Fred Pons: Kopo Guitars

The Kopo Manhattan model.

A hollowbody made from basswood with a red cedar top, the Kopo Manhattan features bird’s-eye maple veneer and an ebony fretboard and bridge.

Based in France, luthier Fred Pons started as a violin builder and now has 27 years of experience crafting stringed instruments. His guitars often incorporate a nickel-anodized brass headplate. In fact, one of his specialties is to combine various materials from metal to carbon reinforcements. The Manhattan’s dual-pickup system features Fishman saddle piezos combined with a sliding Benedetti double-coil magnetic pickup. You slide the pickup by moving a magnet in an opening at the back of the body.

Sophie Dockx: Dorian Guitars

Unique features make Dorian Guitars ambidextrous. A special bridge quickly changes the intonation to accommodate a left-handed player, and the bodies are symmetrically shaped to allow comfortable positioning in either orientation.

Belgian luthier Sophie Dockx designed and built her first guitar in 1979 at age 17. She worked as a performing artist and guitar teacher for 30 years, while also supporting herself as an industrial designer for IBM. In 2004 she formed Dorian Guitars, where she now sticks to design and prototyping, as her guitars are built by Sander de Gier in the Netherlands.

The Dorian family consists of a line of electric and acoustic instruments that can be played by either right- or left-handed musicians. The LRQC-1 bridge can be flipped over to convert the intonation to left-handed stringing. The symmetrical body shape provides an optimal playing position in either orientation. The positioning of the controls is rather unorthodox—behind the bridge and out of the way of the strumming action, but still very close at hand. The wiring of the two controls can be easily converted from right- to left-hand action.

The Dorian line includes the Rondo, a neck-through solidbody electric made from mahogany with a maple top and ebony fretboard. Developed by Harry Häussel, the pickup is a narrow-window humbucker with an expanded distance between the coils to reduce crosstalk. The Django model is an acoustic-electric guitar in one. It sports a magnetic pickup and allows for high-definition acoustic tones at less than 100 pounds of string tension. It’s designed to sound somewhere between a steel-string acoustic and an archtop, while keeping the playability of an electric.