Special projects


'Twister'

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


Twist 2

Wenge neck-trough

Pearwood body cap

Wenge body wings

25 ½" scale

Hipshot locking tuners w/ barrel knobs

BoneTop P-90 style pickups

Vol, tone w/ push-pull for series mode, 3-way switch

Hipshot fixed bridge

Dunlop Straplocks


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


'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.


UFO-Bass

A fun commission - anything goes, with a Sci-Fi theme.  Bassist Norbert Zucker sent me a little green man and asked me to design something wild.  The result is the UFO-Bass.  The body and neck are Padouk, with a Redwood Burl top on the body.  A polished aluminum handle/strap holder and aluminum control plate complete the design.  The armrest contains the "capsule" for the alien traveller, set in resin.  The combination of a Hipshot Bass Tremolo with the Sustainiac make for some otherworldly sounds.

 

 

Norbert's battle rig

 


The John Cale project

A friend brought me one of John Cale's guitars for a repair.  He showed him some of my work and John was intrigued.  He had been thinking for a while for a tour replacement for his prized vintage LP Special and so he commissioned a guitar from me - a Totemguitar.  Eventually he found he wanted something closer to a LP type guitar and this led to a series of guitars I made for him.

 

Click here for Gallery 


'MandoSinks'

A bit of a tour de force, this mandolin was commissioned by John Sinks, engineer and tech for Robert Fripp/King Crimson.  It has a 13-pin hexaphonic output in addition to a customized Bigsby tremolo, a Seymour Duncan mini humbucker, piezos, a Sustainiac and Sperzel locking tuners.  Body and neck are Mahogany with a lightly aged nitrocellulose finish.


The Travelguitar line

A small weight-relieved body with ergonomically detachable extensions and a headless design make for a full-size playing experience. Fits in most suitcases or airplane overhead bins.

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

 

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 w/gold leaf applications

Maple neck

Body wings (detachable) Wenge

Macassar Ebony fingerboard, 25 1/2" scale

Hipshot headless hardware

BoneTop P-90 pickup

Vol, tone

Dunlop Straplocks


Thuya style bass

Hybrid bass with double articulating armrest and strap extension.   I started building this bass about 8 years ago while still in L.A..  Originally the center section and the lower wing were of a single piece.  This was visually less-than-satisfying and gave the bass an unbalanced apprearance.  Other projects intruded and the bass remained in this form until now, after our move to Vienna.  Looking at it again recently the solution finally occured to me -  separate the electronics pod and as bonus add an additional measure of adjustability.  By now well-seasoned, the rich hues of the Thuya burl mesh well with the sheen of aluminum, with the long strap extension adding a dramatic note.  Both in the sitting position and standing it is comfortable and well-balanced.

 

Neck-through design, Walnut/Maple laminate.  Rosewood fingerboard, 34" scale.  Two-way truss rod.  Body wings Ash, topped with Thuya burl.  Center section topped with Thuya burl and Wenge accents.  Removable legrest of aluminum and Thuya burl.  All aluminum parts are hand-shaped and polished from T6-6061 aluminum billet.  Bartolini Music Man pickup, switchable parallel/series, Sustainiac circuit, Hipshot tremolo and tuners.  Noll TCMP-3 preamp, Dunlop Straplocks.

 

The arm rest can be moved along its rotating axis as well as lifted or lowered along the body-center axis for maximum adjustability. The lower wing containing the electronics can also be moved for preferred placement of the controls.  This has turned out to be a remarkable instrument with a clear punchy sound and great sustain (even without the Sustainer).  The Sustainer in conjunction with the tremolo adds a whole new dimension to what can be done with a bass! 

 


The vViper project

 I devised the 'wiper' pickup arm to be able to move the pickup back and forth and built the bass around this feature.  Moving the pickup all the way to the front will approximate a typical P-bass position, the middle will have more of a MusicMan character while the rear position is close to the bridge pickup in a Jazz Bass.  There are infinite positions between these, each yielding a different tonal character.  The pickup can be moved easily, or locked down in a favorite position.  A friction screw can be adjusted according to personal preference.  A further advantage of a single pickup vs. the blending of two pickups lies in the fact that there are no phase cancellations.  The wider arc on top actually compensates for a lesser change in tonal character in the lower strings vs. the higher strings.

