Sunday, July 17, 2016

Princes Last Guitar - GUS Guitars

Prince in one of his last concerts with Gus Guitars Purple Special

Simon Farmer - Gus Guitars creator
Simon Farmer stumbled into guitar building by way of being a student and studying design in art school. He eventually received a masters degree in product design at Walter Hampton University.

He had already built his first electric guitars and basses during in his early teen years and went to art school with the intent of designing guitars.

Furniture maker bending metal frame
Farmer states he took his inspiration from a variety of artisans; jewelry makers, furniture makers and other artists. In fact the tubular design of his guitars was influenced from furniture makers that saw using bent chromed steel and aluminum to construct chairs.

While in University he made a series of instruments that he called Git-tubes which were tubes shaped into frames for the guitar/bass bodies. The artist Seal, a bass player and singer, used one of his basses in a video.

Steve Klein Gutiar

While in school Farmer took a break and for a holiday he traveled to California to visit such luthiers as Steve Klein, John Page of Fender and others to get their insights on the guitar building process.

These interactions lead him away from the Git-tube design as he realized these instruments were more sculptural pieces than stringed electric instruments. He faced the reality that the git-tubes did not have the sound he was looking for in a guitar or bass.

He then that he turned his attention to carbon fiber as a basis of a body. To do this Simon Farmer made use of a spectrum analyzer which allowed him to view the frequencies of differing materials.

Farmer building the frame
Farmer realized that carbon fiber was a great choice. After experimenting with this material he concluded that a combination of wood with a carbon fiber veneer produced a superior sound. To this he added his original tubular steel frame to come up with a most unique and abstract series of guitars.

Gus Guitar mold
The core of Simon’s guitars is made of Western red cedar wood or Brazilian cedula wood. The wood is shaped and placed in a mold and acts as a core for the carbon fiber veneer to be poured over.

Gus Guitars G1
His most popular mode, the G1, uses tubular shaped pickups that he creates in his shop using alnico magnets and piezo transducers in the bridge/saddle..

In fact all the parts on his Gus guitars are hand made on his lathe, including the knobs, bridge and vibrato. He does not like “switches” so he utilizes a rotary selector instead of the usual Switchcraft style toggle or lever.

Simon Farmer at Sussex workshop

Simon Farmer also hand polishes all of his instruments. His small workshop is located in East Sussex, U.K.

Gus Guitars G1
The G1 is far from being a basic guitar, but it is the basis for all his guitars. The G1 is fitted with a GUS hard-tail bridge that Mr. Farmer makes in his shop. Possibly the only thing that is not made onsite are the Gotoh 510 tuners and the Schaller strap locks.. The knobs are even milled in-house.

The twin GUS humbucking alnico pickups are wound at the shop and fitted with tubular pickup covers which are built there as well.

Gus Guitars G1 Gold Special
One unique feature on this guitar is the switching system that can turn these twin humbuckers into three single coil pickups. We've discussed the body already. The neck is topped with a Cocobolo fretboard which has 22 frets. The position markers are of Farmer's own unique design and made of white resin. The fretboard includes LED's embedded in the position markers..

The guitar has a unique switching system that uses a rotary switch instead of the usual toggle. And this guitar sounds excellent. The connection input is found on the guitars backside and is molded into the body.

Gus Guitars G1V
The G1 V (vibrato) has the same unique body design, but comes with three GUS single coil pickups encased in metal tubes. The vibrato unit is made by Farmer in his shop and is his own design.

Gus Guitars G1 7

The G7 is similar to the G1, but it is a 7 string guitar.

Gus Guitars G1 Baritone

The G1 Baritone guitar combines the features found on the G1 with a 28.5" scale neck.

Gus Guitars G1 MIDI

The G1 MIDI ( musical instrument digital interface) guitar combines all the features of the G1 along with RMC piezo pickups that connect to the 13-pin MIDI connector on the guitar's backside next to the input jack.

This enables the player to run through a Roland GR-33 or other guitar synthesizer module.

