"As much as I enjoy making a "traditional" instrument out of the finest "tonewoods", I also love making instruments which push the boundaries and open new possibilities to musicians willing to explore and expand the scope of their music. The influences manifested in the Totemguitar line, to date close to 400 instruments, go back to Dada, Surrealism, collage and assemblage art, Pop art, and sometimes a more conceptual approach, along with the occasional dose of pure kitsch." - Michael Spalt
Our latest guitar from Austria-based builder Michael Spalt is simply stunning and the first of his 'Gate Series' we've had. In Michael's own words:
"The gate to our new location in Vienna needed replacement. To me, it looked like prime guitar making material. Nice weathered pine boards - resonant and light - with a wonderfully textured surface! This run of builds will be a limited series of 50 which will commemorate our move.
The body shape is based on a template for a parlour-type acoustic guitar my friend Andreas Neubauer here in Vienna got from an old local luthier's shop, ca. 1870s. The body is hollow except for a block under the tailpiece, with an inset top of the old pine gate wood, finished with a resin coat. I call the guitars in this series the "Vienna Style" as the graceful curves and the hand-rubbed finish are reminiscent of the classic well-worn Viennese coffee house chairs."
We're really loving this Gate Guitar! Michael's guitars are very complex creations. We're always discovering new things about them not only visually, but also with their feel, versatility, tones, etc...They challenge any preconceptions you may have of what an electric guitar should be.
To get one thing clear, this is a remarkable guitar by any measure, vintage or modern. The fit and finish is as good as any guitar we have in the shop. Michael's guitars are what hand-made, boutique guitars should be - organic feeling, highly musical, atypical, addictive....This guitar checks all of those boxes with ease.
The attention to detail is obvious from the second you pick it up. It just radiates quality and there are lots of subtle touches that reveal themselves upon further inspection (note the sprayed red splash of color on the body - this is from a bit of graffiti that was on Michael's fence. Too cool!). The fretwork is fantastic and helps lend to the slinky, slick overall playing experience. The neck is fat and somewhat late 50's Gibson-like and the satin finish is incredibly smooth and ratchets up the luxurious playing experience, not dissimilar from modern makers like Suhr or Anderson.
Acoustically this guitar has a loud, snappy voice that alludes to good things to come re: plugged in. Plugging into our favorite '66 Princeton Reverb, we were greeted to gorgeous, complex tones. The beautiful bone covered P90s deliver great midrange bite while not being excessive. Punchy, fat, yet with a really musical, articulate top-end....we were hooked. This is such a fun, musical, and killer sounding - and looking - guitar! Ronnie Wood could have easily sported this guitar back in the day.
Michael Spalt is making wonderfully unique instruments that should be given serious consideration for those willing to embrace new ideas about what an electric guitar can, and should, be! Highly recommended. Priced with hardshell case.