Two years is a long time to come up with a guitar shape - or so you might think.
After all, there are thousands of them out there in all different shapes and sizes, so how hard can it be to just copy o Stratocaster or a Les Paul, make a few tweaks to get past the legal eagles and call it your own? That's what hundreds of other clone manufacturers do, right?
Well, at BTLX, we don't want to be just another clone churning out copies of other people's guitars.
We want to stand alone with our own unique look, feel and sound, and win over the hearts of musicians with our own product.
Of course that doesn't account for an entire 24 months of development.
During that time, we've been experimenting with shapes and material combinations. How they interact with each other. How a tighter curve here or a fatter bulge there can result in an entirely different sound. How moving a bracing rod by an inch can allow the entire instrument to resonate more freely, producing a greater volume.
You see it's our aim to produce a hybrid instrument. One that combines all the best features of an acoustic guitar, with those of an electric guitar, and we think we've just about cracked it.
I know what you're saying. That this has already been done with big bodied jazz guitars and the likes of the Gibson 335 and Epi Casino's. But has it really though?
Sure, the big bodied jazz guitars perform nicely as an acoustic and also amplify well, but they're bulky and unwieldy. The 335 has a thinner body, although still quite large, but it loses a lot of performance in the acoustic stakes. and both are heavy instruments.
We wanted to create an instrument that performs electrically just like a Strat or a Tele, performs acoustically like a Lowden or an Ovation, has the comfortable compact shape of an electric guitar, and is so lightweight you won't even know it's there.
A tough challenge.
That's why it's been two years in development.
But now, we finally have a design that's been signed off as ready for production.
The final shaping of the monocoque body has been completed and we couldn't be happier with the slimline shape and carefully placed resonance features.
Right now, it's simply a three dimensional shape made out of MDF and plaster mounted onto a board - and the workshop looks like it's been snowing inside. Plaster dust gets everywhere when you sand it, but it keeps the damp down at least.
This shape - or plug as it should really be called - is the master template for all BTLX guitars to follow, and will soon be stashed away in a very safe, dry place where only my cats have access.
It's currently at the sealing stage, so the layers of primer and polyurethane are being built up slowly, carefully sanded between coats until a glass smooth surface is attained, whereupon it will be liberally coated with poly vinyl alcohol and a rather heavy reusable fibreglass mould will be produced from it this coming week.
Once this mould is in place, we are then able to make as many carbon fibre monocoque bodies as our pretty little hearts desire, and production of the BTLX line can begin proper.
In the meantime, for the curious among you who are wondering what BTLX will look like, here's a couple of photos after the first layer of primer was applied. Bear in mind that this is only what the back of the guitar will look like, and the finished product won't be grey - it will be shiny glossy black carbon fibre, but you get the idea, and it gives a definite indication of how slimline the body will actually be.
So until next time folks - whether it be EADGBE, DADGAD or an open chord - stay tuned for more updates.