Aaro was a guy I met at a flea market here in Helsinki. We’d been to several that day and we agreed this would be the last one when my girlfriend introduced me to him, knowing we were both nuts about guitars. We started chatting and it wasn’t long before all kinds of guitar related ideas were flying around this temple of old ski boots and lonely coffee cups. Aaro had an idea for a guitar that no one had been too keen to build him, namely a maple guitar, 100% made of maple. The idea started to appeal to me more and more the longer we talked and ideas emerged: 20 inch fretboard radius with 24 stainless steel frets and 25,5 inch scale, two humbuckers but no tone circuit, physically small body so it wouldn’t weigh a ton, fixed bridge, locking tuners…
A design we’d talked about was the N4, Nuno Bettencourts signature guitar, which we both liked and my friend Doug Blair (W.A.S.P) happened to have one so I could study it up close. I thought of making the headstock even smaller, so naturally a 2+4 (reverse) design fitted the bill.
The weight of the body would seriously have been a problem if left unsolved, so I went ahead and split the body in two, routed out some material and glued it back together.
The neck was done the same way, split in two, routing of the truss rod channel and gluing.
In fact, all the wood came from the same plank, so if it moves because of humidity I’m hoping it wont warp too much.
My goal, with this particular guitar, was to make an extremely playable swiss army knife kind of an instrument but with minimal visual clutter. Set up wise I wanted to be able to keep a straight neck with low action to compliment the 20 inch radius, one can always raise the action to suit your style, but keeping it very low without fret buzz can sometimes be tricky. Since we skipped the tone circuit all together, I only had deal with a switch and two volume pots. To make it as flexible as possible I chose a six position free-way switch which lets you choose all sorts of single coil and out of phase options on top of the ordinary ones.
The humbuckers I chose to wind myself since I had a pretty clear idea of what would sound good in this guitar. To make them super hot was out of the question, slightly more vintage spec suited the guitar better and didn’t make them muffled and compressed as humbuckers sometimes are.
There is always a risk when you want to make a guitar that is able to do everything and produce every sound you can imagine, there is a good chance it won’t really excel at anything, but by narrowing down your options to the essentials there is a good chance you even surprise yourself at how good it sounds.