Saturday, 6 October 2007

The desired design expression of the T-beam guitar

Very early in the design process, I've had a quite clear idea of what the T-beam guitar will look like. I expect the combination of wood and aluminium to result in a very classic look. Not classic in the guitar sense, but rather in an automotive sense.

From when I was young, I've liked the steering wheels of old sports cars. This particular type of wheel had a body made from steel or aluminium with a wooden rim riveted to it.

English Walnut, © Mike Lempert, used with permission

To me, such a wheel was (and actually still is) one of the classiest single modifications, you could make on your everyday car. My then brother-in-law had a Nardi wheel of this type in his otherwise very ordinary Toyota Corolla. It was back before you had airbags and various controls in the steering wheel, so it was a relatively easy modification. All you had to mount on the new wheel was the button for the horn. I borrowed the car for a while and came to appreciate the wheel for its ergonomics as well as its good looks.

The essential thing of such a steering wheel - design wise - is the thick body of metal sandwiched between beautiful wood, often riveted to the body.

Bolivian Rosewood, © Mike Lempert, used with permission

This much talk about the steering wheels might lead one to believe that they will be the major focus of design. This is not the case; the wheels are just a great source of inspiration. I am not building a steering wheel themed guitar. I don't want people to think "steering wheel" when they see the guitar. But I am looking for the same design expression. The same expression which, by the way, can also be found in some knives with wooden handles.

© Donovan Govan, Chef's Knife, subject to GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

Since the T-beam guitar is made from a relatively thick aluminium beam with body, neck and fretboard made from wood, it almost automatically will have the same type of look as steering wheels and knives described above. Still, there are things I can do to make the style of the guitar even more in the direction of "wood riveted to metal". For example, I plan on using brass discs for fret markers. This way, the markers will resemble the rivets holding the rim of the steering wheel. Also, I plan on using a fairly dark wood, preferably walnut - as on the steering wheel in the first of the above pictures.

I hope the above gives an idea of what I am aiming for. If it also explains why I expect the T-beam guitar to be phenomenally beautiful, I'll consider this attempt of explanation a success.