What you should know about Pearlvibe
Sounds a bit provocative doesnt it?
In an age of deplorable „ugly“, a time of conforming debauchery and tastelessness – the attempt alone of capturing beauty will confound most people like a ground mole is blinded by looking at sunlight after years of darkness. Those who see it for the first time call it „BLING“, trying to downplay something completely foreign to their eyes.
The music we have all grown to love: Rock, blues, folk, country is quickly fading and becoming a thing of the past. Unfortuneately, it has become "past oriented" ; everyone is clamoring to grab an old tele or strat before they are all gone. Since they are so limited, NEW ones are being built that just look OLD and are being called VINTAGE. This is like Ferarri building a new Testarossa and then scratching it up, treating it with steel wool soaked in vinegar, cracking the finish with liquid nitrogen ......and so on and calling it a classic.
Or imagine Gibson in the 1950`s just copying Fenders Teles instead of creating the Les Paul with flamed maple top. I think you get the point. Quality, creativity and true art always pays in the end. If the music we love is to survive, new guitars - new approaches and designs (that are still vintage oriented) have to be built. I´m doing my part in taking guitarbuilding and design to the next level and "keeping the music alive": A VINTAGE guitar of the future, so to speak. What YOU should know about Pearlvibe (OR – who has no business being on this site) Sounds a bit provocative doesnt it? In an age of deplorable „ugly“, a time of conforming debauchery and tastelessness – the attempt alone of capturing beauty will confound most people and cause them to act like a ground mole blinded by looking at sunlight after years of darkness. Those who see it for the first time defensively call it „BLING“, trying to downplay something completely foreign to their eyes.
My guitars are dedicated to the search for beauty. Each and everyone is concieved and crafted with this in mind. If I achieve this quest then it is not my doing alone. The One that created such beautiful materials as Abalone, Pearl, precious woods, gems, crystals (the list goes on) is the true artist. I just put it all together. Call it art if you like – but I´m not the artist.
Then there is the tone and playability: Does anyone really want great tone today? Stupid question, you might say. Well then listen to the monotonous desensitizing Lemming jibberish being called music today and show me where great tone is even an issue. When was the last time you heard a fantastic tone that caught your ear and gave you goosebumps? When was the last time you heard a beautiful melody in the music of today? In an age of audial trash a beautiful tone is often overlooked and sometimes ridiculed.
In a time of lies, truth is scoffed at as being naive. If good honest workmanship, critical thinking and dedication are to be ridiculed then the joke is on me. BUT I refuse to compromise to mindless trends and silly fads. In a time of consuming decadence and deception by ommission honest accountability and decent principles are like a breath of fresh air. So, if you have read this far you belong to a very small minority. Take a deep breath of fresh air! Enjoy discovering my creative process. I hope that some of the beauty I worked so very hard at achieving will touch something deep within you.
A Custom Made Electric Guitar - Why?
If you are tired of that silly fad of owning a guitar that was artificially aged and made to look roadworn; artficially turned into a "wreck". If you don´t want to play " make-believe" or "show and tell" and follow a fad like a lemming, then read on: Most of us are in search of beauty. We have just come to accept that there is a lack of it today. Don´t forget,the fads of today produce the junk of tommorow. If so, it´s time for a change.
Afterall, after the Dark Ages came the Renaissance........................ Now let´s talk about guitars! Electric guitar players struggle with factory guitar shortcomings: buzzing, uncomfortable necks, inexpensive electronics, poor fret and nut work – and MOST OF ALL – uninspiring, run of the mill design and looks usually topped off with a cheap plastic pickguard. Here two customer guitars with added custom pickguards and custom switching. No cheap plastic on a Pearlvibe! Players then often invest their time and money changing the neck, hardware, and pickups – usually with mixed results! YOU CAN´T change the paint job or looks. This guitar will look like a million others like it. You are stuck with a lot of cheap plastic paid for with your good money.Customers actually contact me when they are frustrated with their current guitar and ask me to add a beautiful abalone top, do a custom paint job or add the FINGERTIPS circuit. (Go to DVD/AUDIOFILES to hear this circuit in action - 12 sounds)."Oh yeah, when you are at it, add one of those fantastic flamed maple necks grade AAAA".
