The wabi-sabi concept is an important part of Japan’s cultural legacy, a feeling of melancholy
looking at the impermanence of things and the beauty of a natural patina and understanding of imperfection found in objects of everyday life as in buildings or in nature, giving you a feeling of humbleness, quietness and serenity.
This concept is strongly connected to zen buddhism teachings that the most speaking exemple is the tea house conceptualise by Sen no Rikyu, a monk of the 16th century that will define the rules of the tea ceremony in it’s form as we know it now.
So this guitar was made for a Japan culture enthusiast who had lived for few years in Kyoto and Tokyo to whom we proposed the concept of giving the wood the natural patina that would require the guitar body to live outdoor for several months, so it would not look fake.
The garden scheme around the pickguard was the icing on the cake to complete the zen garden wabi sabi attitude with an inlaid stone that actually comes from a Tokyo temple. The ebony bridge took the aesthetics of japanese temple roofs and the pot buttons is a recreation of a Chozu Bashi, a water bowl cut into stone that serve to purify yourself before going into the tea house for the ceremony. The Tao style burnt Pauwlonia pickup cover was the best choice for the whole concept as well the ebony backplate which had the hand chiseled treatment often seen in temple floors or beams.
The Sakura colored flame maple neck sporting an ebony fretless fretboard with red washi paper fret marks and dots.
This guitar was a real pleasure to conceptualise and built giving us the opportunity to pay our humble tribute to Japanese wisdom.
At the magic touch of the beautiful the secret chords of our being are awakened, we vibrate and thrill in response to its call. Mind speaks to mind. We listen to the unspoken, we gaze upon the unseen. The master calls forth notes we know not of. Memories long forgotten all come back to us with a new significance. Hopes stifled by fear, yearnings that we dare not recognize, stand forth in new glory.
[Okakura Kakuzõ, The book of tea]
T-Bucket “El Mirage”
In the 30’s & 40’s the dry lakes of “mojave” desert was the ultimate place to be if you were a speed freak, the names like Muroc, Rosamond, Harper and ‘El Mirage’ still evokes the true spirit of rodding, the birth of one of the great american car traditions. The dry lakes history was written in two important chapters, pre & post world war II. The first chapter took place at Muroc lake, the second at “El Mirage”, the name that will define the whole concept of our project…
The story begins in our hometown Brussels Belgium, where an improvised meeting took place with Mr. Elwood Francis, long time guitar tech & cool guitars seeker for Mr. Billy F. Gibbons. Several guitars were tried out & inspected by Mr. Francis, encouraging us to go on and make somethin’ special for his “boss“, in order to make a presentation later on the European tour. Back in our workshop, we went through a lot of brainstorming and drawing sessions, keeping in mind that we had not much time to build up the whole concept, we choose our “T-Bucket“ model as a start-point, set out our chambering process; Mr. Gibbons is famous for playing the lightest guitars on earth, a concept that he pushed to the limit with the help of the amazing John Bolin, his longtime guitar maker of choice.
Back in our workshop, we went through a lot of brainstorming and drawing sessions,
Keeping in mind that we had not much time to build up the whole concept.
We fashioned the body in Spanish cedar wood, chosen for his mahogany likeness in tone but in a quite lighter incarnation. We sawn a slice, cut the body contour, carved the armrest & ribcage, routed the thing out from the back in what we called the “skatepark“ fashion, painted the control cavity in matt white prior the gluing of the back for later effect.
For the neck we stand with our beloved European quartersawn flame maple (yes, we painted it black but that’s the taste of luxury), Indian rosewood fingerboard, simple stuff. Mr. Gibbons is not only one of greatest, coolest guitar player around, he’s also a graphic artist, painter, cars & guitars designer (remember the famous “Cadzilla“, “hogzilla“ bikes, or the “muddywood“ guitar,…)
We fashioned the body in Spanish cedar wood.
We fashioned the body in Spanish cedar wood. For the neck, european quartersawn flame maple (painted it black but that’s the taste of luxury), Indian rosewood fingerboard, simple stuff.That in mind, needless to say we had to push the envelope a lil’ further in order to impress the man. So we decided to build our own design “bucket“ bridge, a three brass barrels style that we’ve only had in our sketchbook, a technical plan was made, and then we crafted it into a wood model, the next step was to make the first steel prototype, which was not our usual crafting material of choice, we had to find the right man for that job. That’s where Mr Fred Bertrand of KRUGGER motorcycle drops in.
