We were all most impressed with the Gibson Player Port, the shoulder mounted soundhole found on its Generation Collection, but there is always room for even more radical approaches to acoustic guitar design, as Todd Cambio of Fraulini Guitar Company has proven with his one-of-a-kind Black Hole.
Fraulini specialises in things like this, handmade acoustic instruments redolent of old world charm, but this is a change of pace, as it features a humungous soundhole carved into the lower bout of a very fat jumbo design. Really, it is huge. Looking it that body depth, you’d need arms like Mr Tickle to fully bring this under control.
But Josh Smith makes it look easy. Backstage at Joe Bonamassa’s show in Madison, Wisconsin, Smith put this custom acoustic through its paces, demonstrating a sweet honeyed tone. We are surely not getting the full effect via a camera phone’s mic and the medium of Instagram, but there was no shortage of sparkle.
You can check it out on Smith’s Instagram page.
But the best was yet to come. Smith repeated the demo, this time making full use of the soundhole’s expansive dimensions for Bonamassa’s benefit.
The Black Hole is described by Smith as “an insane, one-off concept guitar” and so is not listed on the Fraulini website, but after noting that you could call yourself L.R. Baggs and stick your head inside that soundhole to hear for yourself, Smith demonstrated this unique feature, by sticking Bonamassa’s head in the guitar and giving him the best seat in the house with some fingerstyle jazz.
Impractical for all but the most intimate of shows? Maybe. But Bonamassa was nonetheless impressed by the immersive potential of the Black Hole.
“Very enjoyable day in Madison,” he wrote on Instagram . “Not everyday do I get to play a sold out show, one of the rarest Stratocaster guitars in the world and stick my head into an acoustic guitar all in the same day! Thank you!”
The Strat in question was a bona-fide unicorn, a 1957 Fender Stratocaster in Taos Turquoise, a custom colour refinish that had been sprayed over a Desert Sand undercoat.
This is a just one of many of holy grail guitars in the Dave Rogers Collection, housed at the Dave’s Guitar Shop flagship store in La Crosse, Wisconsin. It’s part of the Rogers' personal collection and not for sale, and it shares space with a cornucopia of Strats and Telecasters. There is a 1971 Rosewood Tele, a ’79 Strat in Antigua Burst, and over 20 Strats from the ‘60s alone. Head over to Dave’s Guitar Shop to view them and their specs.
Bonamassa recently announced a new live album, Tales Of Time, which will be out on 14 April through J&R Adventures. The video for the album's first single, Mind's Eye, was released last week, and you can watch the video above. He is currently on tour across the US, playing in Peoria, IL, tomorrow night (22 February). See Joe Bonamassa for full dates.