If you´ve seen this website or seen the PearlVibes on Youtube or the Web you are probably asking:
„Are they for real“ are they genuine“? Must be a trick here - right?
In the words of designer and builder of Ray Gerold pickups after spending a day inspecting and test the Pearlvibes: "The most fantastic and beautiful guitars I have ever come across in over 30 years in the guitar business.They and sound as great as they look." He repeated these superlatives over and over.
ALL PearlVibes are made out of the finest woods with the tops made out of genuine hand picked costly New Zealand Abalone, Green Paua, Awabi, White Abalone and Mother of Pearl. The fitting of the hundreds of individual strips of shell are all done exactingly and tediously by hand.
You take some well dried swampash,sugar pine or red alder and cut out a one to two piece body made exactingly to vintage Telecaster or strat specs. Same shape, thickness and design as the original 50´s design. Weight – 2 Kilogramms or less. Vintage specs, right?
Now the fun starts!
------Please note that all necks pictured show a headstock very similar to the old Fender headstocks. These guitars are all prototypes and NOT being sold. The guitars being sold have different headstocks that clearly are NOT Fender designs.--------
Adding that beautiful layer of Abalone to the guitar top.Well, it´s a trade secret how I do it but let it be clear that I keep this layer extremely thin to ensure great tone – just like a piece of hard wood veneer. I´ve had professionals come by to my shop to test the guitars. The testers were unanimous in their evaluation. The tone was dry and twangy with a percussive attack that brings out those spanky tones.Meticulous and painstaking work to this part. But this is what gives the PearlVibe not only its beauty but also great tone and sustain.
Originally,I was looking for a very hard, thin veneer that had a good musical quality - a snappy percussive attack. I wanted to use this on top of my pine teles. They had good tone, somewhat mellow but lacked that percussive twang. I stumbled across mother of pearl, attached it and found a high percussive very musical quality that was perfect for the tele. Shell has a high bell-like tone. Thus, the Pearlvibe saw the light of day.
All PearlVibes are hand painted with airbrush on back and sides. Each one is unique. The pearl tops are then „sunburst or toneburst“ using the airbrush. I choose colors that bring out even more beauty in the abalone shell and make the color spectrum breathtaking.
Nicelely rounded edges – not only gives the guitar a nicer and softer feel and simply looks great but actually helps in the tone. Bull you say? Well let me explain!The rounder and softer the edges the less lacquer you need altogether because the layer thickness is more uniform across the complete body. If you have sharp edges as, on the original teles, the lacquer has to be applied much thicker so as to protect and cover the sensitive sharper edges. The edges are the first to wear. I do believe that TOO much lacquer and TOO thick a coat will somehow adversely affect tone and possibly dampen tone response. As far as lacquer is concerned, I use nitrocellulose as a primer and 2K urethane for the final coats. I refuse to get on the hype bandwagon and claim that nitro is the miracle answer to great tone. It is not. It´s just just hype with a few disadvantages added.I think I should explain. 2K Urethane will , all in all, wind up giving you a THINNER coating, be more protective and harder and more pleasant to the touch! Nitro NEVER really dries and will always remain „sticky“ to the touch. Nitro is cheap though and tends to soften the underlying layer. That´s why I use it as a one coat primer to secure the paint job and stabilize the sunburst and toneburst over the wood and shell. It sticks pretty well to the shell.Whoever tries to convince you that nitro sounds better is not informed
or simply has gotten on the hype bandwagon. We know that a similar argument has been used for the Stradivarius violin. The claim was once made that „The super shellac“ creates the famous tone. Well that argument has been thoroughly rebuked by now! So why let yourself be duped by the same foolhardy argument as respects to electric guitars,nitro and tone?Believe me, getting great tone is not that simple. I challenge anyone to make the blindfold test.I do believe though,that extremely thick coats of polyester or other thick lacquer tend to be detrimental altogether for many reasons and I won´t use them no matter how quick and practical they are.I give atleast four coats of 2K urethane with alot of sanding between coats until I get a thin hard glasslike final coat just waiting to be buffed and bring out the exploding rainbow-like colors. If you have any quipes or questions about lacquer choice just call or mail me and I´ll give you plenty of proof.
Cut-out changes: Design changes in the electronic cut-out section. All cut out from the back of the guitar.The top of most PearlVibe models have that „sleek“ look with no pickguard, NO PLASTIC or ugly old metal plate for the controls. Besides Leo used them only because they were cheap! Period.Since I am using the most beautiful and costly Abalone and pearl, I don´t want to detract in any way from the picture as a whole so I keep the design uniform.I sink the middle and neck pick-ups directly into the top. Much more painstaking handmade fitting here BUT it´s worth it because it looks that much more sleek and beautiful. When I add those matching pearl pickup covers you get that great custom „camouflage“ look, where you can hardly see the pickups. You´ll hear them though.Please note: The early PearlVibes had matching abalone pickup FRAMES around the pickups. I no longer use this method and I now sink them into the guitar top where the height can be easily adjusted.
