Apologies for the bluntness, but man... Goshawk™ is something to behold.
I’ve been playing guitar for the better part of 30 years, over half of that for a living, and I can’t recall the last time — if EVER — I got goosebumps playing guitar. As it were, it happened while rolling off the tone knob (which also deserves its own comment: I’ve also never had a guitar where the ENTIRE range of the tone knob was not only useable, but sounded AMAZING).
There is some SERIOUS tonal mojo going on here.
The ergonomics are a very good fit for me. The neck size, and even more so the way the body fits me and seats the neck much more “in” my person, it just works. The ability to play in the lower register without feeling like I am stretching my arm out is just superb.
Again, wow... the whole chemistry of this instrument is ME. I’ll be taking it out on the road in the coming weeks for the road test part. And I’ve got a recording project underway I’ll be using it for in the meantime.
Thank you Rick. You’ve gotten me an instrument that makes me want to just sit and write. It’s rare I’m inspired to this degree with a new guitar. This one is special. (Matt Richard)
In their own words…
For the last hours I have had the pleasure of getting to know the intricacies of the Gowshawk™ and these are my first impressions. I ran the guitar through my new Komet 60 HD and in stereo with a Tone King Falcon to create a bit of ambience and fuller sound. I should point out that the Komet is also a new acquaintance so I might need some time to dial in the sounds to perfection.
Where to start? It’s hard to put the guitar down once you’ve started playing. The ergonomics of the instrument are first class, in fact I have never played a guitar that is more comfortable and inviting than this. It’s extremely light weight. When I carried the box inside my house, I was worried that there was no guitar inside. The shape of the body gives the guitar a distinct and unique shape, unlike any other traditional guitar. It has its own DNA, and the balance of the guitar is perfect regardless if you play sitting down, standing up or laying on the floor in cheer joy. It just melts in with your body.
The neck shape (Advantage™ Neck Profile) is great for any type of playing, and unlike some other guitars, there is no fatigue even after hours of intense playing. In particular when soloing on the higher spectrum, the frets are well accessible and you can really articulate high notes all the way and better than on any guitar I have tried before. The neck was perfect right out of the box, and tuning appears to be very stable. The fretwork is flawless and dots and markers give excellent visibility in low light settings, on stage, etc.
Both the tone and volume knobs are highly interactive and shape the sound significantly. The pickup selector has no less than 10 settings and I have not gotten around to figure out how it’s wired in all different settings, but I anticipate that in combination with the volume and tone control, virtually every sound a guitar can make is available right at your hands.
What was truly amazing was how consistent the sound was all across the board. Most guitars have their sweet spot, a place on the fretboard where it really sings. This means that other areas are weaker or a tad too loud and must be compensated with work on the volume or tone knob when you move around. The Goshawk™ is different. The sound is consistent all across the fretboard, you can drop your E and play with the devil and in the next moment go to screaming highs and the guitar will project a well balanced sound all the way through. Also between pickup settings there is very little loss of volume, although going from a single coil to humbucking fattens up the sound as desired.
The placement of the guitar volume knob is perfect for me and the knob itself is an absolute gem to work with. The (DiMarzio™ exclusive) pickups are indeed touch sensitive and the volume knob interacts very noticeably in every pickup selection, and goes all the way from grit to high and chimey sounds without the use of pedals or adjusting amp settings.
The placement of the input jack makes the guitar easy to hold regardless of playing position without the often annoying break and tear of cable that other locations often produce.
Sound-wise the guitar is very versatile and can reproduce nearly any guitar sound imaginable, but like I said it has its own DNA. In that regard, and this was very pleasing to experience, the guitar has its own distinct sound and character, instead of trying to imitate established guitars and brands. This guitar has the capability to render a lot of guitar collections redundant, simply because it will be the «go to» guitar for many tasks. It will be the ONE guitar that you always pick up.
The native sound of the instrument is excellent, and as said, very versatile for all types of music. Adding pedals enhances sounds in all directions and allows entrance to guitar heaven. It can very fast become an addictive and trance-like state of being, and your companion, friends and family might have a challenge in getting in contact as you get lost, forget to eat, or sleep.
