RuinenLust Etude

VIDEO: Max McCargar takes us on a tour of ruins. Gorgeous full spectrum tone from Wingspan™ 8-string guitar. Single track, single take, improvisation live into DAW using only reverb and Goodhertz Wow plug-in.

Conquistador | Spearfish

Luis Villarreal called to inform me his daughters had just been signed to Lava Records and would be recording their — as yet untitled — third studio album: autumn of 2020, in New Jersey, with producer David Bendeth.

“I’ll meet you and prep Dany’s personal Spearfishes for recording.”

“That would be wonderful. Thank you so much, Rick.”

After some thought, I decided to build two additional Spearfish™ guitars for her to use. Moria: a 24-fret ‘fish set up for drop D tuning. And Conquistador, this 22-fret Bare Knuckle pickups-driven light weight axe…which she fell in love with for soloing.

I made four trips to visit the band at their hotel and in the various studios, including one memorable day when Chris Buono joined us. Chris was also kind enough to lend Dany his personal Goshawk™ 6-string.

Ms. Villarreal was now equipped with four of my guitars for recording.

In addition, she used guitars from David Bendeth’s vintage collection. He has decades of experience with his specific instruments, knows their frequency mix slots well, and often pushes artists to use them extensively on albums he produces.

It is not an insignificant victory this album is exclusively a recording of Rick Toone builds plus select classic instruments from the 1950’s and 1960’s. I am deeply grateful to Daniela for insisting on using my guitars (and giving David a glimpse into my world).

A few months after recording I received a phone call from The Warning’s manager, Rudy Joffroy: “Rick, this is a courtesy call to let you know Dany will be pursuing endorsement deals with major guitar companies.”

As a solo builder, one thing I cannot provide artists is tour financing and major media exposure. Dedicating time and instruments I’ve built is…as much as I can gift. Sometimes, more than I can afford to give.

I love music, and I love to help artists develop.

I wish Dany the best of luck on her next steps. A beautiful afternoon she and I had together in her hotel conference room, listening to her playing and singing as I worked on the guitars, is a memory I treasure. Her voice in private, in person, is much more delicate and beautiful than anything I’ve yet heard recorded with the band. I do hope someday her more intimate playing is recorded for posterity. She is a major talent.

I also hope The Warning’s management team and Paul Reed Smith honorably attribute credit where it is due for the sound of the pending new album.

PHOTOS: After its time in the studio, I decided to reimagine Dany’s recording Spearfish 22-fret as a work of art. I felt a vision of a Conquistador — oft-used armor & sword — stepping onto the sands and transforming a new continent.
PHOTO: David Bendeth, Dany Villarreal, Rick Toone. Spearfish™ 22-fret guitar. Sound On Sound Studios, Montclair, New Jersey.

VIDEO: Gabriel Levi explores the newly rebuilt Spearfish™ Conquistador.

DARK | Access

IMAGES: Inspired by…death metal pop art illustrator Riley Smith absolutely nailed the feeling of watching DARK playing Wingspan™ 8-string guitar.

DARK (Roopam Garg) is creating an innovative artist-audience interface model via website, based on the premise of inviting you into his headspace. Highly organized, catalogued and curated realtime insight into his works in progress: music, transcriptions, video, writings, graphics, essays.

The site updates as he generates new ideas.

I’ve never seen anything like it before — the DARK (virtual) experience is possibly analogous to being fly-on-the-wall inside an artist’s mind.

Subscription based. At a moment when touring is not an option, this might be perfect.

