15″ Curved Top and Back Acoustic/Electric Guitars.
The concept is focusing on making contemporary acoustic electric guitars with hand carved top and back, instead of renewing “Arch top” guitar designs as established images.
With all respect to Gibson arch top guitars tradition, great masters, and musical history of arch top guitars, I am purposely trying to have distance from them.
This is the reason I call this project “Does the California roll dream of NY pizza?”.
Any kind of guitars in our time have established images. When you hear the name of “dreadnought”, some common images appear in your mind automatically, images includes the type of sound, the type of music, the type of players, etc. These established images can be called tradition, at the same time it can be a boundary for musical imagination. “Arch top ” guitars are the same way. They have a strong established image. “Having distance from Gibson” means to me that having distance from established images from “Arch top” guitars.
At the bigining, I thought what if Orville Gibson, the Gibson Company didn’t start making arch top guitars and mandolins? Could we see possibilities using the arched top concept with guitars with a fresh mind in my time? But, I soon realized it didn’t work well. Because, when I thought about it more , I also I thought more about what they have done. To find out what is new and different means that realizing what is not new and what have done. It is difficult to set myself in the situation of no presence of arch top guitars. So, “Having distance from Gibson, and other great arch top masters” also doesn’t mean disregarding their past and current works .
Also there are some “images” I try to associate within this project.
I would assume that one of the “images” Gibson had in their early time (maybe still has?) is a longing, an aspiration for European classical instruments, like violins. (It maybe was kind of nostalgia too? ) It is one of the “images” I can’t disregard for example. When they were making arch top guitars, their eyes might have been directed toward Europe. In my case, as a person who was born and raised in Japan, now living on the West coast in the US, my Asian eyes are directed toward Europe from California, through the East coast of the US. It is important for me to find out where I am at, and which direction I am facing in socially and historicity.
This creates layers in this project. when you see this guitar closely, you can find some references to arched top classical instruments, like violins, you can find some references to the Japanese Syamisen. For the sound design, it is based on my experience from my flat top guitar making. Also there are many developed ideas from my “experimental” guitar model.
It is question about “creativity” “tradition” “identity”, but I don’t have any answers. It is an on-going project.