Solid Thinbody Electric Acoustic
Double cutaway, flamed maple,
mahogany, African ebony.
Solid Thinbody Acoustic Electric
Single cutaway, Sitka spruce,
mahogany, ebony, rosewood.
When Guild Guitars was put up for sale in the late ‘80s, Martin sent a crew to Rhode Island to look at the facility and consider the viability of purchasing the company. In spite of their many problems, Guild had one model called The Songbird that caught my eye. It was clearly designed for a crossover market that bridged the gap between the acoustic and electric worlds. Electric players were intimidated with acoustic guitars and vice versa, so the successful Songbird was their attempt to split the difference with a thin-bodied acoustic electric that would appeal to both factions.
With this at the forefront of my mind. I returned to Nazareth and started construction of a thin and lightweight instrument with two symmetrical cutaways that gave the basic front-on appearance of an electric guitar, but without the usual humbucking pickups. Instead, I installed an active version of Fishman’s Thinline acoustic bridge pickup that one might expect would produce a more acoustic sound.
In my experimentation with electric guitars and basses, I had become convinced that one-piece through-the-body necks with pre-angled neck sets were more cohesive and elegant than glued or bolted necks. This was a key feature of my flamed maple-topped acoustic electric, but upon completion it seemed that a top with a traditional soundhole and rosette might yield a more appropriate acoustic appearance, especially if it were ever to be a Martin product. So I made another prototype, this one with a single cutaway, an ebony soundhole and the face-view appearance of an acoustic guitar. The result was quite attractive, comfortable to hold and Martin-esque in its styling, though the amplified tone seemed to lack resonance and warmth. Regardless, the guitar was stunning and any tonal shortcomings could be remedied with slight modifications to the electronics.
The sad reality was that having failed in the electric guitar department so many times, Martin wasn’t going to be in any mood to jump in for another round. And though my second prototype was innovative and looked like an acoustic guitar, it was merely a sheep in wolf’s clothing destined, I’m afraid, like so many of my other projects, to occupy a dark cold space under the eave of my attic.