My ideal guitar

This is the practical wish-list for an ideal guitar, one designed out of all the things I like most of the options available.



BODY
Shape: Double cutaway solid-body - The Strat shape has emerged as the most desirable and useful.  Notice that "super Strats" have become the guitars of choice in any guitar-centric genre, but there's no such as a "super Les Paul," and that isn't because the latter are their own superlative sans adjective.  The Strat style/configuration just makes playing easier.

Top carved, ergonomically countoured - I like how flat faces show off their wood/finish (see the EBMM Axis, for example), but carved tops are more alluring overall, and they mesh well with the body countouring instruments really ought to have to play comfortably.

Wood: Alder/Ash - My Strats are made out of it, and they sound great even unplugged.  Screw mahogany!  Soft woods have the tone I like.

Routing: Rear - I don't need the big pickguard covering up the top.  Aesthetically that doesn't make sense at all.

Quilt (green or blue) with binding - Flame is nice, but quilt looks more like a finish than markings.  And I've always been drawn particularly to green or blue guitars.

Carved heel - This is a feature on my EBMM Axis, and it makes it very, very easy to play.

Trem: Trans-Tremolo by Steinberger - This may negate my desire to include other options like piezo, but the versatility is amazing.  A tremolo ranks among my essentials on any guitar though.  I really don't consider many guitars now without one, and I've looked into adding one to some guitars I already own that aren't presently trem-equipped.


NECK
Width: Narrow - The best neck I've ever played on is my EBMM Axis, and that's about as wide as any two fingers side-by-side.  I have gotten used to the wide Ibanez ("Wizard") necks and understand their appeal, but I just love the way the Axis plays.

Tuners: 6 in-line, locking - Even though I have plenty of 3x3 guitars, I prefer the idea of keeping all the tuners in a row.  That just makes sense to me.  I like the ergonomics of reverse headstocks as well, but I haven't tried it in practice to see if it really would suit me.  And locking tuners are a no-brainer.  Better tuning stability, and there's far less winding in a string change.

Headstock: Straight (not angled) - I never understood why a headstock needed to be angled when string tees accomplished the same thing without turning the head even further away from the audience than the neck already was.  I would even go headless but for the fact that tuners circumvent the hassle of having double-ball strings available.

Fret markers: None - Yes, that means no dot inlays!  Dot inlays are the ugliest, stupidest tradition in guitardom.  They're unneccessary since the side dots serve the guitarist, so the fretboard inlay is only for the benefit of the audience.  There are many styles of inlay I do like very much, but my ideal guitar is about streamlining, so I always envision an instrument without inlay.  Besides, inlay rarely looks good on maple, which is my preference anyway.

Frets: 24 - Again, this seems like the obvious choice.  I'm always reaching for extra notes that guitars (Strats especially) don't make available.  You don't have to use the frets every time you play, but they're there when you want them.

Fretboard: Maple (birdseye; no binding) with heavy gloss - I like the look of birdseye, but mainly I love the sound and feel of maple with a thick layer of gloss finish on top.  It allows for smooth string bends like your fingers are gliding over glass.  This is opposed to something like rosewood, where you have to push counter to the grain of the wood in order to pitch up.  My second choice would be ebony (where the grain is less of an issue visually or tactily), but I prefer maple above all.

Joint: Bolt-on - For all the talk about set necks and thru-body necks, bolt-on necks perform just fine, and I actually prefer the freedom to swap out a neck if the desire suits me.


HARDWARE
Chrome - I think this is the best choice.  I don't like gold (and it wears off eventually anyway), and black is too dull on most guitars, unless you're going for a "dark" look, which I'm not.

Knobs - I haven't decided, but I think conventional barrel knobs are the best choice on guitars with push-pull pots, though I also like anything that marks positions (especially the old Steinberger knobs that had a little pointer to them).  It would be nice if they were jeweled too.  Alternatively, stacked knobs may be a better choice, depending on how the control configuration plays out.  But I would have a chicken-head pointer knob on the varitone; that's just the best choice.


PICKUPS
Configuration: SSH, but neck humbucker = mini (single-coil-size)

Make/Model/Tone: I don't know, because no pickup can be all the things you want at a given moment.  For example, I like the look of blade/rail style pickups, but I don't have a particular model I'm draw to.  I like "blank" pickups like most Lace and EMG models, but I couldn't single out one of those.  Ideally, there should be no hum in single-coil mode, which again pretty much limits me to Lace and EMG models.

Now to be specific to the position...

Neck pickup: TBD - I like a throaty sound with some brightness.  I don't want a particularly heavy tone; I need clarity.  I think mini-humbuckers are better at this than full-sized models.

Middle pickup: TBD - I don't have any requirements for this beyond matching the output of the other pickups, just so they'll blend when I mix them.

Bridge pickup: TBD - One of the goals I have in a bridge pickup can be both bright/clangy and heavy.  You can't get both at the same time, but so long as switching (e.g., coil tap, selecting between coils, etc.) allows that, I'll be happy.

Attachment: direct mounted - I like the way this looks.  There are myths about how it affects the sound, none of which are founded in anything but a placebo effect.


ELECTRONICS
Side Jack - Makes for the best position.  I know the Jem jack works well for being on stage, but I mostly play in front of my computer, and I switch between guitars a lot, so accessibility of the jack is more important than stability.  Also, the square LP-style jack plate, not the football.  I don't like anything related to football except cheerleaders.

Pickup selector: 5-way blade - This remains the most intuitive control for anything more than two pickups.  It is also possible accomplish mods such as auto-coil tapping with even a stock 5-way selector, but you can do even more with custom version.  I like it because the standard configuration works best in combination with some other mods.

Row of three mini-toggles: Options - Many of these things could be accomplished via other approaches (e.g., push-pull pots, auto-tapping via the 5-way, rotary switches, etc.), but I was thinking about having switches to control a series/tap/parallel switch for each humbucker and another for the phase of the middle pickup.

Unmastered tone control - I almost never adjust the tone on my bridge pickup, only the neck, so I just need one tone knob for that, not a master tone control.

Master volume - I don't adjust pickups individually.  I have a matched set that I can switch between.  For rare vol adjustments or swells, one knob is perfect.

Varitone - I like the freedom of all the tone changes of a notch filter (or to bypass and just use a regular tone control).


EXTRAS
Sustainer - Terrific device that enables all sorts of new and modified playing styles.  I've never had one (though tried it before) but would like to.

Piezo bridge (with EQ... and pre-sets) - I like the added possibilities of this, even though I'm not much of an acoustic player.  Note: I would add a blender rather than separate volume controls and/or switching.

Modeling - I love what the Variax can do.  It renders conventional pickups redundant, but I would like something similar anyway.

Midi - This is a nice option to have, although I have to admit that I don't use the midi-converting guitar/synth I already have as often as I should.

Preamp - I like the boost, but I also like the ability to shape the tone.  I've had preamps of several kinds in several of my guitars (as well as active pickups without any special controls), and I've usually liked those a lot.






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