Outside the box


The Spalt "Twist" - TTHSTK


"TTHSTK" ('TunedTorsionHeadstock'  TM - Pat. Appl. For) 


Combining the construction principles of the air screw of a plane and the torsion bar suspension of a Porsche 911, I developed  this breakthrough design as a new way to keep a straight string path, an optimized string angle, and a controlled deflection under tension.  The lines of the neck are extended beyond the nut, creating an elegant, sleek and streamlined appearance.  


There have been countless variations on the design of guitar and bass headstocks, each with its own advantages and drawbacks.  With the  TTHSTK I offer a new solution, improving the functionality and performance of string resonance beyond the nut, string tension and tuning stability - a unique, visually distinct design - a perfect example of function flowing into form.


The 'Twist' features a Wenge neck, 25 1/2" scale, mounted into a flame Koa body.  Ebony fingerboard w/ red bone markers and nut.  The armrest and electronics pod are adjustable to allow the player to optimize the playing position.  An extendable strap rod ensures perfect balance when using a strap. 


Hipshot locking tuners with barrel knobs

Joe Barden SC in the neck, Two/Tone HB in the bridge.  3-way switch vol w/push/pull, tone

Original Steinberger locking tremolo with spring claw anchored at the neck heel

Dunlop Straplocks


TG 1903 Travelguitar

Pearwood body

Wenge detachable body wings

Maple neck w/Ebony fingerboard, 26" scale

Spalt BoneTop in neck

Vol, tone

Hipshot headless bridge and nut

Dunlop Straplocks


TG 1901 Travelguitar

Alder body

w/detachable Wenge extensions

Maple neck w/Katalox fingerboard, 25 ½" scale

Hipshot headless system, bridge&nut

Seymour Duncan P-Rails bridge 

Seymour Duncan Vintage Rails neck

3-way switch, vol, tone w/push-pull for P-Rails split

Dunlop Strap locks


TG 1902 Travelguitar

Pearwood body

Maple neck

Body wings (detachable) Wenge

Macassar Ebony fingerboard, 25 1/2" scale

Hipshot headless hardware

BoneTop P-90 pickup

Vol, tone

Dunlop Straplocks

TG 1801 Travel Guitar

Pearwood body

Wenge body wings (detachable)

Limba neck

Bloodwood fingerboard, 25 ½" scale

BoneTop P-90 style

Vol, tone

ABR bridge

ETS tuners and headpiece

Dunlop Straplocks

Fits in suitcase or airplane overhead bin


The Medusa line

Strategically carved hollows in back relieve the weight of the body while retaining stability and ergonomic comfort.  The tone opens up and rings fully, with a nice chime.

Peacock Blue

Honduran Mahogany weight relieved body

Wood veneer top

Flame Maple neck, medium C

Bocote fingerboard, 25 ½" scale

10" -12" radius, Bone nut, 42mm

22 Dunlop 6150 Frets

Gotoh vintage style tuners

Lindy Fralin Pure PAF humbuckers

Hipshot fixed bridge

CTS pots, Orange Drop cap and 3-way switch

Dunlop Straplocks

3.2 kg

Grey wolf

Mahogany weight relieved body

Wood veneer top

Flame Maple neck, medium fat D

Indian Rosewood fingerboard, 25 ½" scale

10" - 12" radius, 22 Dunlop 6150 frets

2-way truss rod, bone nut 1 5/8" 

Gotoh vintage style tuners

Lollar mini-humbucker in neck position

Lollar Imperial humbucker in bridge position

CTS pots and Orange Drop cap, 3-way switch

Dunlop Straplocks

3.2 kg - rich, chimey sound

Tania Model - first prototype

Framire weight-relieved body

Wood veneer top

Flame Maple neck, medium D

Indian Rosewood fingerboard, 25 1/2" scale

10-12" radius, 22 frets Dunlop 6150 fretwire

2-way truss rod, bone nut, 42mm

Gotoh vintage style tuners

Wilkinson compensated Tele bridge

Pickups: Joe Barden Tele combination

CTS pots and Orange Drop cap, 3-way switch

Dunlop Straplocks

2.7kg - bright snappy sound

Eventually changed the bridge and the pickups for a better tone balance - Lindy Fralin Stock tele combination, and solid brass bridge.

the 'JD'

This commission was of the 'the wilder the better' kind.  I had a pair of vintage John Birch (English luthier) pickups and an idea I had been kicking around for a while.  The result is this guitar - a bit of a conceptual tour de force even for me...


text & work images

the 624 line

The 624 line was inspired by 'Ruby 624'.  I made a custom mold for the aluminum element and had it cast.  The guitars have a chambered Mahogany body with a deep tenon set neck.  The slightly offset shape is designed to look best slung low, as stage guitar.


Click here for work images

'Ruby 624'

I had this old aluminum decorative piece for a while until I decided to fashion a guitar around it.  The reissue of the Bigsby B-16 tremolo gave me the opening I was looking for.  The piece (stamped 'Ruby 624' in the back) became the centerpiece and was fitted with a vintage DeArmond humbucker.  The body top is Wenge, with a Purpleheart centerstripe and Abalone purfling which also extends along the sides of the fingerboard.


