Ede Wright 1966-2022
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 2020 | Report
“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)
NAMM 2020 | Free-Way Switch (Booth 2726 Hall E)
This year I have teamed with Alasdair Bryce, inventor of the Free-Way™ Switch (NSF Controls), for NAMM 2020. Steve Sjuggerud has invented an add-on to the Free-Way™ which will completely revolutionize the sound and performance of pickup coil splits.
I will not explain Steve’s invention at this time. He and Alasdair will be at NAMM in person to demonstrate this important new technology. Go experience.
NAMM Show: Booth 2726 Hall E
Little Angle Wing 8-string guitar.
Hi Rick, I wanted mention that your 8-string fan-fret guitar will be the pride of the Free-Way booth and we are hugely appreciative to be hosting it at NAMM!! That guitar is a fusion of worlds ideas and materials – an absolute masterclass. (Alasdair Bryce)
Magnets And Wire | Album & Documentary
“Hey!” I asked, “Would you guys be interested in recording an album? I have an idea in mind.”
A flood of yesses flowed in before I had a chance to explain…
I had developed independent friendships with each of them as individuals, but most had never met one another in person, just basic awareness as fellow artists via my website. All of them have been loyal long-time supporters of my craft. I knew this mix of personalities would be synergistic and supportive.
Even working professional musicians find it difficult to gain enough time and space to be able to record an album. The pressures of touring, teaching, writing, and performing are intense. And so many of my clients are passionate amateurs — in the purest sense — they make a living unrelated to music, yet dedicate their free time to playing. Many are highly skilled but have no outlet to record.
I want to change that.
To keep our focus tight and set logistically achievable goals, we established several criteria. Each participant will be featured on at least one song. Choose someone(s) to collaborate with or perform solo if you wish. Most importantly, recordings will be first or second take…looking to capture spontaneous magic.
Steve Sjuggerud contributed his time and resources with incredible generosity. He hosted us at his location Sugar Pointe, surprised everyone with custom t-shirts and a coastal waters sunset cruise, plus brought in supremely talented photographer Adam King (check out those photos!) and drummer Dan Ostrowski to add depth to our mix. Thank you, Steve. Thank you also to Steve’s wife Kassy, and his business partners Chris & Kelly Manus.
Killick Hinds generously contributed his audio recording and production skills, first in tandem with me on location, then in his studio mixing and mastering. His deft touch transformed the raw audio into a coherent whole — a difficult task because each song was an entirely different arrangement of room, mics, musicians.
I gratefully thank Chris Buono, Todd Haug, Ken Kinter, Gabriel Levi, and Ede Wright for flying or driving to Florida to contribute their beautiful art.
PS: This album is dedicated to SB. You have inspired many more lives than you could ever know.
NYSE | Steve Sjuggerud
The Yellow Cab Prius slotted itself into an imaginary third lane. Horns are a tool to open opportunities, and my taxi driver was clearing our path to Wall Street. Touching 60 mph down the next block, tires chirping as we came to a dead stop mid-intersection, inches from the box truck bumper in front of us.
“Unexpected,” he muttered.
Yesterday, Steve Sjuggerud rang the closing bell for the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange). He was also keynote speaker, presenting his film: New Money. I love Steve, and it was exciting to support him in his new venture, so lower Manhattan was the setting for our meeting this time.
Seven visible layers of security then an elevator ride, we stepped onto the trading floor.
Power is not a sufficient word, but is the precise word. Immersive powered electronic environment, labyrinthine, purposeful. On these screens, fortunes are made (and lost) in less than an instant. Capital from investors and central banks are injected into this abstract Darwinian metaphor, traded so fast that — even at the speed of light — proximity to the exchange matters, influencing real estate prices as companies compete to locate hardware closer to the NYSE.
The pulse of human ambition, the collective physical and intellectual labor of billions of people, flow through this space in fractional seconds.
Up in the balcony, Steve banged the iconic gavel and spontaneous cheers erupted around me as the trading day came to an end (Tuesday, April 16, 2019 @ 4 PM EST). Asia then Europe will carry things forward overnight then into tomorrow.
“Money flows to where it’s treated well.” (Steve Sjuggerud)
Later, at the reception, I balanced a small plate of exquisite medium rare porterhouse as Steve shared his initial impressions of the treble bleed capacitor on the wiring harness I’d sent him for testing. A few blocks away, Steve Blucher’s ears were no doubt tingling. Yes, talking guitars, Jack Ma and Warren Buffet looking on.
Just for a moment my concentration broke. An emotion, unfamiliar, a realization…an appreciation…as two worlds clicked together and I felt the course of this incredible journey in lutherie.
PS: Kind thank you to Steve Sjuggerud and his family (and staff).
It is such a joy to get time with great friends, especially involving music. When Steve Sjuggerud invited me to visit him in Florida this past week, it was an immediate yes.
The occasion was a live performance featuring Steve, Dan Ostrowski (drums), and acoustic guitarist Mike Dawes. Mike was visiting from UK, enroute to tour dates of his own. Also, we would be filming video…of the live performance, plus interviews.
More on that soon.
The next several days were just Mike, Steve, and me hanging out and testing guitars. Steve owns a stunning collection of original iconic vintage gear, lovingly curated, in perfect playing condition: Trainwreck, 1969 100-watt Marshall, Fender 1959 Strat. Plus some of the best new gear: Gil Yaron 1959 Les Paul replica, 1964 Fender Tweed replica, Blug amplifier system.
Essential benchmark guitar tone references.
Against them, we would be comparing two Goshawk™ 6-string prototype guitars I’d just completed.
What you might not know, what you might not expect, Mike Dawes — although known for his acoustic skills — is actually one of the best electric guitarists I’ve ever heard. His playing is fluid, melodic, effortless. Metal, shred…
Mike and Steve ripping together through Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” at concert volume still has me grinning ear to ear, a few days and a few thousand miles later.