by Steve Rider
It’s no secret that many guitar players and builders are highly conservative when it comes to the construction of their prized instruments. Year after year, new models with similar construction and specs to the traditional standards are rolled out by the big names. When innovation does happen, it is often met with criticism from the guitar community at large. For example, the Gibson Min-ETune “robotic” automatic tuners were not exactly welcomed with open arms. Many people feel that guitar innovation peaked with those Holy Grail instruments from the 50s and 60s. Technology has certainly not stood still over the past seventy years. Some manufacturers have created products such as quick change pickup with snap together wire harnesses and midi controller compatible instruments. But the question remains: is there room for true innovation in the construction of electric guitars?
Enter Silvan Küng and Pirmin Giger, the Swiss duo behind the Relish brand co-founders of Relish Brothers AG. The pair has designed an instrument that is high-end, sleek, and innovative, reminiscent of prized Swiss timepieces. Working with a lean operation of three luthiers, one back room support person in addition to Kung and Giger, they have produced over one thousand guitars since their foundation in 2013. This production system consists of one-piece-flow working stations and a new manufacturing facility located in Sempach Station, Switzerland. This has allowed Relish to enter into the $1.2 billion guitar export market with their brand new approach to design, taking advantage of the growing high-end market, producing 550 guitars in 2017 alone.
There is a beauty and fascination that comes when looking into the mysterious inner workings of precision engineered Swiss timepieces: the seemingly impossibly small gears and springs whirling within their dance of form and function. Relish has captured this magic with the design of their guitars: Precision machined frames housing intricate electronics, pickups that can be changed out by hand without tools, sustainable bamboo necks, and sleek outer shells of wood. The pickup swapping solution allows guitarists to instantly change out any standard humbucker-sized pickup using a patented process. Simply unscrew the knob on the back of the pickup assembly and pull it right out, replacing in the same easy process. This allows a single guitar to take the place of many different guitars in order to achieve the tailored sound the musician is seeking for any genre. A touch control board on the guitar is used to select pickups, split the pickup coils, and mix the pickups. LED lights indicate the activated signal. All guitar signals are analog and passive for high-end guitar signal output. The “unbreakable” bent-neck bamboo neck and fretboard is a remarkable achievement. No more broken headstocks! Plus, bamboo is plentiful and sustainable, while traditional hardwoods are now becoming endangered. Relish Guitar’s wide and long tone is created through an innovative sandwich construction, combining aluminum and wood in a body that maximizes string vibration, sustain, and harmonic overtones. This results in a unique new sound experience with high-end output signals as an electric and/or acoustic guitar.
While the guitar community may be notoriously conservative in their ideas of the perfect guitar construction, Relish Guitars is on a mission of its own to prove that modern technology can be seamlessly integrated into a visually and audibly pleasing instrument, highlighting versatility and utility for any demanding player.
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