Spotlight: Jon Catler

Adjusting to the sound of microtonal guitar can be hard at first. It is often complicated by the type of music played on these instruments, which can be complex and “difficult,” requiring the ear to adjust to two things at once.

With one of his projects, the band Willie McBlind, Jon Catler plays blues on a guitar fitted with extra frets that allow a radically different intonation than the one used by Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf, yet the music sounds somehow “right.” Whether because the blues masters often played their own style of “out-of-tune,” or because the genre and its forms are so familiar, the sound of Catler’s microtonal instrument seems easier to assimilate.

Then again, a quick viewing of Catler’s video demoing the 12-Tone Ultra Plus guitar reveals that, viewed in a certain light, his instrument is actually more “in-tune” than a standard guitar. In this informative interview the microtonal master explains his journey and philosophy.

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