Live @ Triumph Brewing Company
Coastal air off the Atlantic seeps in under Sandy Hook, slyly flirting with Navesink River dampness, the extended New York metro tang of NJ Turnpike combustion and chemical refineries. Onshore, offshore. Giants to the north, Eagles to the south. Manhattan commuters. Money.
Chris Buono will flit through this mist, reaching up with (funk you) Jersey Attitude™ to grab Big Apple brass and polish it against shore prog rhythms. Triumph Brewing Company, Red Bank, New Jersey is our venue, as he prepares to take onstage residency for the next several months.
Risk is real…
He’s coming in cold, struggling—rehabilitating—excruciating left arm pain via pinched nerves in his spine. This band is total raw bar, two hours of rehearsal and digital chord charts as guidance through an improv jazz wilderness marshland.
Chris debuting two new guitars I built for him: his custom multiscale fretless “Fragile” and “Green Monster” who is also holding my tremolo. Cody McCorry is playing another build so fresh the finish is still drying: “Orchid” bass. New and unfamiliar instruments for both of these masterful players. And a chance to capture their sounds live, in the wild.
We are in this together. Tonight is opening night.
With the recording, I am seeking to capture the village vanguard intimacy of Bill Evans. Snapshot this moment. Band banter. Audience chatter, barstools and glasses. 1961 turns 2022. Killick Hinds beautifully brings his touch to the mixing and mastering. Deeply grateful we had this opportunity to work together.
Chris Buono — music & guitar
Anibal Rojas — synth sax
Cody McCorry — bass
Faye Fadem — drums
Killick Hinds — mixing & mastering
Rick Toone — recording & production
“If I died right now I would want you to show the world ‘Raining Caterpillars’ and say this what I truly sounded like when I was dialed in. For that I’m indebted to you both.” (Chris Buono)
Purple Goshawk is beautiful. It’s somehow both more than I expected yet exactly what I had in mind. I’ve just taken it on the inaugural run by playing “Meridian” by Intervals and this instrument is an extension of me…playability, sustain, vibrancy of tone, as well as the aesthetic…I am at a loss for words. It’s alive.
When I was very young, 8/9 maybe, I had a book featuring a history of guitars. It had everything, from the first modern Italian guitars, to PRS, and even Ibanez and Klein harp guitars. I read it until the binding crumbled, then I taped it together and kept on reading. I knew at that age that an ultimate goal of mine would be to become the best player I could be, and to work with the best builder. Well, now 31 years old, I’ve achieved just that…at least the builder part, we never stop growing as a player.
Thank you for this build. There is a connection people like us have to our tools that not many on the outside can easily grasp, and I know my words would be lost on many. This instrument is an ultimate channel for my creative passion, and I appreciate the time and effort you poured into this Goshawk to make it perfectly for me. (Bryan Capriglione)
Chris Buono | Fretless
Chris Buono is battling pinched nerve spinal issues caused (in part) by years of tortured ergonomic playing posture. The resulting neuropathy brings on debilitating chronic pain and numbness extending from his left shoulder all the way down to his thumb.
This is a recurring theme I’ve seen in many players to various degrees, throughout my career. The solution involves better instrument design.
Our priority was threefold…
First, design an instrument focused on posture correction to help relive discomfort, allowing Chris to continue to work as he heals. Second, to help prevent or at least greatly diminish future nerve inflammation issues. We want to keep Chris healthy so he can continue his career for decades to come.
Equally importantly, the guitar will simultaneously extend his formidable fretless technique into new territory.
Fretless guitar is extraordinarily difficult to master. A player must have the skilled intonation of a classical stringed instrument musician—violin, viola, cello—plus the added ability to precisely form chords.
The reward for mastery is supreme expressiveness.
Yesterday I was treated to a private test flight when we met in his studio to debut the new guitar. Running straight into a hot-rodded vintage Marshall, one of the first things he played was EVH’s Panama solo. Absolutely mesmerizing to watch.
Chris is going to be dangerous on this machine.
Total game changer. (Chris Buono)
This is the single best piece of “functional art” I have ever seen. AMAZING.
(Steve Pucciarelli: Reactive Neuro Physical Advancement Center)
Blame It On My Youth
I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to reach out (after way too long) and just mention that I really was moved by your recent blog post about Ede’s passing and your friendship.
I discovered him when he was demoing one of your guitars and became an instant fan of his music. (I wish there was more!) When I reached out to him to tell him, he was gracious, friendly, and very complimentary of you and your instruments.
I hope that you are doing well. I recently watched the videos that we filmed at UNH and always love hearing Cupid!
All the best,
So good to hear from David.
I’ve flown the flag at half-mast since Ede Wright’s passing, but if his spirit were to appear in my shop, his first words would be: “Look forward.”
