The title "Satyrn" plays off the small grotesque character within the trifoil that I've incorporated into the bridge tableau. The character - adapted from one of my drawings - is somewhat an amalgamation of a classic mythical satyr and a minotaur, lending its chimerical mojo to this unique guitar. The carving itself reminds me of an ancient Greek mask.
The instrument as a whole has a most definite quality of antiquity, despite the fact that the instrument is a 21st century electric guitar. The wood, the wood work... I let the carving quality itself invoke a sense of the historical artifact or museum piece. In the hands, a person my be quite stricken with the notion that this instrument could have easily been a valuable part of some luxurious 17th or 18th century sailing ship. Everything about this guitar screams wood. Just holding it, even I have a much greater awareness of "wood" than I remember having with most of my other guitars, even though they, too, are constructed almost entirely of wood.
Despite the air of centuries-old craftsmanship and antiquity, make no mistake, this is a contemporary, precision handcrafted instrument.
Aside from the obvious carved elements, the actual bridge/saddle pin configuration itself is something a bit unique, compared to the usual presence of commercial hardware on most electric guitars. As I've mentioned on more than one occasion, I much prefer to design and construct as much of the instrument as I possibly can. My bridges are perfect opportunities for me to express myself, not just for the sake of embellishment, but where it counts toward the instrument's tonal character, intonation, and playability. My guitars are not just about looks. I don't see the point in building a high-end, handcrafted musical instrument that is not a professional-grade player.
The bridge is a solid block of ebony here - about the size of a standard tune-o-matic, though somewhat taller, because it resides in a slot and is height-adjustable utilizing 2 hex-head screws set in from behind. The adjustment screws are threaded through brass thread inserts for a seriously stable and sturdy adjustment, not to mention, a solid coupling to the body wood. The height of the bridge is easily changed, depending upon one's preference for action.
I use wooden saddles quite regularly on my instruments and rather enjoy the tone. However, the bridge I've created here is for the electric players who prefer that their strings break over metal. Consequently, I've incorporated brass pins as individual saddles.
The primary difference between this bridge and the standard tune-o-matic is the set intonation of the brass pins in this bridge block. I've intonated these pins for a set of .010 strings, one of the most popular string sizes for electric guitar. Should the player require a different size that doesn't quite intonate with these pins, I'd be happy to build a new bridge block that will easily fit into the bridge block slot of the Satyrn. Like the tune-o-matic, the block makes contact with two adjustable screws, which set into threaded inserts, installed deeply into the body wood, but don't forget that the bridge block of the Satyrn is tightly fit to the slot, providing direct contact with the body wood, itself.
If you can't tell, I've also grooved the "tailpiece" in order to accomplish two things: 1) clean up the paths to the pins, making the strings lay more consistently as well as accurate and stable over the pins 2) to increase the break angle of the strings across the pins.
I'll be using this concept frequently on future instruments.
Electronically, this is All-American electric guitar. The two humbuckers are coupled directly to the body wood. I most often choose to dispense with pickup bezels when the look I'm trying to achieve requires it. Here, I've filled the pickup tab routs with individual walnut plugs that serve as custom-made spacers to hold the humbuckers firmly in place with style, covering the otherwise bare-metal pickup tabs.
From the back of the Satyrn, you'll see not only the adjustment screws for the bridge block, but the walnut cover over the brass ground plate for the string-throughs. I hand-make brass plates to fit each specific guitar's string-through cavity and wire it right into the electrical system for good grounding of the strings. This is an extremely effective solution that also promotes the handmade aspect of my guitars. As I've said above and many other times, I'm not a big fan of most hardware on the market, regardless of its look. I'd much prefer something more unique that helps separate my instruments from others.
The neck is carved with a soft, asymmetrical V profile... extremely comfortable. The nut is 1.7" wide.
The headstock badge is carved in solid East Indian rosewood to coordinate with the EIR fretboard. This is one of the features of this guitar that really evokes the aura of antiquity. Carved separately, it is skillfully and precisely inlaid permanently into the dropped-down headstock. While the dropped-down peghead is typical of the classic American bolt-on neck guitar, the richly detailed handcarving of the logo applique lends a somewhat more serious meaning to the term "vintage." Reminiscent of the '50s? Yes. The 1750s. Now that's
The side-markers are small eclipses, with the markers at the 12th fret position being 2 full celestial bodies.
Satyrn's scale length is my favorite... 25 1/2". The last few guitars I've built were shorter 24.625" scale lengths, which I also like. My iO bodies are smallish guitars and the short scale suits them perfectly. When I strung up the Satyrn, however, and set up the nut, action, and intonation, the first notes I played put me right back in love with the longer scale. Even unplugged, it rings with that amazing bell-like tone. Even the break angles of the strings across both nut and pin saddles were carefully tweaked to cultivate that buzz-free, clean-ringing, sinfully sustainful tone. The 24 frets here allow for 2 full octave playing.
The string-spread at the bridge is a little wider than the typical electric spread. The Satyrn features a nicely spaced 2 3/16" exactly - a nice amenity for the electric fingerpicker, which I, myself, am one.
solid maple back w/single-piece walnut top
Neck: walnut bolt-on w/dropped-down 3x3 headstock, dual-action trussrod, black veneer laminations, soft asymmetrical V profile
Indian rosewood, 25 1/2" scale, 12" radius, 24 frets, eclipsed moon side-markers
graphite, 1 11/16" in width
Pickups: custom humbuckers by Searcy String Works
Switching: single volume control and 3-way switch
Bridge: custom, adjustable height
String spread at the bridge:
Tuners: black Sperzel locking 3x3s
Finish: Danish oil (neck is Danish oil and Tru-oil)