So I was going through a bunch of old pics the other day on CD's looking for guitars I made and found some good stuff for you to look at. I won't do a big write up on Wandre as there's sites out there that have good info. This is more a look and drool blog story and a a chance for me to have a rant.......
As I've always been fascinated in aluminium necks (I have made a few over the years, see previous blogs) and alternative materials I'd always wanted to own a Wandre as they were one of the first to think outside the box when it came to making guitars. I still love his ideas and aesthetics. I think this is a work of art as well as an instrument. However, they're not that easy to come by .........
I'd been searching for Travis Beans, Kramers etc and a friend in Japan that helped me buy guitars contacted me with "a strange one" and he didn't know what it was. He wanted to know if I was interested as he knew well what I liked and thought it looked ....... strange enough to be mine. Sure enough, it certainly was. When I opened the pic I knew instantly what it was. Those great plastic and aluminium parts just jumped off the screen at me. It was beautiful.
It turned up a few weeks later and I unpacked it and tuned it up. What a great guitar, in every way. It was so unconventional in it's construction it was a pure joy to look at and study. It played "surprisingly" well. I say surprisingly because it looked like it shouldn't. It sounded ......... AMAZING. Thick, full, lots of sustain, really amazing.
The body is hollow plastic with a type of floating hybrid aluminium neck. It is very utilitarian in it's construction. It almost looks like it was made by someone in their backyard shed, but that's totally part of it's appeal. I think hand made stuff should look HAND MADE with those little imperfections and things that "just" don't quite fit. I love it. Despite, or maybe because of this construction it sounded great and probably surprising to some "purists" ,it sounded like ......... a guitar.
I'm a big fan of ANY manufacturer who tried something new, even if the world isn't ready for it. Travis Bean had it right, no doubt about it. We should be using modern methods and materials to make guitars out of. There's two very strong arguments for this. One, timber is a finite material and is essential to us living on this planet and most of the "good" guitars are made out of rainforest timbers which is far too precious to this earth to make something as silly as a guitar out of. Second, timber is such an inconsistent and inappropriate material to make something that is supposed to be consistent out of. No two pieces are the same, even out of the same tree. It moves under stress, humidity, tension and heat. It's unpredictable once cut and machined. So why do we use it ?
Because most guitarists, despite being "artists" and thinking they're forward thinking are some of the most conservative people I've ever met. They are so brand driven in their choices of product it amazes me. For the most part they insist on guitars being made like a Tele or Les Paul. They insist on their valve amp being like an old Tweed. It is the same as saying we have come no-where in the last sixty years. It's like saying there have been no advances in technology or materials since Leo decided to screw together a guitar out of furniture building materials and call it an instrument. We have so much available to use now that would work much better for making guitars out of that would be better for consistency, better for playability and better for the earth. We REALLY do. But guitarists in general won't buy them.
We can look back at manufacturers like Wandre and say, "that's weird and I wouldn't play one" OR you can look at it and say "that's amazing, he's made a perfectly playable guitar out of what can now be sustainable or recycled materials without any problem of consistency AND it sounds great, why aren't we making guitars like this now ?" It's your choice. I know what I say.
Oh yeah, enjoy the pics too.