Electronics changes: I advise most customers to have a middle pickup installed in their teles. The sound possibilities are simply fantastic and the playability is just as good as a standard 2 pickup tele.Brent Mason, James Burton and Albert Lee are just three examples.Standard with a 3 pickup tele is the third volume knob which controls only the middle pickup and can be blended in easily. Brent Mason uses this type of switching and in his words „adds some meat to the bridge pickup by dialing in some of the middle pup". I use a pretty and very practical short throw Les Paul type three way switch. It is very exact and fast. That old tele switch belongs on a steam locomotive -not a guitar.
PICKUPS - a critical part
1.As a standard tele pickup I use either a Seymour Duncan "Jerry Donahue" or "Five and Two". I love the fat dry twang of the Jerry D. using alnico 2. This pickup is almost unknown and one of Seymours favorites.ng
2.I offer the Joe Barden vintage style pickups BUT I am moving over to the Haüssel twin rail type tele pups. These are almost exactly like the Joe Bardens but sound somewhat warmer and more vintage - not as clinical as the Joe Bardens. In a direct soundcheck in my studio, customers ALWAYS choose the Häussel rails.
3.The most amazing and exclusively handmade pups in Germany are made by Ray Gerold - a true master. They are definitely not cheap, though! The "Twangstar" tele pup blew me away when tested on my guitar. It is truly noiseless and gets as close as you can to the sound of Vince Gill; Possibly the finest twang on any tele I have ever heard.
4.I also offer the Kloppman tele pups - the 52 because of its purely vintage twang. It too is claimed to get that Vince Gill - Red Volkaert tone! Kloppmans are the most respected in Germany and are completely vintage in nature. Ray Gerold pups are vintage BUT are somewhere in the stratosphere of design being noiseless and vintage at the same time.
5.I love the Leo sounds on my strats OR the toneriders. I look for that quacky Knopfler tone. A great neck pup tone is not that hard to get BUT a great QUACK is the real challenge. I also offer the vintage Kloppman. The Ray Gerold strat rails did not convince my VINTAGE ears.
DID YOU KNOW – that any 3 singlecoil guitar can get 12 sounds instead of the standard 5? These sounds are all completely natural and there to have if you choose.I offer the fantastic „Fingertips“ switching using three high quality mini switches. Two ON-ON to control the neck and bridge pup and an ON-ON-ON for the bridge pup.This option brings many tonal advantages giving you 12 completely natural sounds: achieved quickly – just with your fingertips. I offer the Fingertips on all my 3 pickup guitars and I highly recommend it.Please note: It takes tedious long hours to solder the switches (over 30 soldering points)and get the switching to work perfectly. This is probably the reason it is not offered on any factory guitars. All possible combinations of parallel and series sounds are now available.
Standard single and paralel sounds:
Straty bridge and mid combined in paralel
straty neck and bridge combined in paralel
Now the NEW sounds: (Believe me, you will use them constantly and wonder how you got along in the past without them.)
Tele type neck and bridge combined in parallel - the typical tele sound - now on a stratBridge and mid combined in Series; hotter, fatter and louder than setting Nr.4. Great fort hat quick solo where you get more meat and bite without using a footswitch or changing any settings. Sounds like humbucker with „quack“. Bridge switch down – mid switch up and neck switch down.
Bridge, mid and neck – ALL 3 combined in paralel – for an unprecedented sweet „quacky“ almost acoustic like tone. The sweetest sound you will ever hear in a strat or tele. You simply switch up all 3 switches.
All three, bridge, mid, neck in series paralel combination. More powerful than Nr. 8, more spank and twang. THE ROCK n ROLL setting. Bridge switch down, mid and neck switches up.
ALL three in SERIES. This is the fattest and hottest setting and sounds similar to a heavy humbucker. You have never heard this on a single coil guitar. You get it quickly by switching all 3 switches down. This will overdrive any tube amp.
Neck and Mid in SERIES; sounds like Nr. 5 but much thicker and heavier. Like a fat neck humbucker. Simply switch neck and mid DOWN and place bridge switch in the middle setting.
Neck and bridge together but in SERIES. If you like that tele bridge/neck sound but you want it fatter and more powerful – then simply switch up the neck switch and switch down the mid and bridge switch. It´s that simple to get a completely natural and useable new sound.
The necks all have vintage specs with that vintage C shape and a radius of about 11. Jumbo frets too.All necks are hardrock Canadian maple. I use only all maple necks because oft he tonal properties.All necks are grade AAA flamed maple with beautiful tight highly figured flames throughout. I use three tints on my guitars: