A Slice of Guitar Heaven

The other day my friends Matt and Will stopped by and we had ourselves a lovely hangout. They both brought some of the most pristine, and prestigious, instruments that have graced my studio. Let me preface this post by saying I am incredibly impressed by the work that goes into all guitars, and that I still do plan on reviewing the Aristides, and hopefully Matt and I will have a chance to do a review of his wonderful new Caparison, but for now this post should satiate your hungry eyes.

This is the Aristides 060 in the marvellous colour of Dutch Orange.

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Aristides’ story began in 1995 with TU Delft, a university based in the city of Delft in the Netherlands. Their mission was to create a ‘perfect’ or dream material that had unimaginable acoustic properties. There seems to have been a hell of a lot of R&D that went into it, and that is impressive in itself. The material was given the name ‘Arium’, which is a name immediately reminiscent of materials used in modern day spy planes, or space ships.

If the guitar above you doesn’t scream of proof of the fantastic nature of these guitars, let me tell you, it is amazing.

In the hands it feels heavier than I expected, yet built with purpose like the traditional guitars of old. However, the body is anything but ‘traditional’. I fondly remember sitting down at the Aristides booth at NAMM 2015 with a friend of mine, also named Paul, and we had the joy of playing the Aristides instruments for a good 20 minutes before we buggered off. The both of us were absolutely entranced. That’s when I first caught a riffy glimpse of these wonderful creations, and from that point on I was hungry to review one.

I ended up befriending Pascal Langelaar at the Aristides booth, and have only had the most pleasant of conversations. I’ll admit it’s usually just me bothering him and asking him to send me a guitar to review. Thankfully, the owner of the above Dutch beauty has resolved this issue.

The process involved in terms of the creation of these fine, beastly instruments is detailed quite well on their website here. Further reading of their site shows that these guitars were and are made by madmen, by dreamers and believers, and by people who want to push the envelope in the guitar world. In common conversation the term used is ‘crazy’ or ‘nuts’, but really it all just means wonderful.

Usually when I stumble upon a new idea that seems to completely challenge old ideas and traditions, I, like any dude, scoff at first. But this company gets me excited. I love the ‘engineers mind’. I love the concept of improving, and of perfecting. The Japanese saying of Kai Zen is something I truly wish to live by, and these guitars are definitely reminiscent of that adage. I am greatly looking forward to the subsequent video review this guitar is going to receive, simply because this guitar is a joy to play, and more people need to see the smile that will spread across my face once I play that diminished run with the viciousness of a barbarous badger. Anyhow.

Next on this short list of fantastic guitars, is this unbelievable Caparison TAT Special 7 Trans Spectrum Red. Bit of a mouth full? Definitely, but just you wait.

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This guitar, like most if not all Caparison guitars, is perfect. Well, pretty damn well near. To defeat the amount of literal years that the luthiers have combined at Caparison would mean that your company is one of the biggest in the world. And bigger certainly doesn’t necessarily mean better. In this case, definitely not.

The size of Caparison, with its many master luthiers, means that the instrument you buy is hand touched by some of the best in the business. The necks are sanded and finished by hand. The famous one-of-a-kind sponge finishes? All done by Mr. Itaru Kanno himself. To this day this still astounds me, considering their output of instruments.

Caparison Guitars was founded in 1995 by the former Jackson & Charvel Japan design division. Over the years it has changed hands from its original owners, and is now owned by George and Gabriel Ösztreicher. These are some fantastic gentleman that are based in the U.K, and I have had the pleasure of meeting them not once, but twice at the yearly Winter NAMM shows. Despite the changing of hands, Mr. Kanno has stayed with the company as lead designer, and that dedication is greatly appreciated by every guitar player that picks up a Caparison.

At NAMM I had the pleasure of meeting Itaru, and I ended up having a few conversations with him. He revealed his awesome-ness in a few words, a few hand gestures and with a few laughs too. I remember having plenty of beers in the lobby of a hotel, and asking him plenty of questions about his process in terms of designing guitars and even pickups. I couldn’t believe how truly dedicated this man was to his craft. To say it was an eye opening experience doesn’t cut it, the conversation showed me what it takes to truly be a master at anything. I have spent a lot of time thinking about the philosophical nature of the conversation we had, but I digress.

The name TAT stands for Through-and-Through, meaning the guitar is of a neck through construction. The sheer bloody sustain on the thing sings ceaselessly, and it’s a wonder people don’t know about the ingenuity that is put into Caparison guitars.

The pickups seem to suit the guitar very well, as Matt couldn’t stop shredding along and destroying the other egos in the room with his immaculate playing. The thing about these guitars is that you just want to sit down and play them. They feel a little worn, and maybe that is because the necks are hand finished, but maybe it’s also because they are one of the best guitars you might ever play. The feeling of them in the hands is the way any guitar should feel, at home.

I believe that the feeling could best summed up as ‘getting out of the guitar what you put into the guitar’.

I think that that sums up a lot of the feeling and playability of Caparison in a very tiny nutshell. They simply feel at home. Sure, you can throw in new pickups and replace tuning machines and mod it to hell if you want, but Caparisons are charismatic and divine in the way that they always feel like a true guitar players guitar.

I hope to have a video review with tones for you folks soon! I will be with Matt in a studio situation in the near future, and I am delighted to say that this guitar will most definitely be used for that session.

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