Stone Instruments: Musical Instruments and Ceramic

The use of ceramic to make musical instruments has an ancient origin… Maybe not as old as ceramic itself but still! The Arabian darbuka (goblet drum or chalice drum) is a wonderful example of such instruments though the modern production tends to use metal or wood instead of the fragile ceramic! Browsing through the guitarz blog I came across a ceramic bodied guitar!!

What a rich idea… The instrument is decorative and pretty original. In the following video you can hear it, and though I think it could be perfectible I think it has some potential to play some roots folk music.

You can watch the making-of video of this guitar on the guitarz blog to hear Gabe Turow explaining further some of his choices and concerns (as the neck fixation that is rather strange)

Gabe Turow who is behind Stone Instruments exclusively builds ceramic musical instruments:

Percussions as ceramic has some very interesting percussive properties: darbouka, djembe, bongo, udu.
Stringed instruments: guitar, banjo, ukulele.
Thumb pianos (kalimba)

All of this reminds that one day I’ll have to bring back my old darbuka from my folks home. That day my neighbors will have a fair reason to hate me…

If you want to know more: check the Stone Instruments website and the Stone Instruments Youtube Channel that is stuffed with a lot of videos of Gabe Turow’s creations. Here are some pictures of his ceramic instruments:

Feeltune Rhizome: Ultimate Groove Machine?

Let’s talk about something not guitary at all… If I want to tell you about the Rhizome made by the French company Feeltune it is because this device is absolutely phenomenal but also because I was part of a panel gathered to test, and give their opinion about the Feeltune Rhizome. People attending these meetings were musicians pros, semi-pros, amateurs, and well me.

So I’ve been able to try the Rhizome a couple of times in very good conditions (few people, small room, and cattering), and I had an insight on the development of this device, and the process behind the conception over 1,5 year (more or less). The Rhizome is an instrument, a MIDI controller, and a computer designed for home-studio use as well as for live performances.

Obviously this is mostly made for Electronica, and Dance music but based on what I saw, and heard I am rather sure that it is quite versatile, and could be used for some other genres. The Rhizome comes with 40 VST and VSTi but it is made to import your own virtual instruments, and effects. The operating system of the machine is an optimized version of Windows XP, and that makes the Rhizome compatible with a wide variety if not the majority of available VST/VSTi. Obviously it also has a sequencer to compose, and for real-time recording what is played with the Virtual instruments.

I’ll quickly talk about the connectors as I don’t remember all the details but you’ll find them on Feeltune website. It has MIDI, and USB connectors which allow to plug a lot of hardware (an additional controller such as a keyboard controller to expand the possibilities offered by the 16 pads of the Rhizome). The Rhizome also has Audio inputs so that you can plug actual instruments instead of only using VSTi. Notice that we didn’t talk much about this feature as Nicolas Piau (inventor of the Rhizome, and founder of Feeltune) is mostly an Electronica dude.

Needless to say that the Rhizome is not easy to use in the first place (especially when you are not familiar with the MIDI controllers, and groove machines world) yet it is quite intuitive. And watching Nicolas live composing a tune from scratch is something rather impressive, and it suggests that a little training should allow you to quickly be able to put your first tunes together.

So the Rhizome is a solution entirely dedicated to computer music but it doesn’t require you to use the home computer because this workstation called The Rhizome is the computer, the sequencer, the controller, and the instrument! The Rhizome is to be launched around October. As for the price, it is not officially announced yet, and I’m not going to tell you the price the told us during the meetings as I signed a confidentiality agreement that I want to respect! [EDIT: I finished that note, and I checked the website that has been updated with the price ranging from 3 199€ to 3 599€]

Check that official demo video of the Rhizome…

Custom Made Visual Pickguards by Didier Guyot-Viviane

Beyond the sound and usability, there is nothing that resembles more to a guitar than another guitar of the same series visually speaking. Many guitarists and bass players, openly or shamefully, personalize their instruments. Either they go for a drastic customization or discrete visual improvements… There are many possibilities for every taste, and any personality.

My friend Pentaminor recently introduced me to Didier Guyot Viviane, who is a furniture designer, but also is a graphic designer / guitarist for our matter of interest. A few years ago Didier had the idea to apply the photographic projection method that he uses on his furniture in order to make a custom pickguard for his Fender Stratocaster. After experimenting a lot, he ended up digging the formula to produce the best quality pickguards in terms of visual impact, strength and stability.

The photographic projection method? Despite repeated assaults and torture when we met at the Starbuck Coffee at Pigalle (yeah, next to the Moulin Rouge), Didier did not reveal any making-of secret. Nevertheless, here is the key concept to understand: it is a photographic printing on a resin in which the image is included instead of photo paper. The process is interesting because it ensures the sustainability of the visual that is not only the surface of the pickguard, but melted into the mass of the resin. Believe you me, I saw some models that he made and the visual aspect is superb!

Above all Didier is an artist so he mainly produced ultra-limited series of models (mostly Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jazz Bass and Precision Bass pickguards), but even more interesting Didier also works on unique designs demanded by his clients. The principle is simple and Didier offers several possibilities:

  • An image that you would like see on your guitar or bass pickguard? All you have to do is send him the image that he will edit for the best result on the pickguard.
  • You want to customize a pickguard but you don’t have any graphic designer skills? Didier can work this out for you to produce your unique pickguard. Believe me, his graphic creations are beautiful!
  • If your pickguard has an unusual shape or simply is a different model than those previously cited, well you will just have to send him the original pickguard to allow him to make an exact replica.

All the pickguards are ready for shielding and each copy is numbered and signed (on the back of the pickguard). The models from his catalog  cost 60 €. The unique pickguards made on demand cost 90 € , and a 2 weeks waiting to receive your custom pickguard.

Now the cool news of the day is that me and Didier we agreed to launch a giveaway with 2 pickguards to win on Muzicosphere:

  • One custom pickguard for guitar
  • One custom pickguard for bass

Later today Wednesday morning, I will publish 2 posts to explain how to participate and try to win one of these 2 custom pickguards made by Didier Guyot-Viviane.

Update: The game has started, and you can try to win either custom pickguard for guitar or a custom pickguard for bass.

Check out the pickguards website of Didier Guyot-Viviane if you want to see more of his creations.