GuitarViol... Acoustic, Electric, or ElectroCoustic?
Help! Which one's for me? (All three, but if you have to pick one... ;)
Electric (Solid Body)
The electric solid body
TogaMan GuitarViols have a significant history. They were originally designed by Jonathan Wilson in 2001 for his own application: Hybrid pluck and bow live looping performances. An earlier semi-hollow body prototype from the early 1990's often obscured monitor playback (especially if a sound man was inattentive to the sound level needs!). A solid body's relatively quiet acoustics allowed for gain adjustments on the fly seemed to be the answer (but not without extensive R&D in late 2002, early 2003). The result produced a rich plucked sound; somewhere between that of a Jazz guitar and a nylon string. This lent to a nice sonic palette for layering many different timbres and textures via sound on sound looping or multi-track performances. The TogaMan GuitarViol became an instant hit with a growing number of Film,TV, Video Game composers, and recording artists
. The exotic tones and familiar guitar format makes for a compelling medium of creative expression with both pluck and bow. For almost 8 years, the early design was essentially duplicated to address demand. In late 2009 the solid body models were put on hiatus pending re-tooling and design improvements. R&D across all models benefited the newer electrics and, as of June 2011, the Electric is back and better than ever! It features a proprietary BOWD Horizon
bridge/pickup system, Acoustaphonic pre-amp by Graphtech, and active treble, bass, and variable mid EQ by EMG.
Soundcloud audio sample by Jonathan: Feather Dust
Tyler Bates live looping/interview KCRW (Required viewing)
Typical Tuning setup: EADGBE (Standard Guitar) - Optional: BEADF#B (Low Guitar below Cello C)
Best applications: High gain, aggressive, punchy response, resistant to high feedback levels onstage. From almost acoustic textures to full blown electric rock. From DI Protools sessions to Rocking the stage!
Projects you have heard the Electric GuitarViol in action: True Blood, 300, Watchmen, Day the Earth Stood Still, CSI Miami, Spartacus, and even Jonathan himself for the video game Borderlands.
The ElectroCoustic GuitarViol
series answers the need for an electric instrument that has a more dynamic
response than that of the solid body. The heart of the instrument's function is its genuine live top (Spruce or Maple), bass bar, and pseudo sound post bridge fulcrum; essentially replicating the top mechanics of a classical violin family instrument. This top movement is captured by Dual K&K/iBEAM LR BAGGS iMIX system
. There are two pickups, one that is pressed between the (pseudo) sound-post and top and the other an LR Baggs iBEAM bass bar pickup). The DI sound is remarkable when the two pickups are blended. Current models have flywheel controls on the tail (Mix and Volume) that are active in Mono mode and bypassed in Stereo mode. By removing back cavity cover and selecting "Stereo" mode, a TRS Y cable can be routed to separate channels (DI into ProTools for instance). Each pickup to its own channel! This lends to endless mixing options with distinctively different stereo based effects on either channel! Blend a mic with DI to add an extra "dimension" to the mix!. Let your imagination run wild!
Typical Tuning: EADGBE (Standard Guitar) - Optional: BEADF#B (low B below Cello C)
Recommended for: Live acoustic/alternative music, Studio Recording, Film, TV, Video Games.
Soundcloud sample: Venetian Vineyard Dream
A few projects where you have heard an ElectroCoustic GuitarViol in action: The Black Swan, Clash of the Titans, Medal of Honor, Drive Angry, CSI New York and more!
On the surface, it would seem that the concept of an Acoustic GuitarViol
would need no introduction. However, the Acoustic GuitarViol is no ordinary acoustic instrument!! It had to fit into the constraints and requirements of its creator Jonathan Wilson who had the unreasonable and unrelenting vision to bring it to its highest realization. This was not to be a mere novelty or revival of its bowed guitar ancestor the *Arpeggione
or even the Viola Da Gamba
. This was to be a fine musical instrument that exceeds expectations. One that has both the harmonic fingerboard reference of guitar and complex tones favorably compared that of fine traditional Italian violin family stringed instruments while retaining its own unique identity. This is no small feat. Having the cake and eating it too comes with a lot of loose ends and challenges that range from exacting fingerboard geometry to compensated bridges to optimally voiced tops. The most recent breakthroughs include press bent tops with a superior thickness to density ratio (5% louder with more dynamic color and range than previous tops!) and Stealth frets that play like a dream. Other innovations include distinctive waist sound ports and twisted to neck heel cutaway that allows unhindered access to upper register. There is no mistaking the Acoustic GuitarViol at a glance because its look is both classical and modern (like none other!).
Typical Tuning: BEADF#B (Low guitar sequence below Cello C) - Optional Tuning: EADGBE (Standard Guitar) * specified at time of set-up
Though this is an acoustic, they all come with a pickup! The pickup also serves as a "second mic" when recording. Because the mic is typically at a minimal distance, there are usually no phase issues and this DI and mic recording approach adds a beautiful dimension to the mix!
If you are after all the benefits the GuitarViol has to offer as well as a fine instrument, the Acoustic type may just be the one for you! It's complex overtones give goosebumps to both listener and player alike.