He made us the piece in stainless steel (see picture) working the old hot rodding way, with a hammer & a blowtorch, then we managed to sand & polish the thing, a process that took us a few hundred hours to bring the whole thing to his actual state of refinement, adorn by three custom made highly polished compensated brass barrels.
called “kinetic design” giving to still objects the dynamics of motion.
We decided to build our own design “bucket“ bridge, a three brass barrels style that we’ve only had in our sketchbook. We made a jewel inspired by a Cadillac fleetwood V16 roadster wheel ornament melting into an oval shape as the result of high speed, a trick we apply to all our creations, called “kinetic design” giving to still objects the dynamics of motion. This decoration was made out of actual stainless steel spoon & knife, giving it mirror polished glaze.
The back plate is our small tribute to the late “Big Daddy Roth“, bearing the visual of his famous “beatnik bandit“ & “road agent“ plexi bulb roof, which also sports our classic magnet lock system.
We’ve also custom turned pot buttons, inspired by the classic “behive“ oil filter seen on the oldschool “flathead“ rods.
Talking of the neck, the tuners were mounted with “no visible“ bushings for a real sleek looking headstock, the glossed black neck was enhanced by custom side markers inspired by some art deco gauges seen on the dashboard of a ‘37 Ford.
At last but not least, come custom made pickups, created by the absolute PAF expert Mr Dave Stephens of SD design pickups. We’ve put one of the three prototypes of his holy grail VL PAF repro, it has to be heard to be believed, the thing is alive, dripping soul out of every note played, with a harmonic contend that is pure magic, Dave just makes the Mona Lisa of the guitar pickups world.
We finished the guitar gloss black and matt gold, highlighted by a white lining in a classy Cadillac fashion.
Please note that the guitar pictured above is a one off custom, therefore some elements such as pickups, pickup configuration, colors, electronics… are left to customer’s taste.
One piece european quartersawn Flame maple with selected rosewood fingerboard featuring Tao custom fretting : we start with medium jumbo to the twelfth fret, and finish with smaller ones, giving your fingers more space to play up the neck ; our single bar double action “carbon flex” truss rod ensuring neck stability and superior playing comfort.
Custom paint side-marks.
Body color matched headstock
scale : 24′ 3/4 inch with a 9.5′ radius.
Chambered spanish cedar body
Gotoh Vintage 510 H.A.P tuners with custom short brass bushings ;
Custom handmade stainless steel “Bucket” bridge “ with brass saddles.
Polished “vintage style” CTS pots, custom made button & screwless control plate, N.O.S Bumblebee capacitor, polished electro-socket output jack, Stefen’s design custom vl prototype pickup featuring our trademark hand made covers.
Automotive DuPont colors (gold and black), clear matt for the top and glossy for the back, the sides and the neck.
Custom made plexi magnet-locked back plate.
As pictured above: 9 000€
The “firebird” & “thunderbird” were born in the mind of Raymond H. Dietrich the famous car designer who was ask by Ted Mc Carthy to design a guitar that will compete with Fender’s popularity in these days, due to the “surf music” sound that was the trend at that time.
A guitar with a car pedigree was just the perfect match for us, so we decided to go on and revisit the concept. As the firebird guitar was sharing his name with the famous Pontiac “muscle car” this led us to the idea of taking the name of our own favorite one as a startpoint for this project…
So we choose the “Charger” because of his the meanner attitude, the black crawlin’ bad guys car in the 68 classic movie “Bullit”, how cooler a car can be?
Then we worked on new more dynamic body inspired by the classy hood & fender lines of the 68 Dodge Charger with a sleek plunging front that will give more cleared neck to body joint, a cool rounded armrest, a deeper ribcage, the rounded edged center log vanishing on both ends adding to the car hood like visual.
Custom handmade pickups covers with our trademark front grill attitude.
Despite the clear “birds” ascendence this is not neck through affair, instead we choose the glued in method with a super long and large tenon joint with honduran mahogany neck & body for a 440 big block kinda’ of sound.
The first one was made as a custom order bass, but our first idea was to make duet of guitar & bass in a 58 modernistic “korina” appearence, be our guest!