When a plastic guitar falls in the woods …
Wood is nature’s own composite material. Our homes and the furniture that fills them are made of wood. Pencils and paper are made from it, and the disposable napkins and cups we use daily are derived from wood. Since ancient times, wood has been the material of choice. So much so, we take it for granted—even in the world of guitar.
Over time, stone, fired brick, steel, glass, concrete, and plastic have replaced wood in much of the modern world, but wood remains a giant industry that shows little sign of slowing down. Yet there are places where wood has been usurped as the substance of choice. No one thinks for a second about making automobiles out of wood anymore, and I’m not interested in flying across the ocean in a wooden airplane either. The most advanced contraptions of today are molded, extruded, formed, and even printed from metals and plastics, so why not guitars?
The idea of alternative materials for guitars isn’t new. The all-metal National resonator guitar arrived in 1927, and the 1928 Stromberg Electro—arguably the first commercially made electric guitar—featured a large metal resonator plate. A few years later, the cast-aluminum “Fry Pan” lap steel guitar was introduced by Rickenbacker Electro. It seemed for a moment that wooden guitars were going the way of the wooden schooner. But somehow in the face of this “progress,” the trees bent, but didn’t break.
That’s not to say that builders stopped trying. Italian luthier Mario Maccaferri, known mostly for designing Django Reinhardt’s Gypsy jazz guitar, was fond of using plastic in a diverse range of musical items. In 1941, he developed a plastic ukulele, and a decade later produced a line of plastic archtop guitars. The “Plastic Mac” was a diminutive instrument of injection molded styrene assembled with common plastic adhesives. Not designed as a toy, the Plastic Mac was a playable, decent-sounding instrument. Notably, the back and neck boasted a brown/black swirl that emulated rosewood. Maccaferri was a visionary infatuated with plastic as a replacement for wood, but his efforts were largely ignored, and he wouldn’t be the last.
In 1966, Charles Kaman, who made his fortune as an aerospace contractor, diversified into music with an acoustic guitar featuring a bowl-shaped fiberglass back. With the help of a massive marketing budget, the Ovation guitar became the most successful plastic guitar in history. Known for their strident tone and thin necks, they were ubiquitous during the power-ballad era of the 1980s. Much of the cult-like popularity of the Ovation resulted from being the first widely distributed guitar with a built-in, under-saddle pickup.
In the solidbody world, Dan Armstrong designed a Lucite guitar (and bass) for Ampeg in 1969. Its see-through plastic body celebrated synthetic material rather than trying to hide it, although the neck was maple. Featuring replaceable pickups created by Bill Lawrence, the Armstrong became somewhat fashionable in rock music despite their 10-plus pounds heft. By 1971, the demand for them had melted away.
Around the same time, a machinist named John Veleno built his first all-aluminum electric guitar. Polished to a mirror finish, the Veleno was a custom-built specialty axe that found favor with a few daring guitarists. Although exciting in appearance, the Veleno was plagued with a cold feel and slicing treble. In a similar vein, the Travis Bean design of 1974 mated aluminum necks to wooden bodies. Although lovely to look at, the Bean guitars didn’t catch on, and later when Kramer guitars tried the same recipe, it too faltered.
As carbon fiber replaced wood in items like tennis rackets, golf clubs, and bicycles, it was inevitable that guitar builders would turn to it for instruments. Early adopters were the basses by Modulus Graphite and England’s Status Graphite. These instruments purported to be impervious to weather. The 1984 Bond Electraglide guitar was also solid graphite, and had a unique, stepped fretboard molded of the same material. Another child of the 1980s was the Steinberger, which was molded mostly in one piece, and had a daring, headless design. A darling of the MTV set, the Steinberger was coveted by many big-name musicians for its ergonomics and appearance, which was perfect for the new-wave look.
In the last three decades, synthetic materials have made inroads, mostly in acoustic instruments including violins, string basses, and guitars. The strength of composites allows instruments to be made with thinner, more responsive parts that rev up to volume with the lightest of touch. (The stillborn Ovation full-carbon-fiber Q guitar had a dynamic range so far beyond wooden guitars that players who tested it couldn’t deal with it.) Today, despite more alternatives to choose from than ever before, it seems as though we just can’t get past the beauty and sound of wood. Consequently, even builders of alternative-material instruments spend a lot of time writing ad copy that references “woody sound,” as the promise of a new tonal spectrum still seems beyond our willingness to give up on tradition.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.