2024 NAMM Report

PHOTO: 2024 NAMM Spearfish™ guitar displayed in the Bare Knuckle Pickups booth and demoed by Gabriel Levi. This guitar is currently listed for sale. Gabriel Levi reports below on his experiences at 2024 NAMM show…

Q: What was the reaction to Spearfish?

A: Overwhelmingly positive and mostly pure shock. In a very oversaturated guitar market (especially evident at the NAMM show) it’s cool to see when a name lives up to its hype. The neck is of course a major selling point of the Spearfish and is an instant conversation starter. It reeled people in to learn more about the guitar…it grabs attention and sparks interest in ways a traditional neck wouldn’t. The International Orange finish totally shook people and was clearly visible amongst the noise at NAMM. The reaction to the FreeWay 10-way switch was GREAT. It almost adds another layer of value and individuality to the guitar. It gives the impression that the guitar is infinite (rightfully so). A lot of folks came out to see your guitar. None left disappointed and I was so happy to see it all go down!

Q: What did people like best about Spearfish?

A: THE NECK. The neck. It really is the selling point of this guitar and the feature most people want. Very unique but extremely playable and functional. “Effortless” is a word that kept coming up. People noticed the balance and ergonomics of the instrument. It does an excellent job of comfortably adhering to your body as you play. The International Orange finish sort of spoke for itself…it was a great display of the depths you’re able to go. People loved it. Another thing people loved? That headstock. It’s really sick.

Q: What did they like least about Spearfish?

A: The neck. HA! Just kidding…but in all seriousness, it is the one thing that threw a small number of people off. I will say for 99% of skeptics, this wore off quickly. It does not surprise me that something of this nature would throw off a more traditional player. It’s a massive sea change when you first try it out, but the benefits quickly become evident. The only other thing I can think of (which wasn’t necessarily a dislike) was the extra space on the fretboard room on the high E-string side. Most players were not used to being able to pull the string in a downward motion on the high E string, and I think they weren’t used to feeling fretboard under their hands on that side on the neck. It was an interesting observation because I’m SO used to the Element neck at this point, but I understand — because if I pick up a Telecaster, I find myself falling off the high E-string side more than I’d like to admit. Ha! I think it’s a cool part of the guitar that I personally love, but something I did get feedback on.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Fretboard Flare™ is the geometric feature included in the patented Element™ neck.

Q: What did you learn regarding how people perceive my work? 

A: You are definitely an elusive creature in the guitar world, so watching people try your guitars is like witnessing man discover fire. It is interesting because as far as I can tell, you’re not worried about marketing and shoving your name down peoples throats. You just make real evocative art and it resonates. Word of mouth is still alive and well when it comes to art that people feel the need to share, and seeing this cult-like following towards your work is inspiring. DIY to the max.

Q: Did you make any connections to help your career?

A: Oh man. Where do I begin? First of all, thank you for the Bare Knuckle Pickups relationship that you started. They were amazing people and it was a gift to help represent a brand that I have been a proponent of for so long. I confirmed a big project with Neural DSP that will be taking place within the next few months. I secured an artist deal with Happy Cable Company which are making some really high quality cables. They’ll be helping me with cable needs for the wireless packs we use on stage and cables here in the studio. Steve linked me up with an entire hotel room of guys that totally rocked my world with emerging technology for guitar. I like to go deep with the Fractal Audio units and utilize things like automated preset/scene changes via MIDI, and to see what’s possible when it comes to using the guitar as a controller blew me away. If this can become optimized, it would be a total game changer for live performance. I think we’re officially in the future! I met SO many people and there is a lot that I’m leaving out, but it was without a doubt the most fruitful NAMM experience to date. Thank you for putting me in a position to make these new connections and plant many seeds. I will forever be grateful to you my friend!

IMAGE (below): Tim Mills demonstrates why he has successfully built a world-class business.

NAMM Show 2024 | Bare Knuckle Pickups

PHOTOS: Bare Knuckle POLYMATH signature Nolly Getgood pickups. International orange Spearfish™ guitar wired in 10-way configuration will be on display in the Bare Knuckle Pickups booth at NAMM, January 2024. Come explore this amazing instrument.

Bare Knuckle Pickups
2024 NAMM Show January 25-28
Main Exhibit Hall
Level 1
Booth 5637

Spearfish™ specifications:
• Patented Element™ 22-fret multi-scale neck
• Fretboard Flare™ geometry
• Dunlop 6100 stainless steel frets
• Hipshot locking tuners
• Patented Intonation Cantilever™ solo bridges
• Bare Knuckle Polymath pickups
• 10-way wiring via Freeway switch
• Swamp ash body with international orange finish
• Carbon fiber pickguard
• Overall weight: 7.3 lbs

2024 brings significant change. I am actively seeking manufacturing partners and volume OEM licensing arrangements. If you are a manufacturer or investor who understands the potential, please contact. EMAIL: RICKTOONE@GMAIL.COM

Rick Toone | Luthier, LLC has an established portfolio of patents covering the most advanced guitar and bass component systems, including: neck technology, multi-scale capable bridges (both hardtail & tuning), multi-scale capable tremolo, as well as the new retrofit-compatible tremolo system with incredible best-in-class performance. Multiple additional patents pending.

