Every guitar player has different needs and wants from an instrument. What's regarded as killer tone by one might be considered mud by another. The majority of a high street shop's stock will likely turn lefties more than a little green. And who can afford to make room for guitar racks in tight studio spaces or cramped venues? Sean Michael Berg of Bergstok Music is aiming to solve all of these issues with guitars featuring a wire-free pickup system that caters for super quick swaps and custom positioning, a design that allows for left or right hander setup and includes an integrated kickstand.
Berg founded Bergstok Music in 2012 and has custom builds in the wild. But he wants to get his creations into the hands of more players, so has launched on Kickstarter to fund the production of two new models.
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The guitars in question are the already prototyped AxeM and the shown-in-render-only R103. Both are built around a maple body sandwiched between top and bottom layers of ash, with the middle section bolted to a 22-fret neck. The double-cut instruments feature a similar symmetrical body shape for left/right hander orientation, strap hooks on both sides of the instrument and the same gaping holes above and below the bridge – which not only offer a sculpted aesthetic but also serve as carry handles.
The Bergstok guitars come with a patent-pending reversible bridge and a patent-pending, height-adjustable reversible nut to make adjustment for left/right playing less of a chore, and a player will also be able to unplug the volume and tone controls from one wing of the body and plug them into the other for left- or right-handed playing.
Though the reversible nature of the guitars may be a one-off setup for most players, the design does have practical appeal for teachers, who can stock just one instrument for left- or right-handed students and swap between the two between lessons.
The guitars have a steel plate within a body cavity with conductive strips running along it that are wired up to the guitar's electronics. Pickups installed into magnet-packing frames can then be attached to the plate, moved around within the box as desired, or mixed and matched with different types. Then the guitar is ready to shred. Pickup selection is undertaken using a trigger switch placed in the body gap.
While it's not clear whether buyers will have to get pre-built pickup frames direct from Bergstok or be able to wire up their pickups of choice to a stock frame, this system does appear to open up more tone possibilities for players not skilled with a soldering iron or lucky enough to have their own guitar techs.
The new Bergstoks also include a novel spring-assisted, magnetically-latched kickstand. When a player wants to park the guitar, the kickstand is pulled away from the body and the strap pegs behind the bridge used as feet, making for a tripod-like freestanding setup that should make it less prone to accidental knock-overs than, say, a clip-on solution like the Standley. Interestingly, the output jack has been positioned within a half moon groove, which should mean that the guitar's cable can safely be left in situ when in kickstand mode.
The AxeM/R103 project has launched on Kickstarter today, with pledges starting at US$1,500 – though instruments from the existing Bergstok range are also being offered at lower pledge levels. If all goes to plan, the feature guitars are pegged for November shipping. Berg talks about the project in the pitch video below.