Thank you, Rick. This was a great experience and the process of ordering and communication on creating this instrument was first class all the way.
Hopefully in a not too distant future I will post some samples of how she sounds in my hands. I noticed you put 009 gauge strings. Any reasons for this? All my other guitars are 010. I however noticed the more expressive and articulated bends I am able to get, so I might experiment with 009’s a while.
Thanks for a truly great guitar.
Thanks a lot. Now my fingers are sore.
I couldn't put it down last night. It really opened up after about an hour of playing and I just kept going. Then I got up early and played it again because I didn't really believe it was that good. I have a bunch of questions and would love to talk with you about why this and why that type of stuff. It's just so cool. My all-time favorite guitar (which I own) just feels dead now compared to the Goshawk™.
So I want to order another one. Let me know if you are around tomorrow to talk. I'll call you.
Again, well done, just well done.
The Warning recently band purchased a second Spearfish™ 6-string guitar, the mighty Moby Dick. Daniela Villareal has put the guitar to immediate use, in the studio and live. The Warning will be touring the US once visa issues are squared away. PS: The answer is YES.
She LOVES it!
Dany always wants another of your guitars, if it where up to her she would have 10 by now!
In the studio and live, I am sending you pictures…
We arrived home last Wednesday at noon after a red eye flight and went directly to interviews and promotions of our 2 weekend shows (which went great both of them) then Sunday we received at our little studio fans that came from Brazil, Canada, Sweden, Germany, England and the USA, so now we are finally having some time to rest a little before we go to Colombia to the Rock al Parque Fest June 29.
I have a request for you, it would really mean the world to us if you can make a trip to watch them play live, I would really love to have you there, so you can watch them, hear them, be with us, know us better.
What do you say my friend? (Luis Villarreal, Manager)
This beautiful Spearfish appears throughout the Gift music video, providing clean and overdriven tones which add the atmospheric thunderstorm within the song story.
Swamp Ash solid body with light relic vintage nitro sunburst finish. Patent pending Element™ single billet aircraft aluminum neck. Patented Intonation Cantilever™ solo bridges, precision machined from solid stainless steel. Proprietary OEM DiMarzio pickups designed by Steve Blucher. 10-position pickup selection, featuring true single coil and humbucking tones.
This guitar is extraordinary.
There’s a local tavern with a long history. During the War for Independence it quartered Hessian troops, the commander of which — Count Carl von Donop — was infatuated with a “beautiful young widow” by the name of Betsy Ross (age 24).
Betsy, when she was not sewing flags for the Revolutionaries, applied her skills such that Count Dunop was “distracted” by her company on Christmas Eve, 1776.
She held him out of position that night, allowing George Washington’s significant victory a few miles north, in the Battle of Trenton. Von Donop’s desire to occupy her territory proved fatal to the British Empire’s ambitions to control the American Colonies.
Betsy entertained the Count at her place in Mount Holly, New Jersey, a few miles south of this very same tavern. Mount Holly is home to a fantastic start-up — Spellbound Brewing — which brings us full circle to Ken sitting beside me on a bar stool drinking Spellbound Porter as we talked politics, sports, and music.
Ken is almost done his doctoral dissertation in psychology, and despite off-hours, the psychologist’s lens is never really dormant. He turned to me, looking over the top of his spectacles: “Son,” he said, “when was the last time you actually played music?”
We’ve been friends since 7th grade.
“All work and no play makes Rick a dull boy,” he concluded.
