Jim Normandy builds solidbodies and hollowbody guitars from aluminum.
"If it isn’t fun, we’re not fucking doing it," says Jim Normandy. This
was the motto that ultimately uprooted Normandy Guitars founder
and CEO out of the white-collared world of banking and placed him
in the land of luthiers. That and, of course, his love for guitars.
When Normandy was ensconced in the stringent corporate world, he adopted different rules and alternative methods to get the job done. So it’s no surprise that when he wanted to construct an acoustic bass for himself 15 years ago, he thought of everything but wood. He considered plastic, fiberglass, and other composite materials before landing on aluminum. "After I dialed in the perfect thickness and grade of aluminum, the instrument took on tonal characteristics all its own," Normandy says. "Aluminum is brighter and sustains longer than a wood guitar. It also doesn’t feedback like wood."
Doing things different is one of Normandy’s quirks, but he insists it’s not a gimmick. "Aluminum is much more consistent and dependable than wood," Normandy says. "The designs for the guitars are on a CAD machine, and we use lasers to cut out the aircraft-grade aluminum so the consistency is spot-on every time we make a guitar." Then, he welds the pieces together. Although Normandy acknowledges that woodworking is an art form, he compares his use of aluminum and lasers to what traditional builders do with wood and hand tools. He feels that each time he makes a guitar, there’s that elusive X factor that makes a guitar special.
Some purists may scoff at the idea of using aluminum, but Normandy says every guitarist he’s gotten to strap on and plug in a Normandy has been converted. "All I have to do is get it in a guitar player’s hands and get them to play one and they’re hooked," he says. "They might be skeptics beforehand, but once they hit those first few chords, they realize it has that special tone mojo not found in wood."
"Guitarists are creatures that can be easily weirded out," says Normandy. "That’s why I keep a lot of the specs on the Alumicaster very similar to that of the standard Telecaster." The aluminum body is slab shaped and contoured very similarly to its wooden inspiration. The body is hollow except for aluminum blocks under the neck joint and the bridge that help transfer sound waves. The Alumicaster comes standard with two Seymour Duncan pickups—a Custom Custom humbucker in the bridge and a Hot Tele in the neck. It has a four-screw, bolt-on hard rock maple neck and a rosewood fretboard.
Black Crow Engraved Alumicaster
This custom model features a black, anodized-aluminum body with laser-cut floral and crow designs. The model shown here has the same setup as a standard Alumicaster but has a maple fretboard instead of rosewood.
"When I crafted this instrument, I wanted to create something practical," says Normandy. "For a lot of players, big semi-hollow guitars are too cumbersome and fat to allow a player comfort and a proper reach." His Archtop model is about an inch wider at the lower bout than a Les Paul, and it’s loaded with custom Normandy humbuckers for high output and powerful midrange. It has a hard rock maple neck and a rosewood fretboard. Although the large rivets on the guitar’s face were initially for aesthetic appeal, they also hold the guitar together. "I remember one day I pulled up next to this yellow school bus and I saw those rivets and thought, 'Oh yeah—those are badass and industrial.'"
Pricing and Availability
Normandy Alumicasters start at around $1500, though prices vary depending on finish and other options. The Archtop models range from $1999 to $3000. Normandy is also launching an online custom shop where customers can order custom finishes, necks, and electronics at the level of detail exemplified by the Black Crow Alumicaster.
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
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: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
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