Adriano Sergio, the force behind Ergon Guitars, is a lifelong craftsman and experienced musician. Starting at the age of five with a few tools provided by his parents, he grew up watching his father and exploring creatively. Working by hand, using mostly traditional tools, Adriano’s work is the epitome of art in guitar form. His Lisboa MK design seamlessly melds modern guitar electronics with classical shapes and tone in an organically flowing form.
Guitar Connoisseur: What is the importance of the dovetail slide in neck-thru joint?
Adriano Sergio: I believe the importance of using this kind of joint comes down to three factors. First, and I as a bit of a romantic believe, the increased area of wood in the joint benefits the tone of the instrument. It gives a result that is balanced between a set neck and a fully neck-thru joint.
Second, the fact that it is a dovetail joint gives a more structural sturdiness. I believe it gives a more durable instrument in the long run. Combined with the fact that the joint is wider and deeper than the size of the neck, it allows me to shape that area more freely than otherwise. This provides a more comfortable playing experience in the upper section of the fingerboard.
Third, being a slide in neck joint allows me to try out the result of different necks before I glue them in place. This way, I can see what different kinds of necks work with different kinds of bodies and try out several wood combinations.
GC: What are the advantages of using a zero fret?
AS: A zero fret allows the open strings to have the same timbric response as the fretted notes. This way, the guitar has the same response regardless of the chord combination the player uses. I am also very happy with the intonation achieved in the beginning of the fretboard, both on the guitars and the basses.
GC: How do the sculpted holes affect the sound of the instrument?
AS: They look great! But besides adding to the overall aesthetic of the instrument, the fact that they are over-imposed (kind of like the air intake on a sports car) I think it allows for a more controlled vibration of the top when comparing to a traditional “F” hole, taming the feedback generation even more. Also, it enhances the acoustic properties of the guitar, given the wide chambering present inside the instrument.
GC: Does the cymbal brass tailpiece add resonance to the guitar, or is it more of an aesthetic item?
AS: It definitely makes a difference. I have compared it with other solutions made of different types of wood. Some musicians have told me that they actually take part of the added resonance of the cymbal brass tailpiece in their sonic approach. And using old cymbals is a great way to recycle materials.
GC: Why did you go with the mini Humbucker versus a standard Humbucker?
AS: It happened by chance! Ezi from Ezi Pickups reached out to me so I decided to give them a go. On previous Lisboas, I used Lundgren standard Humbucker. I was satisfied with the sound I got from those pickups, but I never liked the aesthetic look of them. The wood covers on the Ezi pickup are fantastic, and using mini Humbuckers allows me to remove less wood from the guitar, which is something I’m, very cautious about. It was the first time I used his pickups, so I am still finding out what works best, but so far I am very pleased.
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GC: What was the inspiration behind using Spanish Cedar for the top?
AS: I don’t just use Spanish Cedar, I also use Red Cedar. But the reasoning behind using cedar tops has to do with warm tone and light weight that this wood gives the instrument. I can achieve a big acoustic sound in a thin-line sized guitar.
GC: What is the design process you use to create such flowing, organic body shapes?
AS: The design process rests on my respect for the age-old designs that have proven to work and sound great. When designing a new guitar, I start by carving a rough shape out of hard foam before moving on to the actual wood. As for the flowing and organic shapes, it comes out of a lifelong love and interest for art and beautiful things reflected in details like trying to find a balance in asymmetrical lines. I also always keep in mind the ergonomic comfort of the instrument that ideally should be an extension of the player’s body to have nothing blocking his or her musical expression.
GC: What sort of player did you have in mind when you designed this model?
AS: I really didn’t have a specific sort of player in mind. I wanted to create a versatile and comfortable guitar to be used as a tool for different needs. This model has been used from jazz to blues to rock, and surprisingly, even metal and all musical styles yield a good result.
GC: What are the benefits of handcrafting every part of the instrument?
AS: The main benefit is that you are in constant connection with the instrument, and you can choose different paths along the way. Whatever decisions come along are made by me, not a machine. It gives me the freedom to try different approaches all the way throughout the process, from start to finish. And I am always listening to how the sound is evolving.
GC: The colors and dark contours of the Lisboa MK seem to recall memories of classical string instruments like the violin, was that in your mind from the beginning?
AS: From the very beginning I always had in my mind’s eye a very ancient and well-worn Stradivarius violin. That is the inspiration for the dark contours & colors.
To learn more about Ergon Guitars please visit: ergonguitars.com
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