“You have set yourself a huge first challenge, I’d say. An a-rhythmical lyric, with syntactical sense that spans multiple line ends, sung at the edges of your vocal range, against a rhythmic accompaniment where the melodic component is a textural combo of counterpoint, choppy guitar and an extended, almost freeform bass line. You know how to aim high, for certain.” (Gethyn)
“I like the minor second above the root in the melody on ‘mare’ and ‘feet’!” (Adam J. Wilson)
“Whoa. That’s a left turn!!! Hats off, Rick. That took a lot of guts. Is this gonna be a thing?” (Chris Buono)
“PISCES: You might feel yourself shying away from a situation, which is actually a good indicator that you should go forward instead. The only way to conquer fear is to let it dissipate through the action it was so afraid of.” (Holiday Mathis)
“Rick: Was not expecting this! Very different, love the vibe. Great recording…the tones of your guitars are so recognizable to my ears.” (Gabe Lopez)
“What’s amazing is how quickly you took this from concept to full realization. The tensions and resolutions and irresolutions (and ear resolutions!) really speak to the spirit of what we need as creative souls navigating our paths. Good to see you, too.” (Killick)
“So intense, it made me think of the writings of Emerson and Thoreau which always for me have a certain gravity and profound thoughtfulness about them, a timelessness.” (Will Pitt)
Screen on my phone illuminated. Incoming call: Bob Bakert. Bob is editor of Jazz Guitar Today, based in Atlanta, GA. The magazine features jazz scene and instruments more traditional than avant-garde, so it was a pleasant surprise when they decided to do a feature on Goshawk™ 6-string guitar. Ede Wright and Bob Bakert had connected locally, and Bob fell in love with Goshawk’s design.
Bob was calling to tell me the article had just been published.
He’s an interesting person, athletic, fit, intelligent, actively playing (and pursuing) all things guitar since the late 1960’s. Our conversation drifted — as it quickly does — into music tangents. He was still aglow from a recent compliment where a well-respected industry insider told Bob he is an excellent musician. What was especially interesting was the follow-up comment: “Musician, not guitar player. Those are two different things.”
Many of us who play tend to bring a set of patterns (musical or thought) to the guitar, then attempt to fit those into the current context, possibly contextually appropriate. Approaching guitar as a musician, instead of as a player, happens when we lead with our ear instead of our skill set.
This is something I have noticed as well, and mentioned recently in the video interview with Mike Dawes. The difference seems based on the ability to listen. Really listen.
Mind still, and present in the moment, as Buddha would say.
Cradling a cup of coffee in my left hand, I sat at the kitchen counter as Steve Sjuggerud scrambled eggs. The lure of frying bacon would soon wake Mike Dawes, sleeping off a six hour time zone difference.
Steve was also simmering baked beans.
“Are beans a Southern breakfast specialty?” I asked. “I’ve had grits and gravy before…”
“Actually, they’re for Mike,” Steve replied. “I think the English like beans with breakfast.”
Photographer Adam King arrived, along with his cousin. “What’s with the beans?”
“They’re for Mike.”
Hoodie-draped Mike appeared, long pale arm extended. Grim Reaper seeks caffeine. “Why does everyone always make me beans at breakfast…?”
So, Mike’s Goshawk™ 6-string electric is nicknamed: Beanst.
Beast + Beans
The Yellow Cab Prius slotted itself into an imaginary third lane. Horns are a tool to open opportunities, and my taxi driver was clearing our path to Wall Street. Touching 60 mph down the next block, tires chirping as we came to a dead stop mid-intersection, inches from the box truck bumper in front of us.
“Unexpected,” he muttered.
Yesterday, Steve Sjuggerud rang the closing bell for the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange). He was also keynote speaker, presenting his film: New Money. I love Steve, and it was exciting to support him in his new venture, so lower Manhattan was the setting for our meeting this time.
Seven visible layers of security then an elevator ride, we stepped onto the trading floor.
Power is not a sufficient word, but is the precise word. Immersive powered electronic environment, labyrinthine, purposeful. On these screens, fortunes are made (and lost) in less than an instant. Capital from investors and central banks are injected into this abstract Darwinian metaphor, traded so fast that — even at the speed of light — proximity to the exchange matters, influencing real estate prices as companies compete to locate hardware closer to the NYSE.
The pulse of human ambition, the collective physical and intellectual labor of billions of people, flow through this space in fractional seconds.
