are precision made to exact tolerances. with the best materials available.

watch the video below to see the elements of these amazing designs in action.

bridge 10

we have nearly come to the end of the bridge section and technology 4 musicians just got back to me.

time for some detailed pictures

here is the tremolo bridge to die for!

can be used for fanned fret guitars. i love this a lot. plus i love the notice on the photo, "to be updated". for an individual looking at new guitar design, those are the sweetest words ever spoken.

so how are the strings clamped at the other end?

the individual pieces are clamped with a screw and the string is held down with an Allen thread. It looks elegant when in action. As in this Michael Sankey guitar.

look at that. nothing short of stunning.

T4M also make two non tremolo versions

one with a base plate

and individual units directly mounted

but one of the most impressive things about this designer is that they have constructed a replica of the Steinberger GL guitar. As a tribute to the instrument that changed their way of thinking

and they made it not only using their products but entirely out of aluminum! brilliant.

the T4M site has provided me with a great deal of materials, links to builders and insights into what is possible.'

go to their site and be sure and click on gallery to see many guitar designs

i would personally like to thank Alberto at T4M for his kind words