FutureFret: Episode One is the first event in what Vernon Reid and Chris Buono hope to be an ongoing series. The event is this Saturday, May 14th, 2022 and will include a collective of panel discussions, masterclasses and live performances centered around forward-thinking concepts for the modern guitarist. Here is my interview with Vernon about the idea, its possibilities and many other things. Below that is an introductory video and the details.
I have noticed a recent trend toward a resurgence of headless guitar designs being favored by modern guitarists. Rick Toone builds beautiful examples of this style guitar (as well as “headed versions”). He had the idea to ask some clients, Chris Buono, Todd Haug, Killick Hinds, Ken Kinter, Gabriel Levi, Steve Sjuggerud, and Ede Wright, to record an album of music featuring his instruments. The result is a terrific compilation of modern guitar improvisation.
Kieran Downes says it himself; he “builds 6- and 7-string solid body electric guitars for musicians after something a little different.” A Downes guitar is carved for comfort in any playing position. He offers variety of woods for bodies, tops, necks and fingerboards. Pickups are provided by Bare Knuckle or DiMarzio Pickups (or I would imagine anyone you request). Hipshot and Schaller hardware is employed. Downes guitars also feature a Stellartone ToneStyler passive tone control with eleven positions of sound shaping. The custom-made Downes Guitars locking headpiece is made from hard-anodized aircraft aluminum. Select instruments also feature very modern electronics based suggestions from modern guitarist extraordinaire, Chris Buono. Instruments ship in a Gruv Gear Gigblade gig bag and are hand crafted in Portland, Oregon.
If Jimi had lived might he have eschewed frets at some point in favor of an extra measure of expression? If he had he might have sounded something like this.
On April 15th, 2012 , Chris Buono (Karsh Kale, Lithium Tree) rocked a set of Jimi Hendrix tunes on his fretless Excalibur Surfreter Supra. An SRO crowd at the annual Brookdale Guitar Show was treated to cuts from classic Hendrix albums: Are You Experienced?, Axis: Bold As Love, and Electric Ladyland . Buono was joined by Tobias Ralph (Adrian Belew) on drums, Steve Jenkins (Vernon Reid) on bass, and Eryn Shewell on vocals.