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The Hall E Crawl...Its a Mod[ular], Mod[ifieable], Mod[ern] World

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I spoke at length with Mark Stadnyk, CEO and creator of Forida-based Somnium Guitars ["]www.somniumguitars.com]. His journey into modular manufacturing stemmed from his realization that “one guitar” would never be perfect for every situation...unless it could be infinitely “reconfigurable”. Using his existing machine shop from his other business, Mark began breaking down the conventional guitar into segments. The process, including patent applications has taken over two years, but with a patent issued and another pending, Mark felt this was the time to show the Somnium concept to the world.


There is pretty much nothing that can't be swapped, flipped, inverted or replaced; from the headstock to the bridge, the body 'wings', the pickups, the fingerboard...Somnium deconstructs the instrument and allows every functional component to be altered, creating the tinkerer's dream 'testbed'.

Want a hard tail and a Floyd? Do-able!

Want a maple fingerboard and a rosewood? Certainly!

Want two humbuckers that can be rotated to put the bridge at the neck and vice versa? Can do! Just flip the pickup module, it has connections at both ends.

Want three single coils, H-S-S, H-S-H, H-H? Can do, plus you can swap in different manufacturers p-ups with a couple of screwdrivers and no soldering.

Want a maple/mahogany neck rather than the aluminum? They can set up a wooden neck to fit their one bolt, locking dual dove-tail neck system.

Don't like the headstock shape on the aluminum neck, or want a locking nut to go with that Floyd? Done.

Want to change your Tele to an Explorer shape? Simple!


Although final pricing is not set at this writing, Mark wants the 'standard' Somnium to street in the $1500 range, additional components and modifications are yet to be priced.


Although Somnium was certainly the oustanding entry into modular guitar concepts this year, there were other builders exploring the possibilites, three of which I examined to varying degrees.


I had the pleasure of chatting with Jordi Espelt of Pons Guitars ["]www.ponsguitars.com], a Spanish [barcelona] company which is beginning to penetrate the European market with their patented 'Revolution' guitar; two 'core' units which can have the body swapped to seven recognizable shapes. Some of you may remember Pons for their skateboard inspired 'skateguitars', the brain-child of David and Oscar Pons. There was one on display in the 'boutique guitar show case' in Hall C during the show.


The new 'core' concept is based on somewhat more traditional lines, but allowing some non-traditional outcomes. The two 'cores' are universally recognizable. One, the 'Pol' is a 3+3 headstock/neck with a dual humbucker pick-up confihuration. The second core, the 'Jan' is a six in-line Fender-style headstock/neck and S-S-S pickup configuration.


Both cores can be mated to seven body shapes: Exlorer, LP, Offset, JEM, Tele, V, or SG. This presents the opportunity to generate some very interesting combinations, particularly with the Gibson inspired bodies and the Fender inspired core, like a S-S-S Lester, Explorer, V or SG.


The other two remaining modular manufacturers that I found on the Hall E Crawl are Korean manufacturer Ogre Guitars and Californian Oz Guitar Works.


Unfortunately, I was unable to schedule an interview with Eungsoo Lee, R&D Director of Ogre, but I did get a look at the basic modularized guitars, which are aimed more to the 'metal' and 'Goth' markets. The guitars have changeable body 'wings', and necks with an antiqued metallic finish, essentially the same as their 'standard' guitars...which are quite eye-catching.


Also unfortunately, 'Oz' Anderson, with whom I met, had no actual instruments available for NAMM. His product the 'Tau-6', is a 'minimalist headless guitar', based off of a central aluminum core casting which will house the pick-ups, controls and stereo outputs, as well as an optional on-board pre-amp.


Oz is also 're-inventing' the fine tuning bridge, eliminating the baseplate and resting the string guides directly on the cast housing. The housing itself will have internal carbon fiber reinforcement to add rigidity and stability, as well as insulation for the internal pick-up and control module. The housing is also designed to extend below the ends of the bridge tuners.

The core is designed to mate with any standard four-bolt neck, and requires no backplate. The headstock removal can be done by the end user or Oz will modify to 'almost headless', leaving just a small 'top-knot' that would allow the guitar to be hung, and could keep the guitar from slipping out of the player's hand.



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Edited by daddymack
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