PHOTO: Brad Macchioni shreds the S2, Guitar Center, North Austin, Texas.
Last week I flew down to visit Bart Townsend at his new facility in Texas. This was an important visit, as all guitar components are now machined in his dedicated aerospace shop, T-Squared Manufacturing, in Waco. We will dig deeper into this transition in a future article.
Two hours drive south of Waco is the famed live music capital of the southwest, Austin, Texas. To me that sounded like a perfect excuse to mix business with pleasure. Road trip...
First stop was to meet Brad Macchioni, composer & guitarist for Moonstar Alpha. We had corresponded via email about the pending S2 guitar, so this was a great opportunity to get the actual V.2.0 prototype in his hands. Brad works in the North Austin Guitar Center, so he brought in his Fractal Audio System Axe-Fx II and we connected in the pro audio room to hear the S2 through full range active speakers.
I really appreciate you giving me the chance to test drive the S2 today. I can confidently say that you laid all of my concerns regarding the numerous non-traditional elements of the S2 to rest during our critique, and I definitely want to move forward in solidifying a position in the build queue.
It was a pleasure to actually speak with you and your crew in person and allow me to pick your brains and offer my suggestions to a talented group of people that offered a welcome reception. I really enjoyed the positive attitude of everyone and your willingness to truly examine the specifications with me, whilst displaying zero ego.
Additionally, I love working on guitars and if you ever were truly looking to add someone to your team, it would be something that I would like to seriously discuss.
Thanks again, best regards:
PS - The "plasma rifle" aesthetic fits perfectly with my current sci-fi inspired solo project; Moonstar Alpha. I currently only have some extremely rough (OLDDDDD) recordings up at various places that will soon be replaced with much more mature versions following the release of my debut album early next year.
Brad is highly knowledgeable about guitars, due to his sales experience and intimate exposure to Guitar Center's inventory. He provided the best critique I've ever heard regarding one of my guitars, in the hour and a half we visited. As a result of his suggestions, we're going to make a few improvements to the neck heel design, creating easier access for thumb-over players in the uppermost frets.
PHOTO: Bart Townsend, in full-on NAMM mode, explains S2 component details to Brad Macchioni, as Rick Toone looks on.
Next stop, a visit with my friend Geoff Cline and his wife, Sallie Trout, in the Hill Country west of Austin. Geoff and I had met at NAMM earlier this year where we immediately hit it off and found a mutual respect for each other's minds and worldview.
Geoff is personal friends with luthier Ken Parker — and introduced me to Ken (as well as to Ken's extraordinary archtop guitars).
PHOTO: Geoff Cline lost in the moment, exploring S2 (above). Geoff is an excellent player, fluent in the vocabulary and styling of Bill Frisell & Charlie Hunter. Bert the dog (below) is a rescue Geoff & Sallie nursed back to health after he'd survived two weeks of Hill Country wildfires. All photos Masi.
Rick Toone just left, after an all too brief but wonderful visit. Here are some cell phone images of the incredible S2 guitar that is going into production.
The guitar is on its way to Steve Blucher @ DiMarzio for some R&D on the splittable humbucking pickups (that are already wonderful). 5 position switch is both coils neck, both, bridge (1,3,5) and single neck/single bridge (2,4).
The neck and fingerboard are a single billet of aircraft grade aluminum (Bart Townsend, Rick's machinist/collaborator on hardware makes stuff for Space X...the quality is off the charts).
There is so much more going on with this guitar...but I'm not able to "tell all" yet. I can say that the playing experience and sustain & intonation is ASTOUNDING. Do what you can to check it out (contact Rick)...I'm still getting my head around it...WAY good.
More will be revealed...and yes, you can open a bottle (by design) at the hanger/"headstock" end.
— Geoff Cline
Geoff is highly respected in the music community both for his legal work as well as his contributions to culture. Earlier in his career, he was co-founder and business affairs/legal guy the record label Sovereign Artists, Inc., recording such artists as: Loudon Wainwright III, Petra Haden, Bill Frisell, and Chris Hillman.