Rippling Brook is a very special guitar commissioned for well-known local guitarist Tim Bedner. As an extremely accomplished technical player, he knew the features he wanted in a custom-made guitar, and entrusted me to bring them to life.
It's a guitar that's meant to be more comfortable to play than the usual shape. The knee rest holds the nut up high, with the neck angling naturally upwards at about 45 degrees. The other side functions as an armrest for the right hand, and is smoothly bevelled for comfort.
It has a multiscale fretboard- the bass strings are longer than the treble strings, thus allowing the easy playability of a short scale on the higher strings, while still keeping the better tone and intonation of a long scale in the lower register. The frets of course have to be slanted so that they will be in correct location for every note. Surprisingly it takes ones hands very little time to get used to it.
The bridge is something pretty special. To cope with the seven strings and narrow spacing, these are individual units from the german company ABM. They were hand made to order because the bottom three strings have pickups built right into the saddles! These go through a Graph-Tech Ghost system, and out through a separate jack from the regular pickup (a seven-string Imperial Humbucker by Jason Lollar), so Tim can essentially accompany himself on bass.
Incorporating tuning machines into the bridge means that the neck end is much lighter. This reduces fatigue on the left hand by enabling it to concentrate on playing the notes, not holding up the neck.
The body is strikingly wedge-shaped. It's narrow up top for comfort, but wide where it sits on the knee to provide a stable base. Also the onboard electronics demanded a fairly deep cavity. The other ergonomic aspect of this is that it angles the face of the fretboard slightly upwards, helping the player to see what he's doing. Last of all, it's hollow. The black walnut core is almost entirely carved away in the inside, and then has thin skins of that incredible butterscotch quilted maple applied to the front and back. This reduces the weight of the guitar substantially (it is noticeably lighter than a standard strat-type electric). It also makes it semi-acoustic. The idea behind this was to make the tone more mellow and interesting, but it is surprisingly loud acoustically- plenty enough for personal practice.
Here it is in action: