Reader Guitar of the Month: Hapas Kayzer 8FF

An 8-string named “Columbus” makes its way across the Atlantic.

Name: Arnold Hablewitz

Location: Rockford, Illinois

Guitar: Kayzer 8FF by Hapas Guitars

My guitar was built by Hapas Guitars in Berlin, Germany, by luthier Robert Solas. The model is known as the Kayzer 8FF and was nicknamed “Columbus” by Solas because it’s the first of his instruments to make it across the Atlantic.

In early 2014, I was fully engrossed in 8-string playing, but I found most off-the-wall 8-strings were lacking in tone, resonance, and overall playability. This mostly stemmed from the 27" scale they all seemed to have, which had way too much string tension on the high strings and way too little on the low strings. I decided I needed a custom axe built to my specs.

I began with a long list of luthiers and custom shops. Then I made three lists to help me rifle through my options: 1.) Non-negotiables that I needed. 2.) Non-negotiables I didn’t want. 3.) Things I liked that weren’t deal-breakers, but that could be deal-makers. In the end, Hapas was chosen because of how accommodating Robert was to my vision of my dream instrument.

I received my dream guitar in March of 2015. It has a swamp ash body, a 5-piece rosewood/ebony neck with a swamp ash headstock, and a rosewood fretboard with 24 stainless steel frets. The scale length is a perfect solution to my aforementioned issues with a 26"-28" fanned-fret configuration. The pickups are Seymour Duncan Custom Shop Jazz (neck) and Alternative 8 (bridge) “slanted soapbars” to accommodate the fan. The finish is a thin, hand-rubbed red stain that really allows the wood to resonate with each note. It’s actually already wearing down in spots because I cannot put this instrument down.

Not only is it my go-to 8-string, it has become my only 8-string. I literally didn’t even touch my others after I received this—they became expendable. PG

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