#2 OF 12 | Signature Burst & Goldtop

nik huber & bernie marsden collaborate on a pair of signature orcas, drawing inspiration from an unlikely place: surfboards

Eliot Hunt | November 1, 2022

Okay, let's start this piece by acknowledging what some may be a little embarrassed to admit - who is Bernie Marsden? Perhaps the name sounds familiar but you can't quite pin it down? Let's cut right to chase - you have for sure heard Bernie's music. How can I be so sure? Know the tune, "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake? Bernie co-wrote that tune with David Coverdale (be sure to check out the 1982 version).

In addition to writing some of the biggest hits ever, Bernie is of course into great guitars and shares a mutual friend with Nik Huber - Paul Reed Smith. The trio found themselves hanging out in Europe during a clinic tour chatting about guitars (naturally) and shortly after, Bernie phoned Nik to ask if he would be interested in building him a guitar. After getting Paul's blessing for a Huber Marsden signature model (PRS has also made a signature model for Bernie), Nik and Bernie began chatting about designs.

Known for playing solid-body guitars, namely Les Pauls, Nik sent Bernie an Orca model to check out, but Bernie was after something a little different with his Huber - more of a hollowbody. It just so happened that around this time Nik had been experimenting with new ways to chamber guitar bodies, specifically a style called 'honeycomb' routing.

"I’d seen it on surfboards, and it’s also cropped up in the world of guitars before. I was curious about where you could go with it next in terms of routing a body; the possibility of having length-grain and cross-grain connections between the body and the top can create something distinct from either a semi-hollow construction or a standard solid-body."

What Nik and Bernie ultimately landed on is a pair of Orcas that meld the best of hollowbody guitars - an airy tone with a slightly different note attack - with a solid-body guitar's heft and punch. The pair also incorporated a new design for the heel joint, a three knob configuration (vs four), and, naturally, the addition of Bernie’s signature Cream T pickups.

Cream T has developed a process which allows the company to "scan" a pair of pickups and make "100% exacting reproduction" pickup sets from guitars of famous players. They used Bernie's '59 Les Paul, dubbed "The Beast" for his signature set (Cream T has also made a copy of Billy G's "Pearly Gates" Les Paul). From Bernie...

"Thomas at Cream T has produced prototypes of the ‘Bernie Buckers’ for me to add to a few of my guitars. I have to say that I’m totally knocked out with the results. I have added them to an old Les Paul Gold Top, and a relatively new PRS BM signature guitar, and both now have an uncanny, and slightly eerie, resemblance sound-wise to the original pickups on The Beast. I still don’t really understand how he does it, but the thing is, he does!"

The resulting guitars - limited to 12 pair, a Burst and a Goldtop - are truly special instruments that re-imagine what a vintage-inspired, set-neck style guitar can be. We're truly knocked out by the results.

#2 of 12 | Signature burst

Signature Burst # 2 of 12 might have one of the nicest maple tops we've seen in a long time. The master-grade Eastern Maple top is paired with a flame mahogany body, honeycomb chambered, and a Madagascar Rosewood neck and fingerboard with black pearl crown fingerboard inlays and sterling silver surrounds. No expense was spared in the making of these guitars and it's evident from the moment you pop the custom cases - more on those below.

#2 of 12 | goldtop

The Goldtop version of the Marsden Signature Orca, also #2 of 12, captures the vibe of a 50s Les Paul while also introducing some decidely modern appointments, namely, the top carve. This guitar shares the same specs as the Burst version save for the Cream T P90s for some extra midrange snarl.


You didn't think Nik would overlook the importance of a deluxe case for these guitars, did you? These cases are absolutely stunning and will certainly be the nicest cased you own, no question.