Up in the balcony, Steve banged the iconic gavel and spontaneous cheers erupted around me as the trading day came to an end (Tuesday, April 16, 2019 @ 4 PM EST). Asia then Europe will carry things forward overnight then into tomorrow.
“Money flows to where it’s treated well.” (Steve Sjuggerud)
Later, at the reception, I balanced a small plate of exquisite medium rare porterhouse as Steve shared his initial impressions of the treble bleed capacitor on the wiring harness I’d sent him for testing. A few blocks away, Steve Blucher’s ears were no doubt tingling. Yes, talking guitars, Jack Ma and Warren Buffet looking on.
Just for a moment my concentration broke. An emotion, unfamiliar, a realization…an appreciation…as two worlds clicked together and I felt the course of this incredible journey in lutherie.
PS: Kind thank you to Steve Sjuggerud and his family (and staff).
PHOTOS: Scrimshaw is the art of engraving the bone or tooth of a powerful animal. Spearfish™ 6-string guitar drives Yngwie Malmsteen’s original 1969 Marshall.
PHOTOS: Perhaps no mammal will ever (can ever) be as powerful as Herman Melville’s great white whale, Moby Dick. Nature, embodied. All that is untamed. You can recite the litany, but still it will not end with simply facts: patent pending Element™ aircraft aluminum neck, stainless steel Intonation Cantilever™ patented bridges, exclusive DiMarzio™ pickups, carbon fiber, resonant swamp ash.
My friend Geoff Waldron is an excellent songwriter. When I asked him to put Goshawk™ 6-string through her paces — Nashville style — Geoff composed two absolutely gorgeous pieces of music. Some people just have the ear…check out his playing.
What an instrument! The box had no dents or damage and the guitar arrived safe and sound without a scratch. Still perfectly in tune and ready to play!
The guitar flat out feels like a beautiful woman... like touching the skin of a supermodel when I touch your guitar. The most amazing neck... I can’t even believe it.
You have a fine eye for detail... I should be so lucky to be working with such an accomplished artist such as yourself.
Truly an awe inspiring work of fine craftsmanship.
Truly makes my guitar collection seem like haphazardly constructed hunks of wood and metal. (Geoff Waldron)
VIDEO: Live at the 2019 NYC Electroacoustic Improvisation Summit at New York City College of Technology. Both guitars are fretless (multiscale). Adam J. Wilson on Spearfish™ 6-string. Killick Hinds on Walrus 6-string. Arto Artinian is playing a Haken Continuum surface.
Prior to this live performance, the trio recorded Body Systems studio album.
Besides the three of us, we're improvising with some software I wrote, an algorithmic agent I've taken to calling "Skronkbot." Skronkbot is always listening and always playing; when I press pedals on my pedalboard, I'm turning Skronkbot's output on and off and directing it to use different synths and samplers. (Adam J. Wilson)
One of the ways I approach playing with Adam & Arto is to activate densities wrapped in a web of harmonic infinity...something like lungs filling to steady the next exhalation. There’s an unceasing propulsive quality from the sum of three people (plus robot!) inserting pantonal panrhythmic melodicisms with consummate attention towards making the group soup a good eat. This is a truly a fretless trio: fret less and listen more. It's always a pleasure to work with these beautiful souls and adept technological marvels who too have their own say. (Killick)
Andrew shares his impressions a few days after “Purple Haze” Goshawk™ 6-string guitar arrived…
You knocked it out of the park with the Goshawk.
Purple Haze arrived in perfect condition, and the pictures did not do it justice, not even close. While the appearance is amazing, the fit and ergonomics are truly unmatched. I can’t believe how light it is, and how its contours allow it to easily meld with your body.
I probably played it close to 10 hours this weekend, and I haven’t even scratched the surface of what it can do. The tones are amazing, and it plays incredibly with all of my amps. It is truly an instrument that inspires one to play.
Before it arrived, I thought the Goshawk was going to be an evolution of the Spearfish, but this is a different beast altogether. Thank you for going the extra the mile with your craft/art and creating instruments that help get the music in my head come to life.
If you can’t tell, I couldn’t be happier.