Ede’s death was a tragic and unnecessary side effect of the greater cultural-psychological illness that has swept through our society these last two years. Like every scorched earth event though, green shoots appear in the aftermath.
True friendships have grown stronger. Dead wood has burned away. Autumn leaves are peak color, birds calling these final moments of sunlit warmth. Blame my errors on my youth.
Wingspan Reptile 8
Your work of art arrived at my doorstep this morning!
Although I’ve only had a few hours to get to know it, here are a few things I can say right away, in the order they came to me:
This is not a guitar, this is a sculpture, a work of art — visually it is stunning, and it felt right away comfortable to hold and play.
The neck is extremely comfortable — it is quite impressive how playing the low strings is much easier than with my other 8-strings.
I’ve never experienced such precision of the note attack and clean sustain — the best way I can describe them is piano- or bell-like, with excellent consistency between fretted and open strings.
Thank you so much for creating such a beautiful instrument!! (Jorge)
Kanashimi | Fabio Mittino
I would like to share with you my new composition from the album “Simple Music for Difficult People Vol.4”.
I think this song expresses both love and melancholy. For this reason, I titled it “Kanashimi”, which in Japanese usually means sadness. However, if Kanashimi is written 愛しみ instead of 哀しみ, it means love.
Everything is played in real time!
I’ll be touring the West Coast this July, but I’ll be on the East Coast this winter: I hope to be able to meet you again!
Many years ago we had chatted back and forth about guitar building. I didn’t have the opportunities to get into building my own creations the way I envisioned, but I still follow all the work you create. I’ve reached a stage in my life/career though where the possibility of obtaining one of your creations is within reach.
Your Orchid body shape has been one of my favorites since the first purple bass. I have been dreaming about almost this exact guitar and contemplating reaching out to you about the creation of a SSB Orchid Multiscale guitar for a few months now. To see this (Orchid 7-string) blows my mind, for me it exists in a way that feels like a future memory I’ve somehow tuned into.
Orchid design ideas:
A sense of age/wear (Shou Sugi Ban, old wood, wear patterns?)
Metal parts with patina, maybe even damascus (jack-plate, cavity cover, string anchor?)
Scar(s) from a repair (kintsugi, butterfly/bowtie, knot patch?)
Any other specs like wood types, details, pickup type, colors I’m happy to leave up to you. I trust in your craft and creativity, whatever speaks to you or works well together. I just wanted to lead with some potential ideas and concepts, and let you take it from there! The pickup choice in particular might be dictated by the acoustic qualities of the instrument. Totally happy to get more granular and add input or decisions as well if needed though, and if any of the design ideas are too abstract, let me know.
Really excited for this! (Jesse)
The guitar has arrived and it is perhaps the most stunning thing I have ever seen! It’s at once everything I hoped it would be, and still uniquely surprising. There is no question that nothing else like it exists, I absolutely love it. First play through unplugged and it’s clear and effortless; this is really what I needed to help take my playing to a new level. More to come when I have a chance to plug in and crank it up. In due time I aim to be a lot more active on Instagram and YouTube sharing my exploration into new edges of guitar composition and sound.
I can’t thank you enough for this creation and I hope to do it justice. (Jesse)
Saturday, I hosted Chris Buono and Adam J. Wilson for a focus group session. Our mission was to evaluate two current areas of research: multi-scale fretless design, and Pisces™ tremolo performance.
We tested both of Adam’s fretless Spearfish™ guitars plus Pisces™ prototype through an extensive array of tube and solid state amps plus modeling: Roland Jazz Chorus, Carr, Fender ’64 Deluxe, AxeFx II.
Not many people in the world play fretless guitar, let alone exceptionally well, nor do many people build fretless guitars, let alone exceptionally well. Today, I got to hang with both varieties. With all that’s going on in the world, this was a welcome respite. (Adam J. Wilson)
In addition to intensive discussion, I was treated to several hours of duets and solo improvisation. You are already well familiar with Chris Buono and his mastery of the instrument. Adam is similarly gifted, employing a fascinating two handed fretless tap technique. He makes fretless shredding look absolutely effortless…micro-tones, scales, harmonies: eight fingertips on the fingerboard is just so fast.
A meeting of like-minded fretless freaks is a rare thing. This was an immensely important day for me on many fronts and will surely change how I approach fretless guitar going forward. (Chris Buono)
I have some new ideas for how to improve fretless design. Fretless is a tiny niche market of players who are super skilled and super dedicated to the almost limitless possibilities of a life without speed bumps.
Imagine the virtuosity of a solo violinist yet with the added capability of harmony.
Glorious day of exploration and learning. Most importantly…it was so good to see old friends in person. Magic happens when we share a space and music together.