Unparalleled playability and rugged stability from a sweet-sounding, boldly styled composite 7-string.
For folks who embrace the notion that electric guitar design begins and ends with classics such as the Stratocaster, Telecaster, and Les Paul, materials beyond wire, wood, and metal are sacrilege. Maybe that’s why—in spite of their stability and consistency—guitars made from nontraditional materials like carbon fiber have never really managed to seize the guitar-playing public’s imagination in numbers as large as instruments made from traditional materials.
But with the popularity surge of high-profile prog-metal virtuosos who explore forward-thinking designs like headless guitars and fanned frets—as well as a growing contingent of guitarists who favor mathcore over “Mustang Sally”—the demand for envelope-pushing guitars is also increasing.
Dutchman Aristides Poort is an engineer who bases his instrument designs on Arium—a material made from a mixture of resins and microscopic bubbles that approximates the cell structure and acoustic properties of wood. The company says Arium took 15 years to perfect, and was created with help from scientists at the Delft University of Technology. The first Aristides model—the 010—was designed in collaboration with Adrian Vandenberg of Whitesnake and introduced at Musikmesse 2009. At winter NAMM 2014, Aristides introduced its first 7-string, the 070.
Synthetic Yet Soulful
Like its siblings, the handbuilt 070 is crafted from a hard, hollow exoskeleton made from multiple layers of glass fiber and carbon, which is then filled with resonant Arium. The only wood on the guitar is the ebony fretboard. The neck and the body start out in liquid form and are shaped in an aluminum mold that the company says has been engineered with absolute precision. The resulting single piece that incorporates the body and the neck is intended to allow vibration to resonate through the whole guitar without impediment. In the midst of this body-forming process, they also embed a security microchip with a scannable code inside the body—nice!
The hardware on our review model might seem a bit staid in comparison to some of the other details, but it’s still high quality: a Hipshot hard-tail fixed bridge with an Aristides stainless-steel tone block (a Floyd Rose-equipped model is also available,) and a GraphTech Black TUSQ nut. The Seymour Duncan Pegasus bridge and Sentient neck pickups are controlled by a 5-way switch and volume and tone knobs (the former of which is push-pull for outer- and inner-coil tapping options,). You can also order a model with Seymour Duncan Blackout or EMG active pickups.
Looks That Kill
Outwardly, the 26.5"-scale 070 is daring and distinct—a look that some will love and some will loathe. Though I’m by no means averse to an outside-the-box visual vibe, I’ll admit I never completely warmed to the “matte anthracite” finish or the sleek, stylized indentations in the guitar’s top. And given how functional the 070 is, I can’t help but wonder if splitting the difference between radical design and tradition wouldn’t make the guitar appealing to a wider audience. That said, plenty of innovative designs (Steinberger comes to mind) made a splash precisely because their look was as bold as their functional departures from tradition. And players who feel there’s a lot of stylistic homogeneity among guitars aimed at heavy players will no doubt find the 070’s distinctive aesthetics refreshing.
One of the biggest advantages to using alternative materials for guitar making is increased stability. So I wasn’t too surprised when the guitar arrived perfectly in tune after a long trans-Atlantic flight from the Netherlands to Premier Guitar headquarters in Iowa, and then back to my place in New York City. How many other guitars could you take out of the shipping crate after trips across two continents, and use them at a gig that night without any adjustments? The intonation was perfect, and the factory setup was great.
The 070’s playability is fantastic, too. The C-shaped neck’s 24 medium-jumbo frets and 12"–16" compound-radius fretboard offer great balance for lower-register chords and soloing in the middle and upper registers. Even with the larger 7-string neck, it wasn’t really any more difficult to play than a 6-string shred axe. The heel-less neck joint is contoured to allow excellent upper-fret access, and deep bends rang true without choking. After vigorous and prolonged bending episodes, the Hipshot Grip-Lock locking tuners held tuning remarkably well.
The 070 has a punchy, lively sonic character. Even unplugged, first-position chords sounded and felt noticeably more full than other electric guitars in my studio. Through an Ampeg SuperJet Reissue, the 070 exhibited a modern, focused sound almost like what you’d expect from active pickups—but with a lot more warmth and soul. With a clean tone, I tried some tapped, Tosin Abasi-inspired contrapuntal figures and was surprised at how notes articulated only with left-hand hammer-ons had such a precise attack and maintained their robustness however long I held them.
When I used an MI Audio Tube Zone pedal to add some dirt, the first thing I noticed was that the 070’s sustain is unreal. Notes lasted so long—even without any finger vibrato to keep them going—that it almost felt like I was using an EBow. The Aristides website claims Arium facilitates sustain on the low E for “easily 45 seconds.” I tested this and got between 25 and 29 seconds with the dirt box on, and about 20 seconds with a clean sound. Still, that’s a damn long time.
To see how the 070 would handle harmonically complex chords with a lot of gain, I played a second-position Bsus2 chord with the open low B and an F# on the low E. The result sounded three-dimensional and in-your-face—with huge bottom end and a crisp top. Unsurprisingly, I could get sharp, percussive attack perfect for djent rhythms, but I was impressed to find that, by varying pickup and pedal combinations, I could get an almost vintage, PAF vibe for rock or blues tunes.
At slightly more than three grand, the Aristides 070 is upscale—though you do get some nice extras, like a leather strap, Schaller strap locks, and a Gator XL hardshell case. But it’s a serious professional axe that seems destined to withstand a lifetime’s worth of the most grueling touring. It’s also a surprisingly versatile guitar—sonically, there aren’t many styles that it can’t cover. Visually, it seems more at home in a metalcore or prog-metal setting, but then again, since when have modern 7-strings been known for tame styling? Most importantly, judged on tones, playability, and stability, it’s a near-flawless instrument with very few peers.
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
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Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more.
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.
Dunable announce new Minotaur model featuring Grover Rotomatic Keystone tuners.
The Minotaur's DNA is rooted in their classic Moonflower model, which Dunable discontinued in 2017. However, they have long since wanted to create a fresh take on a carved top guitar design, and various attempts to rework the Moonflower led them to a brand new concept with the Minotuar.
Dunable's goal is to give the player a guitar that plays fast and smooth, sounds amazing, and gives maximum physical ergonomic comfort. The Minotaur's soft and meticulous contours, simple and effective control layout, and 25.5" scale length are designed to easily meet this criteria.
- 25.5" scale length
- Dual Humbucker
- one volume, one tone, push pull for coil splitting
- Grover Rotomatic Keystone tuners
- Grover Tune O Matic bridge with brass Kluson top-mount tailpiece
- jumbo nickel frets
- 12" fretboard radius
This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
Adding to the company’s line of premium-quality effects pedals, Missing Link Audio has unleashed the new AC/Overdrive pedal. This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal – the only Angus & Malcom all-in-one stompbox on the market – brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
The AC/OD layout has three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone. That user-friendly format is perfect for quickly getting your ideal tone, and it also offers a ton of versatility. MLA’s new AC/OD absolutely nails the Angus tone from the days of “High Voltage” to "Back in Black”. You can also easily dial inMalcom with the turn of a knob. The pedal covers a broad range of sonic terrain, from boost to hot overdrive to complete tube-like saturation. The pedal is designed to leave on all the time and is very touch responsive. You can get everything from fat rhythm tones to a perfect lead tone just by using your guitar’s volume knob and your right-hand attack.
- Three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone
- Die-cast aluminum cases for gig-worthy durability
- Limited lifetime warranty
- True bypass on/off switch
- 9-volt DC input
- Made in the USA