Jan 27, 2013
Wow… so the first few days of NAMM have been a rollicking rollercoaster ride filled with more strings than you can throw a string factory at – on Pre-show day we discovered some cool new upgrades to the Sterling by Music Man line, while on Day 1 we saw some blingtastic PRS guitars, the EBMM Armada guitars with their outlandish V-shaped top, and more! Day 2 saw the rise of the shred machines, with a look at Caparison’s new C2 line, as well as an extended range monster from Ibanez – a freaking 9 string!
Breeding acoustic love
Even acoustic guitars can be pointy – check out this cool double Florentine cutaway acoustic from Breedlove. The techie engineer in me is a big fan of the gear inlays.
Flame, quilt, this guitar has got it all… but um, pity it’s on the backside of the guitar.
“We built Jet City… we built Jet City on rock and roll!”
Pint sized rock and roll, that is! Behold the “Jettenuator”… as the name suggests I’m going to go ahead and guess it’s an attenuator, designed by Mike Soldano and then produced by Jet City at an affordable price point. I’m interested in finding out a bit more about these!
And here’s a shiny amp with a digital readout for the knob settings. Is this a new design aesthetic for Jet City amps?
Self explanatory, I hope.
Ovation goes a little bit fancy
James Tussart Custom Guitars – HOLY FRAK
Here are a few things I love – metal, steampunk, and paisley. Put those three together and you get James Tussart’s creations. First I am going to blow your freaking mind with this SteelTopCaster in rusty gold paisely… then let’s learn a little about the mastermind behind these amazing looking guitars.
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.“I’ve always liked the look and feel of old guitars, believing them to have a life beyond that of their creator, and I wanted to somehow emulate that effect of age and history on my own guitars. I wanted to make a guitar that came with a history and a slight element of neglect, of decay, so it had a personality of its own.”
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.
Various pickup options are offered, but standard fare is Arcane Inc. Custom Pickups that are built specifically for the Trussart guitars and basses. Neck options offered are the classic radius and shape guaranteed to fit the most demanding player’s needs.
And the sound? Former Guitar Player magazine editor and guitarist Joe Gore (Tom Waits, PJ Harvey, Tracy Chapman) summed the distinguishing tone of Trussart’s Steelcaster with the following rave:“I literally believe this guitar makes me play better. I love the combination of ultra-articulate attack and full-bodied sustain. It’s almost as if one is playing through a high-quality compressor, only without sacrificing a shred of transient impact. The subtle metallic resonance – that extra midrange peachiness – telegraphs articulation details. I play predominantly with my bare fingers, and I’ve never before encountered an electric guitar that communicates the texture of skin, nail, and combinations therof with such breathtaking immediacy. I also find myself better able to ‘shape’ notes. I think that’s due to a combination of the guitar’s innate sustain, the perfect fretwork, the way subtle neck bends compliment finger vibrato, and the gratifying ‘feedback loop’ created when the metal body hums against your chest.”
Carvin – Jason Becker signature model
Jason Becker is a huge inspiration to anyone who’s ever heard of his story. Struck down by ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease in the prime of his life, Jason went from being the guitarist with the most raw talent the world had ever seen, to becoming confined to a wheelchair in his late 20s. Against all odds, Jason survives today and continues to make music using his most powerful tool – his mind. Carvin pays a very apt tribute to Jason with this signature model, based on the Carvin guitar that Jason favoured back in the day.
If you haven’t heard about Jason Becker before, check out the Jason Becker movie – Not Dead Yet. I’ve finally ordered the DVD and am so excited to be able to watch it soon. Keep on fighting, Jason.
Looks like Carvin is joining the extended range scene with a flamin’ 8 string!
Another beautiful extended range guitar – a California Carved Top 7, though I guess in the age of 8 (and soon, 9??) strings, a 7 string is hardly a novelty these days!
Um… no clue who these guys are. When I tried to look them up, their website was a confusing mess of template Latin, which to me is just a bit sloppy.
But hey, they make what looks like hot-rod inspired guitars in colourful colours. Err… kudos?
Grover Jackson 2 – the return of Grover Jackson??
Looks like Grover is no longer content in letting FMIC do things in his name (I guess he probably doesn’t even own the rights to it anymore) and is striking out on his own, with a thoroughly un-memorable brand name – GJ2.
A quick look shows nothing to write home about, with slightly-altered Rhoads, Strat, and singlecut bodies making up the bulk of the designs on display.
A new Floyd?!
What’s this??? As a longtime lover and user of Floyd Rose double locking systems, this intrigues me immensely. Is it a drop-in bridge that finally overcomes the need for heaps of routing of precious tonewood out of guitars? Or am I completely wrong, and is it a whole new animal? The back end of it looks rather Bigsby-ish in design. I’m pretty interested in finding out more about these.
That’s all I’ve got for Day 2 at the moment – don’t forget to check back for updates, and we’ll see you in the final installment!