Mahogany body w/Wenge top

Mahogany neck w/Ebony fingerboard

24 ¾" scale, 22 Dunlop 6150 frets

Gotoh vintage style locking tuners

Fralin Pure PAF BoneTop set

Vol, tone, 3-way

ABR bridge

Bigsby B5 tremolo

Dunlop Straplocks


624 Raw

Spruce top over Mahogany body

Mahogany neck, Macassar Ebony fingerboard

24 ¾" scale, 22 Dunlop 6150 frets, 10"-12"radius

Gotoh vintage style locking tuners

Spalt BoneTop P-90 in neck & bridge

Vol, tone w/ push-pull for series  mode

3-way switch

ABR bridge, Bigsby B5 tremolo

Dunlop Straplocks

624 Burst

Flame Maple top over Mahogany body

Mahogany neck, Ebony fingerboard

24 ¾" scale, 22 Dunlop 6150 frets, 10"-12"radius

Gotoh vintage style locking tuners

Spalt BoneTop P-90 in neck

Lollar Imperial in bridge

Vol, tone, 3-way switch

ABR bridge, Bigsby B5 tremolo

Dunlop Straplocks

624 BT

The top, fingerboard and headstock overlay are made from Bloodwood - an appropriate name for the rich red color of this wood.  The back is old-stock Mahogany with a centerstripe of laminated flame Maple and Rosewoood.  The neck is Mahogany.  A Bigsby B-16 and two 'BoneTop' pickups along with Gotoh vintage style locking tuners are fitted.

This 624 is equipped with two Lollar Imperials (low wind neck) along with a Bigsby B-5.  The top is Zebrawood and the fingerboard Wenge.  The body and neck are old stock Mahogany. 3.4kg 7lbs8oz

624 HBm

A Cocobolo top and fingerboard grace this 624.  This one has a Lollar minihumbucker in the neck position, for a clearer, more transparent tone.

Frankie's 624

Korina Neck and Body.  Rosewood fingerboard, 25 ½" scale.  Aluminum casting from a second run done in Austria.  Gotoh vintage style tuners, ABR bridge, Bigsby B5, SD 59/JB humbucker combination.  Vol, tone, 3-way switch. Dunlop Straplocks.

'Don Ramsay Linear Tremolo' Custom 27

This guitar was originally designed for my friend Tommy Aguilar, a talented amp builder (Apache Amps).  It has a 27" scale Rosewood neck with flame Rosewood fingerboard, and chambered Mahogany body with a figured Goncalo top.  The neck and bridge pickups were originally vintage Gibson pickups, but I later replaced them with Lollars.  The tremolo on this guitar is a Don Ramsay 'Linear tremolo'.  It is an amazing unit, jewel-like, running on precision linear bearings, without friction or wobble.  Due to the design, its range is also adjustable, from light warble to dive.  Strung with 11's and tuned to D this guitar sounds rich and throaty.  It is now part of Henry Kaiser's collection.

Cale 1

After using the original Totemguitar G 0404 'Puzzle' for some time, John Cale asked me to make something closer to the old Les Paul Special he loved so much.  This guitar has an all-Mahogany set-neck construction with two humbuckers and a Bigsby bridge. The humbuckers can be split individually via push-pull switches on the volume and tone knobs, giving a wide range of sounds.

Cale 2

John Cale had seen a Don Ramsay 'linear tremolo' at my shop and was intrigued by it.  He asked me to make a guitar for him along the lines of the last one, but with a linear tremolo instead of the Bigsby.  The linear tremolo combines smooth, adjustable action with extreme tuning stability.  I also moved the pickup switching to two switches on the top, foregoing the push-pull type, which had proven cumbersome on the road. 

Cale 3, 12-string protoType

Happy with his 'linear tremolo' guitar, John Cale expressed his desire for a 12-string with tremolo.  This created some technical issues (tuning stability, intonation).  Working with Don Ramsay we adapted his 'linear tremolo' design for 12-strings.  I extended the neck block all the way to the bridge, gluing it from the back into the flame Redwood body, to optimize coupling.  The guitar worked well, but proved too neck-heavy, due to the long neck, 12 tuners and very light body.  I installed a strap-button extension which helped.  We liked it well enough, but decided it needed some improvements, so I went back to the design table. 

The 'John Cale' 12-string

This is the final version of the "John Cale" 12-string.  The neck is set slightly deeper into the body, with the horn extending further for better balance.  The body is carved out with chambers and a trough for the neck block which extends all the way to the tremolo posts, anchoring the trem there.  The Top is flame Redwood, light and resonant.  Since the body is still relatively light, I used Sperzel Open Back tuners to help improve the balance.  The tuner knobs alternate (black pearl for low strings, white pearl for high strings), to help orientation when tuning.  The guitar has a rich chimey sound - a Lollar minihumbucker in the neck position and Imperial full-size humbucker in the bridge, along with bridge humbucker-split and phase switch allow for a lot of tonal variation.


For images of the construction process click here.