When you decide to have a custom guitar made by Pearlvibe you decide on features rarely or never offered on factory models. If they are offered by factories then we are talking about very expensive guitars. Let´s face it, major companies have a great name and can ask for prices beyond $5000,- for their Custom Shop specials. They are not that special at all. They actually fade to grey next to a custom built Pearlvibe, for example. I´ve witnessed this many times in my studio when customers bring in their expensive Custom Shop guitars that were artificially aged and made to look roadworn and then compare them to one of my custom handmade guitars. All of them are suddenly silent and capitulate to the rare beauty and are simply overwhelmed by the looks, quality and tone.. They realize that they have given in to a silly fad, but that´s another story. Playing guitars in music stores, you find one neck is too big, next one has sharp edges, another the fret wire size is wrong. No matter how good a guitar looks or sounds, if the neck doesn’t feel right and play the way you want, you won’t be happy. You very rarely find a beautiful flamed maple neck because this wood simply is very hard to find and extremely expensive. With a handmade custom not only the nut is accurate, intonation is adjusted properly, frets are leveled, crowned and polished to eliminate buzzing. I also spend time hand shaping the neck in the final stage so that it feels like you have played it for years. I test and play it for WEEKS. Maximized Guitar Intonation and Playability Have you ever picked up a guitar that won’t play in tune because the nut is cut too high or because it wasn’t set up properly? Most mass-produced guitar makers do not pay special attention to the final details. A custom builder spends a lot of additional time going over every detail to meet high playability standards for setup, fretwork and nut. The end goal is to allow you to play your guitar without limitation; to just make music and not fight your guitar. With a wood guitar, it takes awhile for it to settle in under string tension. After assembly and setup, I let the guitar sit strung to pitch. I tune it and check the relief every day to make sure there is no movement in the neck and I set up the guitar to specs again.I then do a final setup on pick-up height and do a final finish polishing and string it up with the best strings. I want your guitar to be as stable as possible and arrive at your house playing the same as when it left my shop. Just Great Sound and Tone Most manufactured guitars come with one set of pickups or hardware per model. Do you honestly believe that the body WOOD is specially hand selected after aging? I know for a fact that it is not. With a custom guitar, you can choose the right pickups, body wood and wiring scheme that will dial in your signature sound.You can have custom switching and circuits designed for your needs (e.g.my Fingertips switching). I work with only the best high-quality pickups that have convinced me through their TONE – NOT their HYPE. I´m open to try your favorite pickup if it is good. I spend a lot of time adjusting the height of the pickups to get the tone right. To reduce buzzing, all of my guitars are shielded with copper foil, and all cavities are connected to a common ground to be as quiet as they can be. Highest Quality Guitar Parts Nothing is worse than coming home with your new guitar and realizing the tuners need replacing, the nut is plastic, or the pots are scratchy and feel cheap. You begin to realize you are going to need to change a lot of parts to get this guitar close to what you want. When you order a custom guitar, you work with the builder to select the highest quality heavy-duty components (tuners, knobs, bridges) to achieve the best playing and sounding guitar. Airbrush Paint Job and Finishes, genuine Abalone Tops Mass-produced guitars offer a limited list of stock colors because they buy in large quantities and don’t have space and time to switch paints for every build. The finish might come with flaws because the guitar is quickly buffed once or twice right from the paint booth and that’s it. Your custom guitar finish is one aspect where you can let your imagination run wild to make your guitar look amazing. I´ll help you with my experience, because let´s face it, no one else works with these thrilling materials like abalone and pearl tops. The airbrush paint job is my artistic expression and I will spend over a week to get the painting the way I want it. Call it artistic pride, if you like.
I add clearcoats and sand extensively to keep the coats as thin and hard as possible. They also provide that all important ultraviolet ray protection. Nitro varnish does not protect at all and will allow the colors to fade and yellow with time. Check out the old 70´s Anniversary Stratocasters. They started out as SILVER guitars. Today they are GREEN METALLIC! I start out with a coat of nitrocellulose but end up with super hard 2 component urethane for full protection. Urethane also feels very silky and great on the neck. It doesn´t feel sticky like nitro. Take a look at all the Pearlvibes and the different building steps. Listen to the Soundfiles under Menu:DVD/Video,Soundfiles to hear the guitars and the Fingertips Switching in action.
Design – Vintage BUT………….
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“?
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 or red alder and cut out a one to two piece body made exactingly to vintage Tele or strat specs. Same shape, thickness and design as the original 50´s design. Weight – 2 Kilogramms or less.
Now the fun starts!
1.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 – much thinner than a piece of wood veneer. Meticulous and painstaking work goes into this part. But this is what gives the PearlVibe its beauty and „snappy attack“.
All PearlVibes are also hand painted with airbrush on back and sides. Each one is unique. The custom paint job alone makes them all very special.
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.
2.Nicely 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 hype – nitro has quite a few disadvantages added. It´s „sticky“, soft and lets the colors fade!
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 and silky to the touch! It will also protect against UV radiation that robs the color.
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.
Notice those soft rounded edges. Not only more comfortable but it also enables me to use LESS lacquer on the whole guitar.
3.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.
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. The old tele switch belongs on a locomotive -not a guitar.
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. Check out the test - Videos.
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 3 pickup guitars and I highly recommend them.
Please note: It takes tedious long hours to solder the switches and get the switching to work perfectly. This is probably the reason it is not offered on any factory guitars.
All possible combinations of paralel and series sounds.
Standard single and paralel sounds:
1. Bridge alone 2.Mid alone 3. Neck alone 4. Straty bridge and mid combined in paralel 5.straty neck and bridge combined in paralel 6. Tele type 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.)
7 .Bridge 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 parallel – 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.
10. 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
This is a strat type set up with the Fingertips switching installed. Very precise and fast to switch, finest miniswitches assure quality and long life.
The necks all have vintage specs with that vintage C shape and a radius of about 10 to 11. Jumbo frets too.
All necks are hardrock Canadian maple. I use only all maple necks because of the tonal properties. I want the snap. Rosewood fretboards are offered. Lately, I have been building roasted maple necks and I am very pleased with the tone and stability. Stunning, being roasted and highly flamed.
All necks are grade AAA to grade AAAAA flamed maple with beautiful tight highly figured flames throughout.
I use four tints on my guitars: 1.white natural 2.Yellow honey 3.Vintage amber 4.vintage caramel. Roasted need no tint.