Ede was my friend. We had a fierce friendship, like brothers. His birthday only a few days from mine, one year apart.
Ede was my harshest critic…nobody could pick apart one of my builds like he could. Not even close, although Steve Blucher pokes me with the pointed stick pretty good sometimes. Ede was molecular, though. Whenever I sent a guitar to him for testing, I braced for a week of text messages and phone calls as he pulled the meat off the carcass. There was an Homeric story arc to the analysis, an epic of discovery: destruction, redemption. Articulate dissection which always transformed me into a better artist. Sacrificial flesh burned from the bones over open flames.
I loved him for that.
Only a very few players have earned test pilot status with me, and there’s the reason. You’ve got to be willing to hit with full force.
So many memories…
Earthbound Gravity arriving FedEx in spring of 2014 after an email introduction. Eyes closed, listening to his CD on the big monitors in the main room of the little cottage in Califon, NJ.
Driving from Fort Worth to Dallas to meet Ede on tour in the lobby of the airport hotel. USM™ with me. A long conversation as he played acoustically in the Texas sunlight through glass window walls. Introducing me to one of the band’s beautiful female vocalists.
Microbrews and burgers a few blocks from his apartment in Atlanta, after hours of testing. Discussing guitars and bicycling — torn hamstring — diving accident horsing with nephews in the pool at a family gathering. Gabriel Levi with us, attending AIMM at the time. If there is any one thing Ede is most proud of, I would guess it was helping Gabriel launch his career. Gabriel is both the son Ede never had, and also the player who is stepping into his legacy.
Another deep bond and friendship, there.
His blistering outro solo on Death of Superman.
Ede arriving to our Magnets and Wire session at Steve Sjuggerud’s place in Florida, November, 2019. Setting up his amps and coaching me on mic placement. His epic duel with Chris Buono, covering Superstition (Casting an appropriate spell to make the noise go away). The three of us alone at dinner after, me watching the true respect those two Masters had for each other.
Tour reports from life on the bus, in airports, on stages. Local foods and beers. An absolute passion and educated palette for red wines.
Our final phone conversation. Ede laying out with clinical honesty the side effects of the C19 vaccine that destroyed his heart. Being on the transplant list, knowing there was not enough time. Wanting to record as much as he could in the remaining few months.
Chris Buono is a good personal friend as well as one of my best test pilots. For the last decade he has fearlessly played anything I’ve built — often sight unseen…and before a live audience. The only exception I can think of is the Harp Guitar (but we are also in the midst of a pandemic).
With the possible exception of Steve Sjuggerud, Chris has certainly played the greatest range of instruments I’ve built, which makes him uniquely qualified to make comparisons and discuss preferences. If you ever want an objective opinion about my work from a working professional…contact Chris.
I’ve never (ever) asked any of my artists to be exclusive to the guitars I’ve gifted or sold them. I believe in free markets and free association. If an instrument is a good match, it will naturally become an honest favorite. Chris owns a Goshawk™ which seems to appear on a high percentage of his work since it arrived to him.
A good sign.
Chris is a master teacher. Hit him up to take your playing to next level.
Windows open, cool early spring air offsetting the warmth of sunlight on the building. Trees just beginning to bud, Robins and Red Wing Blackbirds in lively song all around us. My dog, Lena, content to lie in the grass and wait for our run.
I set up the Apple laptop, Apogee converter on my workbench. Direct into Logic, with one channel each for guitar and sub-bass. Capture the sound of this instrument as accurately as possible.
All twelve strings tuned: EGABCD sub-bass, EADGBE guitar.
Pause. What will I play?
I slowly breathed. Let the thoughts fade, emotions replacing them. I asked myself: “What are you feeling?”
All of humanity feels what’s coming. Storms just beyond the horizon. There is a weight to this moment. If ever there was a time to take out Skynet and eradicate the fucking filters, this would be now. While we can still connect as a species, person to person, beyond the systems of corporate and government power. Communicate necessary truths peer-to-peer across geographic and political borders.
I picked up my guitar pick and clicked record.
“This thing looks incredible.” (Tosin Abasi)
“Gorgeous all around! I just listened on the big speakers. The lows are excellent. Those basses sound beautiful!” (Killick Hinds)
“Hope it won’t offend you to say the first thing I noticed was the excellence of your photography. Might have been a different career path in another life. What to say about the guitar? It’s another of your creations that could easily be displayed in a museum. More practically, I’d love to hear a player with a classical background try it. Wonder what some of the teachers at Berklee would make of it?” (Steve Blucher)
Wow Rick…I feel like I have just glimpsed decades into the future! This must be the ‘poly-metal alloy’ construction…I enjoyed your commentary too, very poignant. (Alasdair Bryce)
“NAMM was an excellent experience – and thank you so much for offering your outstanding guitars! Little Angle Wing exerted a magnetic pull on anyone within eyesight of it – I am serious, even NAMM officials came up to ask about it and our booth enjoyed a constant flow of visitors as a result. I was able to see that guitar in the hands of several gifted players at the show – I am less of an 8-string player myself but I loved the Goshawk, all tonal planets are in alignment with that instrument in a way which is quite unique, the variable split concept being only one element of the synergy going on there. Steve was a pleasure to be around from start to finish and an excellent ambassador too – not to mention a great player!” (Alasdair Bryce)
“My good friend Bryan (owner of the “Modern Guitarist” company, which I am an original member and moderator for), went as my proxy of sorts and checked out Little Angle Wing at NAMM – he basically said ‘it’s a guitar from 2121’ and was just floored in how deliberate it was in execution, aside from being the most incredible 8 string he’d ever played.” (Matt Richards)
“Jason from NSF Controls is a real guitar player. And he was blown away. Loves the guitar and the switch. Good times. Man, the end result is everyone loves both guitars…in different ways. Most people were instantly in love with Goshawk™ comfortable right away and seeing it as a premium instrument. Most were simultaneously very curious and fearful of Little Angle Wing. Only young players could take it on full flight.” (Steve Sjuggerud)
“Man I’m telling you, the clarity of Little Angle Wing is something I haven’t heard in other guitars. The tension is so good on it, no flub and pure sustain. I experimented with tapping on the 20-24th frets and no dead spots. Just awesome.” (Gabriel Levi)