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, music-industry experience.
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. heliarcguitars.com