 

 

Click here for the vViper Gallery


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.

Tania Model - first prototype

Framire weight-relieved body

Wood veneer top

Flame Maple neck, medium D

Indian Rosewood fingerboard, 25 1/2" scale

 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

Peacock Blue

Honduran Mahogany weight relieved body

Wood veneer top

Flame Maple neck, medium C

Bocote fingerboard, 25 ½" scale

 

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

 

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


'the beast'

The 'beast' was built to the rather exact specifications of the client.  The neck-through construction consists of a Zebrawood/Purpleheart center section with Zebrawood body wings.  The neck is divided into a 34" scale bass side and a 25 1/2" treble side.  The two fingerboards are Bocote.  A headstock machined from aluminum crowns the neck.  The fretless bass side is headless, with ABM tuners and a custom made bridge with Graph-Tech piezo saddles.  A Bartolini vViper pickup and a Sustainiac comprise the electronics.  The treble side, four courses of strings, are also fitted with a Sustainiac, piezos in the bridge and a P-bass style singlecoil.  The treble strings run to the tuners on the headstock. 

manual page
manual page

The wiring proved to be a major enterprise.  Combining the various signal sources while ensuring a good power supply and minimizing interference took some figuring out.  The 'beast' feeds a 13-pin output along with 1/4" outputs.  Operating the 'beast' requires a manual, even though the knobs are grouped according to function - there are controls for the mag signal preamp, two Sustainiacs, the piezos and the hexaphonic output.

 

The intent was to create an instrument which can be played with a two-handed tapping technique, with the courses providing shimmering sound 'washes' under the bass side leads.   Running the two necks into separate amps provides additional tone-shaping options.


The Anand Project

Some years ago I had made a custom instrument for Anand Bennet with fanned frets and special tuning to accomodate his playing style.  Now Anand asked me to make a full set of instruments for him - from a small, mandolin size to a full size bass, all specially designed for his unique playing style. 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here for a closer look


Introducing the "TOOL"

A new line of guitars for the road or studio with a wide variety of sounds.  

These guitars feature a special pickup combination I've developed a while ago but that to date has only been installed in very special custom instruments.  Two specially matched P-90 style Spalt BoneTop pickups in the bridge/middle position are controlled via a 4-way switch, giving you either coil or both in parallel or series wiring.  The resulting selection is then mixed via the 3-way in the upper bout with the neck pickup.  9 sound options are intuitively accessible on the fly. 

 

 

TOOL prototype #1

Basswood body

Maple neck, Rosewood fingerboard, 24 ¾" scale

3 BoneTop pickups, volume, tone, 4-way rotary and 3-way switch

ABM adjustable wraparound tailpiece

Gotoh vintage style locking tuners

Dunlop Straplocks 

3.3kg - 7lbs 4.4oz

Tool prototype #2

The second Tool prototype features a lightly distressed Mahogany body.  

Maple neck, Rosewood fingerboard, 25 ½" scale

3 BoneTop pickups

Volume, tone, 4-way rotary and 3-way switch

ABM adjustable wraparound tailpiece

Gotoh vintage style tuners

Dunlop Straplocks 

Tool prototype #3

Swamp Ash body

Maple neck, Rosewood fingerboard, 25 ½" scale

3 BoneTop pickups

Volume, tone, 4-way rotary and 3-way switch

Pigtail adjustable wraparound tailpiece

Gotoh vintage style tuners

Dunlop Straplocks 

3kg - 6lbs 10oz

TOOL prototype #4

Swamp Ash body

Maple neck, Maple fingerboard, 25 ½" scale

3 BoneTop pickups

Volume, tone, 4-way rotary and 3-way switch

Pigtail adjustable wraparound tailpiece

Gotoh vintage style tuners

Dunlop Straplocks 

3kg - 6lbs 10oz

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