So, the next two blogs are going to focus on two people and the products they have brought to the music industry. They happen to be friends of mine, and have created some of the most unique and innovative products ever seen in the guitar world. The two products I will focus on are Babicz Guitars and Full Contact Hardware. The two gentlemen I am referring to are Jeff Babicz and Jeff Carano; Jeff Babicz being the designer/creator and Jeff Carano being the brains behind international distribution and promotion.
By now you are wondering, what this has to do with Solo Guitars, outside of the fact we now carry Full Contact Hardware in our inventory. Like many points in one’s life, several little events have taken place in my life that did not seem to have any significance but ultimately brought me to this blog. The two Jeffs both worked with Ned Steinberger at Steinberger Guitars in the late 80’s and early 90’s, another massively innovative company. (You will note we carry two headless instruments in our catalogue that are loosely based on one of the Steinberger designs). In the mid 90’s, I spent a portion of my evening at an exclusive industry party talking with Ned, a very interesting and intelligent man. Both Jeff’s are noted musicians and Jeff Babicz was already an accomplished and respected builder who was known for the quality of his work, and his innovations. In 2003 they opened Babicz Guitars, presenting a couple different guitar models with some specifically unique features. They had patented the Continually Adjustable Neck (which allows the user to change the height of the strings over the fretboard without affecting the intonation), the Torque Reducing Split Bridge (which allows the user to adjust the intonation of these acoustic guitars throughout the life of the guitar) and finally the Lateral Compression Soundboard which anchors the strings through the top in a fan shape around the lower body , and changes the not only the compression of the top and how it reacts and resonates, but allows Babicz to use a thinner top and less bracing.
What do these innovations mean to the guitar player? Well, aside from the guitar being beautifully constructed with a particularly unique appearance, the thinner top with less bracing gives the guitar it’s own sound….articulate with excellent balance from low end notes to the upper registers. It does not sound like a Martin or a Taylor, it has it’s own sound but in the same high end family. The bridge allows you to intonate when changing string gauges, something that is more costly with other guitars (as you know different string gauges require different intonation set ups). The adjustable neck allows the guitar player to change the height of the strings from an extremely fast flat set up to one that can pretty much be used for slide playing. Great tuners great fretwork and a really amazing pickup system, make this guitar a pure joy to play and one that rewards you every time you pick it up!
Anyway, I digress…. back to the early 2000’s. I had come into possession of a mid-range classical that had a broken headstock. It was a bad break, and I didn’t think the value was there to replace the neck….so I started playing around with ideas, and ended up turning it into a headless classical, with the tuners spaced evenly on the edge of the lower bout creating a fan pattern with the strings. Funny yes, useful…not so much. Later that winter at the NAMM show in LA, (National Association of Music Merchants) imagine my surprise when I walked past a booth which had acoustic guitars with a similar string arrangement on the top! I started talking to Jeff Babicz and Jeff Carano and we became pals. I ended up working for both of the Canadian distributors that carried Babicz and FCH, and I now find myself with Solo Guitars. I am also on my second Babicz guitar having first purchased the Spider (in black) and now have exactly the guitar pictured which is a dreadnaught. This brings my story all the way back to the second paragraph and how Babicz/Full Contact Hardware links to Solo Guitars.
Designers never really stop designing, and a couple years after the Babicz Guitar, the two Jeff’s released Full Contact Hardware to the market. I personally bought into this innovative hardware for my custom guitars. Even though Solo Guitars isn’t carrying Babicz Guitars at this time, we are offering Full Contact Hardware, and in next month’s blog, I will describe why this hardware is so fantastic, and why you should consider it for your own guitars or kits!