What if the electric guitar would have been invented in 1895? Could you please make me that guitar? My client asked me these questions back in 2008. I didn’t obviously know it at the time, but that question would plunge me onto this fantastic imaginary journey through an alternative past, mashing up actual historic events to science fiction and fantasy.
Finally, in 2014, I got the Captain Nemo guitar ready. Just in time to be introduced at the first edition of The Holy Grail Guitar Show in Berlin. We made a video for the show – the Captain Nemo being our show center piece.
The Captain Nemo surprised me – not only by how fascinating ways history and fantasy entwined together in the design, but also by the outstanding tone of the tube driven active pickup that I developed together with Jyrki and Jorma Kostamo.
The conceptual design of the Captain Nemo ended up as a mashup of the Unicorn design and features of violin and classical guitar. I built the guitar personally, except the beautiful tailpiece and headstock wood carvings were made by Jani Rinta-keturi.
This guitar taught me an important lesson. I dived into the project head first, without really considering if it made sense or not. I was just so absolutely fascinated with the story of it. You know, digging up old historic facts of what was going on in the end of 19th century, and conjuring up “the first electric guitar in the world”. It was great fun!
The project took over five years to complete, and in one way it was completely senseless. But at the same time, it lead me to the very source of creativity – joyous, childlike play. And as a result of all the fun, I happened to stumble on a novel idea of the vacuum tube powered pickup, later to be known as the Valvebucker®.
First I thought it would be more like a super cool detail in a one-off custom guitar with a strong steampunk vibe to it – but it turned out to be so much more. See here what I mean!
The lesson I learned? To trust my gut feeling and not hesitate on taking crazy challenges that don’t necessarily appear to make any sense on first glance. It is often scary to go where you haven’t gone before, cause you can never quite know what you find until you take the leap. But hey, that’s the trick! If you don’t take your chances, you won’t ever stumble on the coolest ideas, either.
Here’s a little photo gallery for you, hope you enjoy it!