October 24, 2007


Every once in awhile you encounter something really unique in the world of guitars and amplifiers.

The very best instruments are often works of art.

In the shop, I see the unique approach of McPherson's cantilevered neck and offset soundhole. McPherson's marriage of physics and design brings a fresh take to guitar building that is both functional and beautiful. Colling's exacting detail and unsurpassed workmanship, while traditional in terms of aesthetics, is nevertheless inspiring.

Chicago artist Ian Schneller has been creating functional works of art, in the form of guitars and amplifiers, under the name Specimen for nearly twenty years. Leaning firmly in the direction of art, his guitars and amplifiers borrow generously from the past, while seeming to defy most conventions at the same time.

Fans of Chicago singer / songwriter / multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird may have noticed his Victrola inspired Horn amplifier (pictured above) on stage. Far from a theatrical prop, this is yet another example of Schneller's functional art in action.

The parlor guitar, with it's small body and 12 fret neck, has seen a resurgence among acoustic guitar builders in the last several years. Schneller has taken the inspiration of this classic design and applied it to his aptly named electric guitar, the Luddite:

Like any art, the aesthetics of Schneller's designs are as likely to be off-putting to some people as they are attractive to others.

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