PHOTOS: Spearfish™ guitar with patented Intonation Cantilever™ solo guitar bridges, precision machined from stainless steel. Swamp ash, carbon fiber.

PHOTOS: Patented Element™ guitar neck precision machined from aircraft aluminum.

MARKETING: Gabriel Levi will perform with the international orange Bare Knuckle Spearfish™ 6-string. Gabriel has an incredible touch on guitar and generous spirit. He can be reached via his website www.gabriellevi.com or Instagram www.instagram.com/gabriel.levi/ to learn more.

I’ve been daydreaming about this guitar nonstop. It’s really such a cool culmination of everything that makes your guitars special. Innovative, functional design meets radical, evocative art. This thing will blow some minds. (Gabriel Levi)

Spearfish at the show is glorious. How the heck can a Hiwatt amp transform to sound sparkly, almost Fender amp-ish, but with overdrive? Somehow the guitar coaxes that out of it. Kudos to you for creating such a glorious instrument. Anyway, Gabriel was super helpful. Will stop back tomorrow at 1 pm and see him again. (Brian Alex)

Reunion

VIDEO: Longstanding friends share a moment onstage. Gabriel Levi sits in with Chris Buono and his cB3 trio. Live at Triumph Brewing Company, Redbank, NJ (11.30.2023). Both lads are playing RICK TOONE ’67 guitars as the fretless awaits her moment backstage.

This week exactly marks one full year of Chris Buono’s residency at Triumph Brewing Company, Redbank, NJ. I am really enjoying watching his metamorphosis up close in real time.

December 6, 2022, we headed into rehearsal together, Chris to focus his band, and me to document the start of something new and potentially great. Nervous tension and excitement in the practice space as Chris prepared to return to live performance after an extended hiatus.

December 8, 2022 was the first Triumph performance.

Fast forward one year. Chris accepted a bi-weekly residency at Triumph Brewing Company, alternating his two lineups plus a rotation of guests. He looks fully at home onstage, and the bands are completely dialed in. He has a massive trove of archived live recordings from the experience.

November 30, 2023 — the plan to fly Gabriel Levi in for a day of video shooting in my studio. He was arriving from ATL to get pre-flighted on the new RICK TOONE ’67 as he steps into tremolo. Unbeknownst to me, the two of them were conspiring.

Recording the Magnets & Wire documentary/album together in November, 2019 sparked a group friendship continuing today and growing deeper over time. Last week was the first in four years Chris and Gabriel met again in person. Their conspiracy succeeded.

Listening on my laptop now, a week later, watching cardinals and blue jays at the feeder outside in the season’s first snow flurries, I’m grateful for the recording of my two friends sharing moments on stage together. Gabriel has become a serious student of the Blues during the last six months, and it shows. His already exceptional touch on the guitar is growing into a new depth of expressive musical emotion. Chris continues his role as master musician and now mentor, as he graciously shared the stage, pivoting his cB3 trio into a supporting role.

More, please.

VIDEO: Minimalist recording — AT4050 mics XY stage center plus iPhone video. Chris channels Jeff Beck while Ben works the B3 as Faye keeps time.

White Pearl Skele

PHOTOS: White Pearl Skele™ is a perfect blend of semi-hollowbody warmth with single coil spank. Classic tones with a completely modern twist. Details on this beautiful instrument include: carbon fiber, mother of pearl, alder, aircraft grade birch. Polished stainless steel frets in state-of-the-art Richlite fretboard. Quartersawn torrefied flame maple neck w/tilt back headstock and luthier’s joint. Advantage™ neck profile including Fretboard Flare™ geometry. Bare Knuckle custom pickups with 10-way switching. Patented & patent pending Pisces™ tremolo precision machined from stainless steel and aircraft aluminum.
VIDEO: Gabriel Levi combines some sweet overdrive with his vocal phrasing on the new patented & patents pending Pisces™ tremolo. Lovely semi-hollowbody tones emerge.
VIDEO: Killick Hinds plays White Pearl Skele™ clean fingerstyle. Warm deep bass notes balanced perfectly with clear treble sweetness.

Killick is channeling broad influences even in this short piece. I hear shades of Jackson Pollock, Brian Eno, and David Lynch in a mesmerizing blend of creativity and spontaneity. Hats off to this moment of brilliance! (@ShinMadero via YouTube)

Gabriel Levi Plays Sketch

VIDEO: Gabriel Levi plays Sketch™ 7-string guitar September 13, 2023. He was kind enough to share his thoughts afterword. Don Barnes filmed the session. Audio: DI re-amped via Fractal Audio FM9. It was wonderful to add Gabriel’s beautiful playing to the register of incredible musicians who have played Sketch over the years.

Gabe!! That guitar is magic and you’re just the right magician! (Chris Buono)