Over the past few years, Florida-based English luthier Cynosure has built quite a reputation for fantastical instruments, from his reimagining of Motörhead's War-Pig logo as a bass to a demonic ram’s head guitar. This year, he’s outdone himself once again with six-strings inspired by Alice In Wonderland and heavy metal legends Saxon.
Head on through the gallery for a closer look at the unbelievable details that make up each of the guitars, with commentary from Cynosure himself, as he undertook two of the most difficult builds of his career…
The guitars will once more be showcased at the UK’s Bloodstock Festival, which takes place on 10-13 August, and features headliners Amon Amarth, Ghost and Megadeth.
Cynosure's creations are a key part of Bloodstock's purpose-built RAM Gallery on site each year. The gallery is the brainchild of festival founder and renowned fantasy artist Paul Raymond Gregory, and was created to highlight the relationship between art and music.
Weekend tickets are sold out, but day tickets are still available from Bloodstock Festival.
“The Cynosure Guitars Wonderland model takes you on a whimsical journey through the eyes of its eponymous character. Visually telling the story of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland through its features, the guitar is a landscape of imagination and symbolises the evolution of time.
“Essentially, this guitar certainly has the most depth (in thought) of any instrument that I have ever created. The original idea stemmed from [Bloodstock founder] Paul Gregory about a year-and-a-half ago, though I only started working with the wood around six months ago…it had taken me over a year to completely fathom out all of the details and meticulous suggestive features!
“For research purposes, I must have read the book about four times trying to grasp not only the audacious and extraordinary characters, but to visualise the perilous undertaking Alice had to endure after falling down a rabbithole.
“After settling on a firm design, I chose Padauk wood, a deep red-coloured African wood, known for its medium/hard density and excellent resonant properties with maple, a white-ish medium/hard wood used ubiquitously in guitar-making.
“Within the body, two layers of Padauk adjoin with a layer of Maple, resembling a reverse ‘jam sandwich’. Also, used within the neck, the Padauk and maple form a checkered pattern, creating a highly visual (and painstakingly difficult to achieve) first impression.
“The front and back plates are composed of pressed rose petals, (deep purple-red, red, and variegated white-red) add dimension and depth, whilst hinting to the well-repeated Wonderland phrase ‘painting the roses red’.
“10 shillings and sixpence adorn the guitar’s perimeter, and a real pocketwatch can be seen in the middle of a hand-carved spiral, outlined in white-cream binding.
“The control knobs are toadstools or mushrooms, with gold hardware and perhaps my favourite addition, a white LED killswitch. The fretboard, made from African wenge, includes hand-cut bone inlays in the shapes of playing card suits. The pickups are cream Seymour Duncan P-90s.
“The back of the guitar features a door that can only be opened with a golden key that serves as the truss rod cover. When opened, the door allows access into ‘Wonderland’, but also allows for the strings to be changed without removing the pressed-rose petalled backplate.
“This ambitious project did not come without its problems. Initially, my rose-petalled front and back plates were encased in resin… fine, until the rose petals didn't bond well and decided to lift up. That meant more layers of resin.
“Ultimately, the plates got ridiculously thick and unusable. Too bad it took me another week to re-cut the plates, glue the petals on (hundreds… or so it seemed) and figure out another way to protect the petals… the answer: perspex acrylic sheets.”
"This guitar, themed after Saxon’s dual-battleaxe logo evokes a war-torn Viking-esque shield, straight from the battlegrounds. It juxtaposes the mythology and history of the Viking Empire, with a raw British heavy metal attitude."
"With sword-marked surrounds, the guitar is indelibly ‘v-carved’ with Anglo-Saxon runes, both accompanying the body’s perimeter, and also the back of the neck; spelling the words SAXON (neck) and BRITISH HEAVY METAL (perimeter) in the ancient alphabet.
“Comprising strips of black walnut, both body and neck, the Saxon guitar is as resilient and strong physically as its outward appearance."
"Custom-made control knobs are highlighted by the surrounding textured-steel plates (a signature of Cynosure Guitars) that insinuate and embellish the dual-battleaxe design.
"Also featured are an inlayed steel Cynosure Guitars logo and the ever-present Saxon eagle, cut and fashioned from bone. This inlay stands out as a prominent reminder of strength and spirituality, as in Roman, Greek, Germanic and Norse cultures, the eagle was considered ‘king of the skies’ and the messenger to the gods."
"The Saxon guitar also includes a custom-made laminated bone/ebony/maple nut aiding in almost perfect straight string pull. The wenge fretboard features inlays of cut aluminium tubes in an 'S' formation.
"The pickups were custom made by Instrumental Pickups, incorporating jagged, distressed and scarred pickup covers…these absolutely sing!"
"The back, carved with the Saxon band logo and a metal plaque inlayed, with a popular Saxon song excerpt engraved, ‘Denim and leather brought us all together’."