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Pimp my axe: the carbon fibre guitar

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December 10, 2007

Blackbird's Rider carbon fibre acoustic guitar

Blackbird's Rider carbon fibre acoustic guitar

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December 11, 2007 Carbon fiber is somewhat of a wonder-material in the auto industry, where its light weight and excellent strength makes it an ideal choice for body panels and the like. The same properties theoretically make it a great material to build acoustic guitars from as well – and that's exactly what Blackbird have done. The Blackbird Rider uses the strength and resonance of carbon fiber to result in an acoustic guitar 30% smaller, tougher and much lighter than a wooden one, but with a comparably large sound and resonance. And while carbon fiber may not offer the tone and 'soul' of a beautiful piece of wood, the Rider will surely find a market among traveling musos who'll appreciate how hardy and portable it is.

While the Blackbird website praises the "full-bodied tone" of the carbon fibre Rider guitar, we're not so sure. Previous efforts like the Rainsong have left many guitarists convinced that nothing will surpass the character of a well-worked piece of wood. But the material offers certain advantages that has allowed Blackbird to build an unique instrument.

The strength and rigidity of carbon fiber has allowed for a hollow neck with no truss-rod, meaning that the neck can become an integral part of the acoustic chamber. This extra resonant area allows the Rider's smaller body to deliver similar resonance and projection to a normal guitar.

Furthermore, because carbon fiber can be moulded to any shape, the designers weren't forced to build a traditionally flat-backed guitar just to suit the properties of the material. And the whole guitar weighs just three pounds, despite being much tougher, more scratch-proof and waterproof than its wooden cousins.

Looks-wise, well, perhaps the nicest thing you can say is that the Rider is fairly techy and futuristic. Its modern-art lines and Darth Vader matt black finish don't exactly give it the rootsy cool of a nice wooden acoustic – but then, you wouldn't throw your Martin in the back of the pickup for a weekend's camping without an expensive case.

On the topic of money, the Blackbird Rider retails for around USD$1600 (plus an extra USD$140 if you want a pickup in it for amplification). So it's not the cheapest guitar on the rack, but there's definitely a market out there that will appreciate a guitar so light, so compact, so portable and virtually indestructible that still offers full-size resonance and projection.

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz loves motorcycles - at the age of two, he told his mother "don't want brother, want mogabike." It was the biker connection that first brought Loz to Gizmag, but since then he's covered everything from alternative energy and weapons to medicine, marital aids - and of course, motorcycles. Loz also produces a number of video pieces for Gizmag, including his beloved bike reviews. He frequently disappears for weeks at a time to go touring with his vocal band Suade.   All articles by Loz Blain
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