Glassy Tone, Literally: The beauty of glass guitars with Morningstar
GLASSY TONE, LITERALLY: THE BEAUTY OF GLASS GUITARS WITH MORNINGSTAR
A guitar is a very “personal” instrument, often times being compared to an extension of one’s body. Even instruments as iconic as the Les Paul or Stratocaster were designed to be ergonomic- to fit the curves of the player who would be using it. As Tosin Abasi puts it “I always liked thin guitars, like the Ibanez S Series, anything that felt like it integrates seamlessly against your body- things like thin fast-playing necks, low action, thin bodies, lightweight, etc.” That being said, one of the most oft-overlooked parts of a guitar’s design is the neck. While many players tend to gravitate immediately to the pickups, or the strings, the neck is the part that any player interacts with the most.
So what’s in a neck? Well, without opening a really huge can of worms, the neck boils down to three main components: material, shape, and fingerboard. The material tends to have the largest effect on overall tone and stability, the shape has a profound effect on comfort and playability, and the fingerboard tends to be a hybrid of both tone and feel. While they all play a role in the overall neck “feel”, guitar manufacturers pour tons of R&D into making necks the very best they can be, and to suit the needs of a diverse gamut of players, all with different sized hands and fingers.
Guitar makers tend to use two specific tonewoods for the neck: maple due to its hardness and ability to amplify the woods used elsewhere in the guitar, and mahogany due to its darker, more mellow, and thicker tones. Maple has a good deal of high end, and is typically viewed as a “clearer” wood compared to mahogany, which, like anything with guitar, can be totally subjective.
But why these woods? Hell, why wood at all? Good thing you asked! Some manufacturers have turned to more exotic and unique materials over time- sometimes to find something even more resilient than wood, other times to experiment with new tones. In this “experimental” world of exotic necks, we’ve come across simply more exotic woods like bubinga, koa, pau ferro, wenge, and others. Then there are necks that venture into non-wood territory, such as necks built out of acrylic, aluminum, injection-molded (polymer), fiberglass, graphite (Flea), well, you get the picture!
All of the above synthetic materials have quite the effect on look, feel, and stability of the neck. In fact, materials such as carbon and graphite offer profound strength and precision compared to their wooden counterparts- creating a neck that is virtually indestructible (sorry, Pete Townshend) and unaffected by weather. These neck materials were also comfortable and something to truly help your guitar stand out from everything else.
Why did they not catch on? Decades ago, it was due to cost and tradition, however in 2020, we are seeing more builders than ever before utilizing all sorts of new materials, and this is certainly the case with the fine craftsmen over at Morningstar Glass Guitars. As the name implies, this company is taking the idea of glassy tone to entirely more literal levels.
But why just look at a glass neck and fingerboard when you can look and listen? Below, we have this great new video from Darrell Braun, where he gives a great visual rundown of the many fine details that go into this work of art, even down to the fingerboard which is actually radiused! Like a PRS or Gibson, this neck features a 3+3 headstock with Grover locking tuners on the headstock, and on the fingerboard are a full complement of stainless steel frets and a very slight texture.
Darrell adds this neck to a bolt-on Tele body from parts-maker Shock The Fox, and then a Warmoth SuperStrat; to give this wild looking piece of kit a full tone rundown! What do you think of the look, and most importantly what do you think of the sound? While a glass neck is clearly more of a novelty, and probably not something we’d recommend taking on the road; there is no doubt it will give your guitar a truly unique look, feel, and sound! Fast forward to 7 minutes to hear the tone playthrough!