Even if you did he never carried any of his instruments of the same name, you may know that Les Paul designed one of the first solid-body electric guitars. Surprisingly, Gibson, who made the guitar, feared that this radical new direction in instrument design would fail, and did not even show the prototypes to the public for years.
But the Gibson Les Paul was far from the first electric guitar. In 1931, the first commercially sold electrically amplified string instrument was a simple, all-metal guitar made of cast aluminum, nicknamed “Frying Pan,” and one Adolph Rickenbacker invented electromagnetic pickups.
Now, 90 years later, Kassell, Germany’s industrial designer Robin Stummvoll, founder of Verso Musical Instruments, is back in business, and seems to be inspired by the humble beginnings of the electric guitar. With no formal training as a luthier, Stummvoll has decided to reduce the electric guitar to its bare minimum, reducing the amount of materials used to make each instrument.
“There’s a guitar made in the 70’s by Allan Gittler [held in the MoMA design collection] It’s basically just a steel rod with welded steel frets, ”says Stummvoll.“ It’s really the bare minimum that a guitar has to be, but it’s very complicated to build and very expensive. So my approach was something that could be done. built in a smaller store, but it creates a new perspective on the lottery. “
Instead of a piece of wood, the body of the Cosmo is a carefully folded powder-coated steel sheet. This ergonomic shape not only houses the circuits needed for the guitar to work, but also allows for an innovative approach to the placement of the pickups, transducers that capture the mechanical vibrations of the strings and convert them into electrical signals that can then be amplified. and play. a speaker.
The pickups are usually screwed to the body of a guitar, but where they are placed affects the tone of the sound created. That’s why you see several pickups in different locations, for example, a Fender Stratocaster or a Les Paul. Stummvoll has made his pads mobile so they can be moved and placed wherever the player wants.
“It was a happy accident,” Stummvoll explains. “It was not the intention.” Because the pads are magnetic, they stick naturally to the surface of the Cosmo’s metal body. Realizing the potential benefits of this in terms of sound versatility, Stummvoll made it a feature. You can watch and listen to some YouTube demos of this changing sound.
“It has its own character and sound, a very warm, resonant tone with a lot of harmonic content, but it’s not at all weird or weird,” Stummvoll says. “I’d say it’s between electric guitar and acoustic guitar, because you have those added nuances, but more towards electricity.”
In addition to the $ 1,781 Cosmo (€ 1,710) and the brand’s bass Gravis, Stummvoll has now released its latest creation, the $ 1,935 Orbit (€ 1,860), a baritone guitar. In addition to the Verso mobile pickups, Stummvoll says the Orbit’s 28.5-inch (720 mm) long scale offers this instrument a precise, grainy bass response in standard B-to-B or A-affinities. a A, while this added length also seems to provide a lot of support.
Stummvoll also states that “the natural microphone effect of the Orbit is less pronounced than in Cosmo, making it even more suitable for distorted sounds.” Metal fans, take note.