Vintage Design and Modern Material
In the world of guitar the greatest advances often appear to involve outboard equipment – amplifiers, effects pedals, pre-amps – aside from incorporating digital technologies guitar design itself seems locked within a paradigm that struggles to free itself from the past or make any truly radical departures from its historically rich tradition.
Evolution of the Guitar
The guitar has evolved significantly in many areas but remained almost frozen, stubbornly resistant to change in others. In 1992 the Parker Fly guitar marked a radical departure from tradition with a distinctive, futuristic bodyshape wrapped within a skin of carbon and glass: it was no surprise that artists as unique as King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew and Living Colour’s Vernon Reid adopted Parker’s new machine.
Parker’s pioneering adoption of new materials is now a more widely embraced notion across the guitar manufacturing spectrum. New materials yield new design, manufacturing, tonal and sonic capabilities that some guitar makers are keen to exploit.
Here are some guitars made from unusual materials: recycled, environmentally friendly, resins and carbon fibre.
ODD is a project begun by Olaf Diegel a professor of Mechatronics at Massey University in Auckland New Zealand. ODD focusses upon designing products with advanced 3D printing technologies. One of ODD’s projects is the ATOM 3D electric guitar. The Atom is a Les Paul style guitar and the prototypes so far are offering Langcaster and Seynour Duncan ’59 pickups with bolt on necks.
The guitar bodies are made from DURAFORM PA a strong form of nylon at a resolution of 0.1mm. There is an inner core within each guitar (Mahogany, Alder or Maple) to give the guitars distinctive tones. ODD have also produced a spider guitar, manufactured in one single piece, which incorporates tiny spiders within its weblike body. The ODD website is here.
XOX Handle Guitar
XOX audio tools have pushed guitar design a little further into the future with a focus upon modern materials. The Handle is a guitar with a carbon fibre monochassis, acoustically chambered to deliver lossless acoustics whilst being super light and indestructible. The XOX has a carbon fibre neck and a composite fretboard together with DiMarzio PAF pro pickups and a Blending control rather than a selector. The XOX wesbite is here.
Perhaps the one of the most beautiful guitars, the Mada guitar is an organically shaped semi-acoustic guitar made from hemp pulp. Unlike traditional guitars the Mada guitar is not carved or milled nor does the body require linings or bracings. The Mada guitar is a single Hempstone shape which has no edges and so the body develops “an unmistakable, wonderful sharp and organic sound.”
The Mada guitar range is available in a wide range of vivid and bright colours as well as more restrained mustard and wood tones. The Mada guitars website is here.
We will be looking at many more innovative, modern and beautiful guitars so come back soon, subscribe to our RSS feed or sign up for our newsletter in the top right corner of the page.
Analogue versus Digital
Recently many guitar manufacturers have embraced the advantages of digital technology with Gibson, Line 6 and Fender offering digital guitars with differing capabilities:
1. Gibson Firebird X and Robot guitar
2. Fender G-5 Stratocaster with Roland COSM