Fretless Spearfish

fretless spearfish guitar
PHOTOS: Fretless Spearfish™ 6-string guitar. Patent-pending Element™ single billet machined aircraft aluminum neck with engraved position markers. Patented Intonation Cantilever™ bridges. Proprietary all passive DiMarzio™ pickups with 10-way switching. Swamp ash solid body in modern poly sunburst.
spearfish fretless guitar

With the multi-scale Element™ aluminum neck I’m playing fretless now in ways I didn’t think I could…ways I didn’t even know were an option. With the multi-scale I am able to play more harmony. I can play fingerings that are simply impossible on parallel frets. (Chris Buono)

VIDEO: Chris Buono tears through 50 seconds of finger-twisting fretless improvisation. Signal chain is Noble DI > Strymon Iridium > Logic so you can hear exactly how good this guitar sounds.
VIDEO: Roopam Garg on Wingspan™ 8-string and Chris Buono on Fretless Spearfish™ 6-string. Live one-take improvisation in the guitar shop where both instruments were built.

Death Of Superman

VIDEO: Death of Superman featuring Chris Buono, Todd Haug, Ken Kinter, Gabriel Levi, Steve Sjuggerud, Rick Toone, Ede Wright. Instruments, music, lyrics, production: Rick Toone.

“Shop’s closed,” I called out. “New national holiday.”

Quiet laugh from outside. “This would be a social visit.”

Intrigued, I opened the door. Slender graceful figure, bullfighter. Dark hair, swept back, deep mirth lines around keen eyes.

“Have we met?” I asked.

“Several times. Never in person.” He stepped through the doorway, casting a quick appreciative glance at tools and systems neatly arrayed in the guitar shop. “My name is Francisco.”

I studied him: self-possessed, confident in his own body and thoughts, without arrogance. Straightforward.

“How is your supply chain?” His eyes focused directly on mine.

“Delays. Suppliers — like DiMarzio, for example — forced by government to suspend business during lockdowns. StringJoy, and others, waiting for raw materials or facing a shortage of skilled workers. Wait times for some items are more than twelve months. Prices are increasing.”

He nodded slightly.

“What are your clients saying?”

“My clients are people of means, or quite often very serious players who understand the value of my work and are willing to save for a guitar purchase…or sometimes sell off other equipment. Universally, they appreciate what I am doing: designing and building singular pieces, transforming raw materials into a finished instrument, delivered directly into their hands. They pay me, I invest back into my own company, keeping some money for my personal needs.”


Startled, I looked at him more closely. “That’s not a word I hear often…with your tone of appreciation. A friend texted me a few days ago. She was at a party with 25-30 year olds. She noticed their main discussion topic was: ‘How Capitalism has ruined their lives’.”

Holding my gaze, he said: “Because they have correctly identified they are slaves. However, they have not identified their master.”

“Provocative statement,” I responded.

“No,” he replied. “Education failure. Those partiers don’t understand they are trapped in a Socialist system — where select few politically connected classes of people are given unlimited amounts of unearned Dollars. Why do you think there is growing unrest and political tension within the United States? It’s because competing political tribes are in a fight to the death to gain access to that free money.”

I thought quietly. “What is the solution?”

“Scarcity has value. Things that are scarce are valuable…consider what you would be willing to pay for a bottle of drinking water if you were canoeing on a pristine glacial mountain lake vs. dying of thirst under relentless desert sun. This same principle applies to money. When money is unlimited, it has no value. The solution is to end the central bank: The Federal Reserve.”

He continued.

“Those angry partygoers clearly understand it is increasingly difficult to simply survive: pay for food, pay for housing. Why? Prices are going up, and the reason is: our culture is quite literally drowning in excess money. Over time that money will accelerate toward accumulating in the hands of the few, but the nature of the problem will remain unchanged.”

He shrugged, “Even if everyone was given the exact same amount of money, prices will continue to rise. Because each Dollar is worth less, as unlimited amounts of new money are created. Every additional added Dollar buys less.”

“What if the government implements price controls?” I asked. “Setting a basic price for wages, or food, or housing?”

Francisco laughed.

After a moment he walked to the window and looked out across the farm fields.

“What makes you think other nations will continue to use the Dollar? What happens when they begin to use scarcity-backed competing forms of currency: blockchain-crypto, gold? How will you survive when nobody accepts your form of worthless money?”

“Force always fails. Ours is a Darwinian planet.”