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Musikmesse 2011: Achtung Babies

Musikmesse 2011: Achtung Babies


Pagelli Andre Archtop and Ekolette Solidbody
Few luthiers design with so little regard to boundaries—real or perceived—as Swiss builder Claudio Pagelli. He builds inspired acoustics, archtops, and electrics with an irreverent aesthetic that rarely stays on one path very long. The Andre archtop (left) was built to celebrate his 30th anniversary in business and features a body and neck of Canadian maple, a top crafted from moon-cut Swiss alpine spruce, ebony binding, Schertler tuners with tagua-nut buttons, and a Häussel pickup. Like so many of Pagelli’s designs, it pulls off the tough act of being classic and deconstructionist at once.

As for the Ekolette (right), it seems to be a blend of the extroverted stylings of Italian electrics from Bartolini, Eko, and Gimelli. Its name, says Pagelli, is a mix of Eko and Echolette—a German amp company from the ’60s and ’70s—and the shape is based on a bass design from years ago. “We always thought it would be a great shape for an electric guitar.” Specs include a mahogany body and neck, a maple top, an Indian rosewood fretboard, Q-tuner neodymium pickups, Gotoh bridge, and Kluson-style tuners. “The back and sides match the color of the pickups,” Pagelli explains, “but the rest is covered with vintage-stock Italian mother-of-toilet-seat [pearloid]. The sound is very open and clear—almost acoustic—but with lots of sustain.”

(LEFT) Gibson Les Paul Studio Baritone

Fans of growling baritones channeled via brawny 496R (neck) and 500T (bridge) humbuckers have cause to celebrate at the sight of this 28"-scale beauty with a “’50s Rounded” neck profile and Grover tuners. Finished in pretty honeyburst, this thump machine looked bossy just hanging there.

(RIGHT) Lâg Imperator I3000 Master
Michel Lâg Chavaria brought his guitars to the US just two years ago, but they’ve been something of a fixture in Europe for decades. The new Imperator I3000 Master has a mahogany body with a spalted, quilted, or flamed maple top, a choice of hardware finishes (“black satin,” nickel, or “antique gold”), and DiMarzio, Seymour Duncan, or EMG pickups.

PRS Bernie Marsden SE
Hardworking former Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden has been honored with a signature PRS this year. This SE has a 24 1/2" scale, PRS SE 245 humbuckers in the bridge and neck positions, and a Wide Fat neck.

Nick Page Guitars Strich-II
Berlin-based Nick Page had some of the most stylish guitars on the Musikmesse floor this year. Though some of his designs pay subtle homage to classics from Supro, Zemaitis, and Rickenbacker, they’re dressed up with custom hardware and Page’s unique slotted headstock. The Strich-II shown here has a fiberglass body, vintage 1960s Filter’Tron pickups, a 3-way selector, Volume and Tone knobs, a Bigsby-style vibrato, and a maple neck with a rosewood fretboard and Dunlop 6105 fretwire.

Nik Huber Krautster II
When we visited Nik Huber at his workshop in Rodgau, Germany, after Musikmesse (keep an eye out for the forthcoming video tour on, he told us the back-to-basics Krautser models (the one-pickup Krautster I and two-pickup Krautster II) have become his most successful designs. So it only made sense that he update the line a bit. Both versions are now available with an optional veneer of thin, oxidized silver (left and middle).

Duesenberg Rezobro
Perhaps the single most innovative guitar development at Musikmesse came from the folks at Duesenberg. The Rezobro features a semi-hollow mahogany body with a spruce top, and it enables you to blend remarkably realistic resonator tones with the electric tones from its bridge-position humbucker and neck-position P-90. While some in this day and age might expect this feat to be accomplished with digital processing or modeling, the Rezobro does it mechanically: A metal plate attached to the stop tailpiece extends up to the one-piece bridge, and two piezo pickups under the plate transmit the vibrations between it and the bridge. For more tonal variety, the metal plate also has adjustment screws for a tighter or looser resonator sound. Controls for the electronics include Master Volume, magnetic-pickup Volume, dual piezo Volumes, and a Master Tone knob, as well as a piezo toggle, and a 3-way magnetic-pickup selector. Other cool features include Duesenberg Z tuners and a nut with height screws for easily setting up slide-friendly action. The Vintage White version shown here was custom-built for Keb Mo.

(LEFT) Blasius Guitars
Hungary’s Blasius Guitars—which has primarily offered basses until this year’s Musikmesse—unveiled a new line of ornate custom solidbodies with deeply carved bodies and highly figured woods. The guitars shown here feature Sublime pickups (with matching wood covers in the left two models), and the guitars on the left and right feature a Schaller Hannes bridge.

ESP had a bazillion guitars on the show floor. But none were quite as arresting as this touch of evil.
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