Greg Interviews Cynosure (2019)
The second of no less than five guitars created by Oliver Andrew aka Cynosure for 2019's RAM gallery has been inspired by Friday headliners Sabaton.
Q. What were your inspirations for the Sabaton design?
“I'd heard a few songs but I'd never really got a chance to listen to them as such, but they're one of those bands that are extremely unique in themselves. Their themes are incredible, centred around war and battles and chaos. A sabaton is actually the footwear on a medieval suit of armour, so that was my inspiration along with the war themes. If we have a look at the design itself we can see that around the edge essentially it does feature a sabaton effect which are the plates of metal which create that very particular shape incorporated into the design itself, pretty much all of the left side. The other side is very streamlined and curvaceous because I wanted it to be very comfortable, very ergonomic whilst you're playing it. It's semi-hollow, basically a shell of a guitar, the inside is all routed out. It features a perforated metal sheet atop and that obviously encases all the electronics and front-facing hardware. The reason for using the perforated metal sheet was because it's often used within the military and it's very industrial. The volume and tone controls are made from real twelve gauge shotgun shells, which I actually shot myself, and the fret markers are from an M4 machine gun, which I also shot. So that's very much my personal input into the guitar itself.”
Q. The guitar is internally lit which makes for an incredibly striking effect.
“Yes. It's internally lit with two bands of LED strips on the inside. At night time it's absolutely incredible because it shines up everything around you. That's a huge attraction for it to be played on stage. Because of the perforated metal sheet you can see through to the electronics so I just thought, well, I've never really seen a guitar like this, and it would look so damn cool lit up.”
Q. You've also layered different types of wood within the body creating an interesting sandwich effect.
“That was actually a complete accident! I had spent so much money on the wood and it takes me a long time to source the wood I want for the tone and the theme; I like to choose a type of wood that will go well with the particular theme. With regard to this guitar, the wood was very expensive so I basically used off-cuts from wood I already had. The fretboard is made from wood called Katalox, and I sandwiched that between black walnut, so you get a stripey effect. That effect is used a lot within camouflage, and military and danger warning signs as well, so that sort of ties in rather well. I basically did it to use wood and not purchase more stuff, but I think it worked out pretty well. And several pieces laminated together actually creates a stronger bond.”
Q. The shape is simultaneously familiar yet somewhat unusual.
“I find that more bass guitars tend to have unique shapes than guitars generally. So I was partly inspired by a lot of Warwick basses, which is a German manufacturer. They have some really wacky designs. But the sabaton aspect then took over to make it really individualized.”
Q. Tell us about the hardware and the electronics.
“It's a 25.5 inch scale. The electronics are fairly simple, it's one volume and one tone, and a three-way pick-up switch. However, the volume control does have a push-pull potentiometer. It activates the lights, acting as a switch as well as a volume control. It's a Tune-o-matic bridge like a Les Paul bridge. It's a string-through body, so the strings make contact with the body, as opposed to a tailpiece. That's the main structure behind it, very simple. It's got a medium to high output, and I'd say it's more of a shred guitar. The pick-ups are extremely metal, we're talking a thrashy sound. And because it's semi-hollow, there is a hell of a lot of reverberation on the inside which amplifies the metal sound. It's very distinctive. The pick-ups create the sound which reverberates and then is picked up by the pick-ups as well, so it's extremely metal!”
“The build was absolutely amazing and this is one of my favourite designs ever and such a pleasure to create. I have to say, though, that carving the sabaton plates or flaps was such a pain in the ass! It was so very labour intensive. I had to re-do the lacquering on it so all in all it was about five weeks work just for that. I could have built another guitar within that time!”