Very truly yours,
Bill took delivery of his sunburst Spearfish™ 6-string guitar this week…
I love this guitar! It may not be good for me, though — I was going to work out last night but picked up the guitar to just play for a few minutes, and before I knew it the gym was closed. And I picked it up this morning, just for a minute, and now I’m two hours late for work (fortunately I’m self-employed).
I was a bit apprehensive buying another guitar sight unseen, but trusted that this time would be different. Wow! Spearfish™ is stunning! And the most comfortable guitar I’ve ever played…sitting down it just melts into my body, absolutely perfectly contoured. I love the deep carve on the arm rest, and the neck carve makes the upper frets a breeze to access.
I wasn’t sure if I would be comfortable with the thinness of the Element™ neck, but it was love at first touch. And the fan-frets are the most comfortable ones I have encountered, just right. It took almost no time to get used to. Playability is off the charts, virtually effortless.
And the tone! I played it clean for a while, and was actually a bit taken aback when I switched to an overdriven sound…the first note just leapt out, with such clarity and sustain. Truly spectacular!
I have been using the neck humbucker most of all (has always been my favorite position), and then the bridge, Strat, and Tele positions, as those seemed most familiar before I knew exactly what I was dealing with. I have used the tone knob quite a bit, as I have played everything from straight ahead jazz to rock and blues. I love how expressive the guitar is, and the action is absolutely perfect…it almost plays itself.
My wife commented how great the guitar sounds, and she has never done that with any of the other guitars I’ve owned. I have loved my (other brand) headless model, and figured it was about as good as it gets, but Spearfish™ is in a different league.
A million thanks for the guitar, it is perfect! I sincerely appreciate the attention to detail that is so obvious in every aspect of the guitar. Feel free to use me for a reference should anyone want a recommendation. All the best —
It is such a joy to get time with dear friends, especially involving music. When Steve Sjuggerud invited me to visit him in Florida this past week, it was an immediate yes.
The occasion was a live performance featuring Steve, Dan Ostrowski (drums), and acoustic guitarist Mike Dawes. Mike was visiting from UK, enroute to tour dates of his own. Also, we would be filming video…of the live performance, plus interviews.
More on that soon.
The next several days were just Mike, Steve, and me hanging out and testing guitars. Steve owns a stunning collection of original iconic vintage gear, lovingly curated, in perfect playing condition: Trainwreck, 1969 100-watt Marshall, Fender 1959 Strat. Plus some of the best new gear: Gil Yaron 1959 Les Paul replica, 1964 Fender Tweed replica, Blug amplifier system.
Essential benchmark guitar tone references.
Against them, we would be comparing two Goshawk™ 6-string prototype guitars I’d just completed.
What you might not know, what you might not expect, Mike Dawes — although known for his acoustic skills — is actually one of the best electric guitarists I’ve ever heard. His playing is fluid, melodic, effortless. Metal, shred…
Mike and Steve ripping together through Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” at concert volume still has me grinning ear to ear, a few days and a few thousand miles later.
Annie Grunwald composed a short piece of music to demo some of the sounds of “Purple Haze” Goshawk™ 6-string guitar. I absolutely love her playing on this. Just over a minute long, she weaves an evocative sojourn.
Every year I grow increasingly grateful for the wonderful people around me. Life — and this journey into Art — is truly made possible by these connections.
Profound gratitude to all of my clients; it is a gift to build for you.
Steve Blucher: this…sound. For showing me the way. Eric Corpus.
Steve Sjuggerud: excellence in nuance.
Ede Wright: Hall of Fame test pilot.
Valeria Karaseva: focus. And knowing when to take me to the wilderness.
Bill Pegg. Ken Kinter. David Newsam. Killick (of course). Scott Baker.
Gethyn. Masi. Tricia. Gary Culver. Inseparable companions on the trek to Mordor.
Dad, for showing me the true meaning of courage and persistence. Mom, for walking beside him no matter how steep the mountain. Love you both so much.
And those we will miss: George Nishimura, Hank Rudderow, Patricia Hurley.