Gus Guitars G1 Piezo
The G1 piezo combines the features found on the G1-V with piezo elements in the guitars bridge that run on a built-in preamp. This guitar enables the player to use a Y-cable to send the piezo feed to one amplifier and the magnetic feed to another.

Gus Guitars Purple Special with matching hardshell case
Perhaps the pinnacle Simon Farmers work is The Purple Special guitar. This is a one-off guitar that Simon Farmer designed especially for Prince. All of the hardware is gold-plated.

Close-up of Purple Special

The guitars body is purple and the fretboard is constructed of purple composite fiber.

Purple Special holographic fret inlays
The inlaid position markers are made of holographic gold carbon fiber. This guitar has one single coil pickup in the neck position and one humbucking pickup in the bridge position. There is a piezo pickup in the bridge, but no preamp.

The controls feature a single volume and tone control and a three-way toggle switch. The tuners are gold-plated Gotoh non-locking machines. Prince only got to use this guitar once in concert. He had planned on having a second guitar built. It is a gorgeous instrument.

The Purple Special guitar comes with a GUS guitar designed custom made molded purple case with a gold-plated aluminum handle and a plush interior.

Simon Farmer with a Gus G3 Five Bass
The GUS bass guitar series is made in a similar fashion, but with a different body shape. The aluminum tubular structures the make up the horns do not encircle the body, but jut out from the upper portion of the instrument.

Gus G3 Four Bass

The G3 Four is the GUS 4 string bass guitar. This instrument includes two passive single coil pickups that are linked to a four way rotary switch.

This system allows the pickups to function has humbuckers (in tandem) or in as single coil pickups. The guitar has an in-shop designed hard tail bridge/saddle that has piezo elements to give an even fuller sound.. It comes with single volume and tone controls. The fretboard is made of cocobola with white resin position markers that contain LED's. The machine heads are Gotoh model 510's.

Gus G3 Five Bass
The G3 Five not only adds another string, but comes with twin GUS humbucking pickups. This model can be purchased with the standard 34" scale neck or special ordered with a 35" scale.

Five aircraft grade aluminum bridge pieces clamp to a 1/4" bridge plate to anchor the strings and increase this basses sustain. The bridge saddles also contain piezo elements for a bigger sound.

Both the G3 Four and Five can be ordered with an active three-band EQ system to achieve even more bass sounds. Instead of just a tone control these bass guitars come with stacked switches to enable the user can get active treble, mid-range and bass sounds along with the volume and four-way rotary control.

Gus G3 Baritone

Simon Farmer also offers a baritone version of the GUS G3 bass. This is a six string instrument that is tuned A to A.

It comes with all the accouterments of the standard G3, including two single coil alnico tube pickups. piezo bridge pickups and the four-way rotary control.

The G3 MIDI bass combines all the aspects of the G3 bass with the added feature of piezo pickups that are connected to a 13-pin MIDI output. This enables the bass to  be hooked up to a MIDI synth unit to achieve a myriad of bass sounds, or any other sort of sound that the synth unit can produce .

Gus Guitars
GUS guitars are extraordinary functioning works of art. I've looked for prices and believe they start in the £3500 to £5000 range.

Click on the links under the pictures for their sources and links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publishing (text only)


millo lailang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
millo lailang said...

Never saw these guitars before. Nice looking and very unique. I especially like the look of the bass guitars though I'm not a bass guitarist.

marcus ohara said...

They sound nice too. Thanks for stopping by.


Aaron Aaron said...

Incredible look and sound and concept. I can't get over how well these guitars fuse together super modern style and functionality. It would make art students and engineers equally happy.

Anonymous said...

In summary, anything that you have to put together is probably not going to get played as much as you think when you consider that you are traveling to far away places to see people and the least hassle to playing the guitar, the better.

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当当老师 said...

such a creative mind and dedication. will place an order for sure. the only problem is, which G1 should I get...

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Anonymous said...

Pickups are actually made by Kent Armstrong, not Simon