If this is the first you’ve heard of HeliArc
Guitars, don’t feel like you’re not in the
know. This Santa Ana-California luthier is
relatively new to the scene. But once you lay
eyes on this company’s truly unique take on
the electric guitar, you probably won’t forget it.
Rick Adams, the man behind HeliArc
guitars, along with longtime partner Wayne
Peltier, had been designing and manufacturing
various products in Adams’ Southern California
facility for some time. He began experimenting
with a guitar design with a new, different
look that players of all styles would gravitate to.
After a great deal of tinkering and refinement
to the design, HeliArc Guitars was born. Once
the initial design was complete, recording
artists Joey D’Anda, Jeff Abercrombie, and
Michael Elsner were brought onboard to
provide an added dimension with their deep,
Handcrafted while utilizing high-tech
manufacturing methods and the input from
multi-platinum artists, HeliArc uses aircraft-grade
aluminum to create its instruments.
They then load them up with some of the
finest parts in the industry to provide the
tone and sustain professionals demand. “The
reason behind our passion for high-quality,
handcrafted manufacturing and attention
to detail in each guitar is so that each of
our customers will feel that their HeliArc
was custom built just for them,” says CEO
Adams. “The reaction has been phenomenal
so far. We receive comments from artists
that they like the durability, stability, and
road-worthiness of our guitars. They also say
they love the tone and feel so much that they
can’t put them down.”
Elsner, whose credits include writing and
producing for American Idol and So You
Think You Can Dance, says “HeliArc guitars
are very versatile instruments. Not only
do they sound great, but they’re very comfortable
to play. They afford someone like
me—in my role of writing and playing on
various television and film projects—a wide
and unique array of tones to choose from.”
Though the various HeliArc models are
visually reminiscent of resonator instruments,
“HeliArc Guitars are not resonator
guitars in the truest sense,” explains Adams.
“For those who have never played a HeliArc
Guitar, it is best described as a fusion of the
elements of an ES-335 hollowbody and a
resonator. Most of our customers are professional
musicians that come from a wide
variety of music genres, from country to
R&B to heavy metal.”
With its unique and clear sound, the Arc Light is built to appeal to a range of guitarists,
primarily those playing country, jazz, or other music genres with an acoustic
element. Available with an aluminum, gold anodized, or candy red finish, the 24
3/4"-scale Arc Light is outfitted with a single Lace Alumitone pickup. HeliArc states
that with additional gain, players can achieve the vintage sounds of bluesmen from
the ’60s and ’70s.
Like most other HeliArc models, the VT Bomber utilizes a single, Lace Alumitone
pickup for electronics, but there is an option to add a center-cone pickup, giving
the VT Bomber the ability to produce additional tones for blues and country-western
styles. The 25 1/2"-scale VT features a vintage-style tailpiece, locking tuners by
Grover, and is available in green, copper, and candy red finishes.
Drop Tail Bomber
The Drop Tail Bomber’s design features a body-inset tailpiece, giving the
guitar its vintage appearance while helping to provide the extended sustain
musicians look for when playing country, jazz, or rock leads. With locking
tuners by Grover and a single Lace Alumitone pickup, the 25 1/2"-scale
Drop Tail Bomber is available with an aluminum, black, or white finish.
The B-52 has a pair of Lace Alumitone pickups allowing a player to produce a
wide range of acoustic tones—be it rock, country, or jazz. By adding gain, one
can achieve sounds reminiscent of ’70s classic rock or modern-rock tones. The
25 1/2"-scale B-52 sports a rosewood fretboard, a birdseye-maple neck, and is
available with an aluminum, red, candy red, copper, or black finish.
HeliArc builds the Aurora model with slide/lap guitarists—or those looking for a
uniquely shaped guitar—in mind. The Aurora also features Lace Alumitone pickups,
and according to HeliArc, this model appeals to players in the blues genre by packing
a punchy, traditional sound from the neck pickup. Available in an aluminum or candy
blue finish, the 24 3/4"-scale Aurora boasts block inlays atop its rosewood fretboard.
The style and shape of HeliArc’s Halo model are intended to speak to players in
the rock or metal genres, but this guitar is capable of producing clear tones as well.
HeliArc states that the Halo’s fast neck is set up for sweeps and harmonies, and that
plugging the Halo into a high-gain amp allows for searing lead tones. The Halo features
locking tuners by Grover, a single Lace Alumitone pickup, and is available in
white, yellow, red, blue, or black finishes.
Pricing and Availability
HeliArc can be contacted directly for sales and
custom orders. However, they will soon be
announcing a new distribution network, along
with a line of basses currently in development.
In its relatively short time on the market,
HeliArc has produced 63 guitars—with 14
made in December 2011 alone—and are
increasing production each month. Pricing for
each of the HeliArc models is $2,599.