Greg Interviews Cynosure (2021)
The third guitar that designer Oliver Andrew aka Cynosure has created for the next instalment of the RAM Gallery is inspired by 2021 Bloodstock headliner Devin Townsend.
Q. Devin Townsend is an extremely versatile musician whose back catalogue branches into so many areas of heavy music. How did you first discover his work?
“I'm sort of embarrassed to say this because I'm almost like a new fan and recently discovered his work. Obviously the name has been around for such a long time and I have heard certain pieces before, Strapping Young Lad songs etc., but I never really equated it to his potential as a solo artist. He's just phenomenal. His vocal range and guitar skills are incredible. I've been able to fully engage myself to understand his songs, his lyrics, and I understand his mass appeal.”
Q. How did you approach the design process for this guitar?
“This one was a bit more difficult. I'd always see the iconic Devin Townsend Project logo and I knew he was a fan of electronic wizardry, so I knew there would have to be an element that was very technologically based. But it terms of the design itself, it was very difficult until the point when we had a telephone conversation. From that point we both agreed on a potential idea. The conversation was mainly around the materials that were going to used. Initially he mention that he had come back from a trip to Thailand. At the airport apparently they have a mixture of vibrant new technology with very natural environments such as trees and a waterfall. I've always been fascinated by ESP designs, mostly their basses, and I used one of those designs – the 'Stream' bass as the basis for this guitar. There are a lot of curves! I would now say it's my favourite guitar that I've ever built. It sort of breaks the convention of what you'd consider a guitar. It's an aberration which is why I love it so much ha ha! It's comprised of contrasting themes, a juxtaposition of extremes, it brings polar opposites together. It's a fusion of old and new technology.”
Q. What can we expect in terms of materials, finish, and electrics?
“The body is a fusion of epoxy resin which was poured into a mould, and then the wood itself which is a medium density wood called Monkey Pod. I recently discovered it and it has so many fascinating tonal qualities but it's not one that's generally used for guitar building and this made me excited about the possibilities. Combined with the qualities of the resin, it creates a whole new field of interest. So we have a fusion of synthetic and natural, and light and dark. The resin is quite see-through and there are a set of lights through the body which are lit using one of the control knobs. The whole of the resin – which I also mixed with glow-in-the-dark powder - lights up and it's unbelievable. Technically, everything has been based around Devin's personal signature guitar, which is the 'Stormbender'. The electrics are representational of what he already has on that guitar. The body has a very slight arch on top which the 'Stormbender' has as well.”
Q. And how does she sound?
“Not only does it look incredible, it sounds insane! The sound execution is very unique. The resin component of the body emits a bright tonal quality, although the medium-density Monkey Pod wood elicits a sense of clarity and a more subdued, subtle resonance, therefore mellowing out the brightness. Overall this produces a strong multi-tonal soundscape. Specifically, the guitar allows for very deep, heavy ranges whilst also permitting high soprano-like frequencies. A very powerful combination. It brought me back to the drawing board, which I like to do with every guitar, but this one is very special. It's been a fascinating journey.”