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Are 3-D Printed T-Styles the Future?

steampunk-3-1smallMuch of the time, the Winter NAMM show provides pretty much what you expect-a lot of cool guitars, rockstars and wannabe rockstars and the combined din of 300 Guitar Centers on a Saturday morning. But then, sometimes you run into something that can only be described as “odd.” Like Olaf Diegel, whom we ran into downstairs on the first day of NAMM 2014. Olaf loves music from the ‘50s and ’60s, but when it comes to guitars, he’s all modern—no surprise for a guy who has worked in and taught product design for decades. His brand is called ODD Guitars; an appropriate name if you believe guitars should only be constructed from wood.

Diegel’s T-styles are made from Duraform PA, a super-strong form of nylon also used in car dashboards and bumpers. And, what’s “odd” is he makes them on a 3D-printer. That’s right, he prints out guitars from a 3D-printer. And while home 3D printers can now be had for a couple grand, Diegel uses an $250,000 industrial model. (Relax, he doesn’t own it.) It takes 11 hours to print one body.

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The body is not 100% nylon; a wooden inner core of mahogany or maple joins the guitar bridge to the neck. ODD Guitars generally come with maple necks (Warmoth), but that, like pickups, is at the customer’s discretion.

The Americana model features New York landmarks inside the guitar, like the Chrysler Building, Guggenheim, Statue of Liberty, etc.

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Most interesting at this year’s NAMM show was The Steampunk T-Style. Not only is it very interesting with everything going on below the surface, but it also has moving gears and pistons:

The gears are driven by a very small motor and a 9-volt battery. Plan on a week or two of battery life with the gears running continuously. 

Diegel has sold several Steampunk models to people who don’t even play guitar—they just want them as “eye candy for their man caves.”

He says the great thing about 3D printing is that it allows lots of customization “without adding much cost.”  “Much cost” is debatable: The ODD Steampunk sells for $4000.

Find out more and see his other “odd” guitars at: http://www.odd.org.nz/ 

Michael Kelly 1950’s Guitars—Yowza!

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 11.01.07 AMMichael Kelly calls its philosophy “boutique within reach,” and that’s certainly the case with this new line of 1950s T-Style guitars. Designed in America and made in Korea, these T-styled axes look like a real bang for your buck.

There are five models, each featuring an “exotic wood top and contoured arm cut,” plus coil taps for “sonic range and versatility.” Look for these and other Michael Kelly guitars at, as they say, dealers near you soon.

Here’s the whole line-up of new T-Style guitars from Michael Kelly Guitars

The Michael Kelly “1952” T-Style guitar

  • Basswood body with flamed maple top
  • MK PAF-Plus humbucker in the bridge and neck
  • Coil Tap to split humbuckers
  • Available finishes are deep cherry red and natural gloss

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The Michael Kelly “1952” has a MSRP of $449 ($299 street).


The Michael Kelly “1953” T-Style guitar

  • Alder body with flamed maple top
  • MK Stacked Single Coil in the bridge, MK T-Style Single Coil in the neck
  • The caramel burst and black vapor finishes come with a rosewood fretboard while the blue jean wash finish comes with a maple fretboard

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The Michael Kelly “1953” T-Style guitar has an MSRP of $580 ($399 street)


The Michael Kelly “1954” T-Style guitar

  • Alder body with quilted maple top
  • Rockfield SWC humbucker in the bridge, and MK T-style single coil in the neck.
  • Coil Tap to split humbucker
  • Available in Satin Black Wash

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The Michael Kelly “1954” T-Style guitar has a MSRP for $580 ($399 street).


The Michael Kelly “1955” T-Style guitar 

  • Swamp ash body with quilted maple top
  • Rockfield SWC humbucker in the bridge and an MK Mini humbucker in the neck
  • Coil Tap to split humbuckers
  • Available in Amber Trans, Caramel Burst, and Black Wash

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The Michael Kelly “1955” T-Style guitar has a MSRP of $729 ($599 street).


The Michael Kelly “1957” is the flagship model in the line-up.

  • Swamp ash body with quilted maple top
  • Real flamed maple body binding
  • Seymour Duncan Little ’59 in the bridge and a Rockfield humbucker in the neck position
  • Coil Tap to split humbuckers
  • Maple neck
  • Available in amber translucent and black wash

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The Michael Kelly “1957” T-Style guitar has a MSRP of $875 ($699 street).

For more info on the entire line of guitars visit http://www.michaelkellyguitars.com

New T-Styles from Shabat

Avi smallerAvi Shabat was a successful sound engineer when he got the guitar building bug, and it was all because of one bad bass. “I bought it in Germany. It turned out to be awful and had major problems that I couldn’t fix.” As luck would have it, the Algranti School of Lutherie had just opened in Shabat’s native Israel. He enrolled, and soon discovered he had “never felt such a rush before working with wood.”

Shabat converted his recording studio into a shop to begin practicing his craft, but soon ran into a problem: “I was spending so much money shipping parts and hardware that I realized I was stuck with what I know. But I knew I wanted to know more.”

Convinced that Los Angeles was the place, he sold everything and made the move. Part-time gigs at local shops soon led to a full-time apprenticeship at LsL Instruments. Shabat spent four years at LsL before striking off on his own. But it wasn’t a decision made lightly: “It was very emotional thing for me to do. I loved the company, I loved the product, and I got very attached.”

His first order came from gypsy jazz guitarist Gonzalo Bergara, who was entranced by the old school “snakehead” headstock of the very first Fender. Modifying it to make it his own, Shabat still admits his headstock is an “acquired taste, but I love it.” This GB model is loaded with Lollar Charlie Christians.

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Another order came from Smashmouth guitarist Sean Hurwitz. That model, the SH, comes with two humbuckers and a coil tap. He describes it as a “very fast rock and roll guitar.”

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The last in his lineup is the Lion, available with one or two pickups. All feature a pickup toggle on the horn.

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With the exception of hardware, Shabat makes everything from scratch, including truss rods, and uses the “lightest wood I can get my hands on.” He adds,”It’s important to me to go hands on from start to finish. I wouldn’t feel right doing it any other way.”

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For more info on these interest new T-Style guitars from Shabat visit their website at:http://www.shabatguitars.com

Fishman’s First Electric Pickup: The Fluence

2621_mediumSince 1981, the go-to name for amplifying an acoustic has been Fishman. So why is it that after 33 years in business, Fishman is only now going electric? Founder Larry Fishman says there was a good reason for the delay—there were “plenty” of great electric pickups already around. But we all know that pickups aren’t consistent, hand-wound or otherwise. Fishman wants to change that with their new Fluence pickup.

Standard electric guitar pickups consist of a bar magnet, with up to  7000 turns of copper wire coiled around it. In the Fluence, the copper isn’t wound—it’s “printed”  then stacked in 48 layers. As a result, Fishman says “every Fluence pickup sounds the same.”

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Fluence pickups are also multi-voice—you can wire them up with a push-pull pot or a toggle to get different sounds.

  • Voice 1 – Vintage Single-Coil: Vintage tone, clear and present with a sweet warmth.
  • Voice 2 – Hot Texas Single-Coil: Muscular, beefy, “overwound” tone

To remove noise and hum, the signal is sent through a powered preamp, but don’t freak out—Fishman’s rechargeable power pack fits right into the control cavity. It offers around 200 hours of play time (with a warning light when you are down to six.) Total charging time is 2 1/2 hours through a mini USB jack.  The Fluence can also be powered by a standard 9-volt battery.

Fluence will be available in single widths, as well as classic and modern humbucker configurations.

 

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Pricing is TDB. Pickups will be available in the second quarter of ’14.

 

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