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Rick, This is right where my brain is at right now. Not an ergo body, but ergo controls - to allow, facilitate, inspire a form of dynamic interplay....

See this Master Class Cello video with Steven Isserlis...

Now watch this video of Jeff Beck playing a strat.

Jeff's putting in the same type of care and intensity to his "interpretation" of the piece as Isserlis... rare and even shunned among broad groups of electric guitarists...

Back to re-thinking guitar controls... Simplicity is the goal. When I watch the performance by Jeff I can't help but be distracted by how awkward of a technique is required to give that type of right hand interplay with volume/dynamics as well as vibrato/pitch...

Your placement of the pickup switch on Skele has stirred my brain...

As you mentioned it, has to be unaffected by any Townshend style windmills... something below the surface that moves on the cross plane of a typical strum - i.e. forward rather than back and down.

perhaps a "willie whole" -

I'm headlong into formulating my own luthier theories and this blog has been an active part in that. So Thank you.


Nick — those are all great links. Reminds me of the difference between playing music vs. musicianship. Superb!

Thanks for posting. Looking forward to seeing where your lutherie studies take you. Feel free to email me with questions.

It's beautiful. I really like the finish on the back. And the switch holding cylinders coming through the guitar surface work very well.


Thanks, Alex. The texture of the back is created by hundreds of subtle chisel gouges. I wanted to create the feeling of weathering and erosion on all of the instrument's surfaces.

Now I am sure that you were abducted by aliens and somehow managed to steal their secret guitar designs. Human being could never design guitar that looks like this. I know for sure - I've never seen one before. ;)

I expected something amazing but you managed to surprise me - as always.

I hope that Jack likes his new home.
I am sure that neighbours are happy that Jack finally moved. It took him 60 years but hey - better now than never.

Biggest surprise is yet to come. "Something" needs to keep the strings in place. [insert extremely evil grin icon here ]

Hi Rick!

Stunning and impressive are the words that come to mind.

Looks like someone found a piece of drift wood( from a Spanish galleon maybe?) and masterfully worked on it to create a guitar, with a very subdued steampunk flavor to it.

Might sound funny but that's what comes to mind after seeing the final work.


It appears that your time machine is coming along nicely, or so I would assume since this looks like the cherished relic of a futuristic society.

Leaps and bounds in guitar evolution once again!

The more I see this guitar, the more I think of my discovery of bands like Opeth and the genre of metal in general. Before, I listened to Opeth only for the soft stuff; the beautiful chords, acoustic drums, and soaring harmonied vocals. As I listened, however, the more I grew to love the parts that I first thought were only noise. I now like harsh screaming vocals, fast distorted guitars, and double bass drumming. What was once, "noise," is now art. The same follows this guitar.

p.s. how does oak sound as a tonewood? I don't know why it isn't more popular if it is a good sounding wood. I love fumed oak.

Too bad that most of the famous guitar players today are endorser for the big names in guitar industry.
Just imagine if some famous guitar player (why not Opeth's singer and guitar player) played Skele? That would certainly speed up the changes necessary in the world of electric guitars.
Unfortunately most guitar players are influenced by their idols and want to play same guitars as they do. How many JS and SV clones are there out there? When I was younger (15 years maybe) we used to drool over Steve Vai's JEM. Me and my friends considered that guitar to be the best in the world. No one asked why - that was just the way it is. Many guitar players keep that kind of thinking pattern their entire lives.
I see the glimpse of change. Keep doing what you are doing right now my friend. Don't ever stop.

Don't forget to thank /Alex for pushing me to extend this idea and really expose the shielding. Initially I intended to take this guitar in a more purely sculptural direction, but he wrote:

"Letting the copper disk be visible could be interesting design-wise. Will you be running the wires through copper tubes to shield them as well? If so, having the tubes run on top of the guitar rather than inside it might look good."

LINK | http://www.ricktoone.com/2009/10/guitar-bass-control-shielding.html

What determined the final direction was an offer — mid-build — to purchase the guitar, and the client requested distressing.

So, more like Skele, guts are exposed. And a new design paradigm is established. It remains to see if this aesthetic gains traction. I love it, especially when combined with distressed finishes.

Kenny — Oak is wonderful. This guitar will get extensive video (and audio) coverage. I'll be working on that soon.

Brian May from Queen used oak mostly to build is first guitar, Red Special. I think it's a good reference as to oak's tonal qualities!

Rick, I couldn't play a guitar if it beat me.

But I can write. And you're a damn fine writer as well as a damn fine luthier.

An acquaintance of mine writes about living off grid. Most of his readers fantasize about that. I wonder how many of your readers are secret wannabe guitar heros?

Dave — Amazing what damage a guitar can do when provoked. I'd suggest keeping your distance, or at least maintaining a typewriter between you and the potential aggressor.

I'm honored you appreciate my writing.

Truth is, the lutherie bits are just an excuse for writing. I have a garden shed full of enslaved elves who create Photoshopped images of musical instruments: none of which actually exist.

Meanwhile, I just rant in public about things I shouldn't...like politics or religion.

No puedo dejar de mirar a este guitarra.

It makes me wonder.
It makes me question.

Thanks for keeping a dialogue going. And I look forward to future sound clips (I imagine your elves are as talented with Protools as they are with Photoshop?).

Kenny — It makes me wonder, too. I've been playing it every day as I test the hardware. My first reaction to playing the guitar was: "This thing is really strange. It feels...strange."

But comfortable.

So I played it again the next day. I decided I liked it. A day later, I was addicted. Can't put it down.

Now, when I play any other guitar, they all feel strange. I don't ever want to go back. This instrument is a new definition of comfortable.

Monster had the same reaction. I stopped by to show him. An hour later, I could not get him to give it back to me. I finally bribed him by dangling a bass in his field of vision.

I can only imagine right now...

I still get shifted, become off-balance, and experience a sense of vertigo with simple changes like scale length, string gauges, and going from Les Paul to Strat controls (sometimes something as simple as an absence of inlays). When this happens, I still can't help but think, "This is like trading one rock for a slightly different rock when I'm trying to pound in a nail instead of using a hammer."

Until this thing called college is over with, it looks like I'm stuck with my rocks. Then again, I also don't want to be the guy, with a garage full of the most expensive and sophisticated tools around, can't even build a bird house.

Sorry for my horrible analogies. That's just what I do.

Lastly, Rick, I wanted to say that I look at this site more when I am concentrating on writing and painting than when I am thinking about playing guitar. I don't know what to think of this phenomenon; take from it what you will.

Diggin' this more and more...

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Rick Toone

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