James Hutchinson is one of a modest number of guitar builders based here in the UK who specialises in custom instruments that are designed and constructed to order. Concepts can be adapted from an existing palette, or you can come up with something genuinely unique.
Among the myriad eye-popping designs he’s produced is the Cybertech, an instrument that has been nicknamed the Stormtrooper guitar for obvious reasons. “I was striving for the futuristic look of a robot or mech with advanced technology,” James explains.
And he’s got it spot-on. The white basswood body and maple neck have been expertly aged, and the inclusion of ports, wires and bolts does much to give the Cybertech an aura of a battered Transformer.
That’s only half the story, though. James has included an XY MIDIpad and a Fernandes Sustainer system into the mix, which give the ability to produce all manner of other-worldly sounds, and the controls that stud the body top include a hold button for the MIDIpad, a kill switch masquerading as a Mac-style on/off button, and a pair of pickup selectors that light up from within when in use. A quad coil Kent Armstrong Motherbucker offers more conventional tones, and you can select coil tap, split or parallel pickup wiring by combining settings by using the push/pull volume and tone ports.
The Cybertech pictured here would cost you in the region of £2,400. Try getting one of the big boys (Fender, Jackson, Gibson and so on) to put something like this together for you at even twice that price – and that’s if they were even to return your calls.
James is always available via the website to discuss concepts, and at the very least we suggest you go there and take a long, lusty look at some of the incredible guitars he’s made. And all in this galaxy too…
The Cybertech, £2,400, www.hutchinsonguitars.com
THE MUSE MAN COMETH: Is MB a 21st-century EVH?
Playing live, Muse are a trio that produces more instrumental tones than would seem possible from the sum of its parts. The Teignmouth superstars owe at least some of their characteristic tonal diversity to the genius that is guitarist Matt Bellamy.
Bellamy (pictured) has been playing guitars made by luthier Hugh Manson since 1997, and the spec of his first signature model, the jaw-dropping MB-1, included a Korg Koass pad, other hi-tech jiggery-pokery and a truly gorgeous neck.
The concept has been taken further for 2016’s wonderful DL-1 signature, dispensing with the MIDIpad and replacing it with the circuitry from two stompbox effects – the Z-Vex Fuzz Factory and the classic MXR Phase 90 – set inside the aluminium-clad body.
Bellamy, along with the likes of Hendrix and Van Halen, is one of rock’s true guitar innovators. Time will tell on the merits of that distinction, but there’s little doubt that he’s an real one-off.