The Michelangelo of Guitars
21st Century Luthier, entrepreneur, visionary guitar designer, engineer and inventor.
Gives us our first look at what our future guitars will look like. You wanna peek?
Warp 9 Engage!
When one looks at the new designs and technology of guitars built today, you can’t help but wonder what they will become in say oh Star Date 4525 lol. Okay so I’ll do without the StarTrek quotes.
The Luthier of Ridgewing Guitars is Tim White, who 30 years ago had a dream to build a full size guitar that could be disassembled into smaller parts to make it more compact for travel.
The Start of a Journey
The first guitar that they experimented on was called the Black 12. This was 1981.
In the early years the design was of a standard acoustic guitar, but made out of leather.
The top was left off and a grill was made out of graphite fiber then attached to the leather body, enclosing a Mylar balloon that was inside the body.
From this came a louder sounding guitar with a great tone.
Set Backs Along the Way
According to Tim White, in 1982 he said the second prototype called BIG UGLY didn’t sound very good as it had a few issues to over come and was regarded as a disaster.
Another one of the issues was the body being made out of leather, also made it extremely heavy. One of the three positive features about this instrument though was, “it had a cool grill”.
Not knowing where to go next with his design, the project was put on hold for a time.
The Chrysalis Design started to take form over the following 15 years.
This next guitar had to reproduce the sound that the earlier Black 12 did. It also had to be disassembled then reassembled with little to no effort at all.
This is Not So Simple
The next was what is called THE BOX that was in 1997. Yep this was a literal wooden box! with a neck on it.
On the front was the grill material they were working with it to see what grill would sound good.
And what material to make the grill from in order to deal with the string tension. Also the back of this box was open in order to test different types of inflatable devices to see which was better for acoustic performance.
The data collected from this allowed them to continue the design of what was called the Chrysalis Guitar.
At this point Tim White created a prototype that could literally be collapsed and put in a small case.
In 1998 the grillwork was taking design. Based on the dragonfly wings, CAD design software was used to create this grill. I guess there really isn’t much that you can’t do with a computer and a program!
Shared By a Few Friends
Fast forward to 2000. Only a handful of the prototypes have been let out at this point. Only a few lucky people had the opportunity to have one of these guitars. Musician Harvey Reid was one of those people.
He points out that among the many attributes of his Chrysalis Guitars that after a decade they have not needed maintenance.
Guitar collector Ed Roman had gotten a couple of these guitars. One of which I understand he would keep for his own personal collection. Ed Romans Guitars at the time listed the Chrysalis Guitar as “One of the Most Collectable Guitars Available”.
Still considered today the biggest guitar collector around. Although I haven’t been there in a few years, I’v arranged for you a Guided Tour of Roma Guitars with a few close friends.
Also The Museum of Fine Arts Boston added one of the Chrysalis Guitars to their collection, then they commissioned a composer to create a piece for the guitar then add the recording of the piece to it archives.
In 2000 the Chrysalis Guitar appeared on the front cover of Guitar Player Magazine. As It was getting great press and a lot of praise at this point.
At this time production of the guitar was not practical, due to costs and construction of its components. So again it was shelved after its first 14 prototypes were completed.
Then only those few people had the pleasure of owning one of these guitars.
The Final Frontier
Fast forward to 2012 Mr White started his new company called Ridgewing shortly after meeting Arjun Mendhi. Research and development resumed shortly there after.
In 2014 Tim White put together a small team of designers and craftsmen in his shop in New Boston NH.
In January 2015, three prototypes of the Chrysalis guitar have been completed. RidgeWing Guitars was also at the NAMM Show in California.
RidgeWing Guitars is launching at SXSW Festival in Austin Texas March 13 – 21, 2015
Even before this launch they have on the table self-tuning headstocks, electronic chargeable bridge with a built-in pre-amp and ultra light necks.
Offering guitarists unlatch personalization, acoustics and playing experience.
Chrysalis Guitar Demo – Harvey Reid
This is truly an amazing story, theres so much more to it than what I’ve said. And you would do well to go read the entire thing here. And see for yourself what the future of the Best Travel Guitars is going to look like!
And its for the professional player, as its a full performance guitar as well.
Currently they are taking orders for the Chrysalis Guitars on a custom order basis. Visit RidgeWing.com for details.
Well there you have it and it was a lot of fun putting this together for you. I do hope you have enjoyed this. I look forward to your next visit to Treble Clef Reviews.
Until the next time, Markus to Enterprise one to beam up! 🙂
What do you think our guitars are going to look like in another 50 years? Leave a comment and don’t forget to Share