The daydreaming guitar player in all of us has at one time or another considered what would go into our signature guitar – the shape, the color, the features. It’s a special experience when an artist looks beyond what is readily available and seeks to build something original instead. St. Vincent is an artist worthy of the name. From eclectically orchestrated music productions to uniquely stylized music videos, she needed a signature guitar worthy of her caliber and flair.
Creation of the St. Vincent
What does it take to make a signature guitar? What are the important ingredients? We learned through Ernie Ball that chemistry and communication are so critical with artist collaborations. It didn’t take them long to realize that there was a ton of chemistry and synergy between Annie Clarke (St. Vincent) and the team over at Ernie Ball Music Man. They gave Annie a factory tour and then sat down with Drew Montell (lead engineer) and Sterling Ball in their EBMM showroom. Ernie Ball handed Annie the keys to the factory and opened up their design team to begin the process of designing and building the STV guitar. She played different guitars and talked through her influences, ideas and sonic needs. The Ernie Ball team was not only elated by Annie’s command of the guitar as a player, but also by her eye for design, as her comments and observations about our existing instruments, they felt, were spot on.
When asked if Annie had any specific ideas she said, “Let me draw it for you.” Ernie Ball wasn’t expecting what she penciled down, but instantly loved it. It was completely different, and that excited them. She had terms for it like “Memphis,” but they saw disruptive and cool. They also felt at that moment that they were the company for her. They have no problem making things that are a little different.
Annie seemed happy that Ernie Ball didn’t try to convince her to play it safe or influence her concepts. Their job was making her two dimensional sketch into an ergonomically sound, balanced, well-playing guitar without sacrificing the integrity of her design.
In describing the main features of the STV guitar begins with an extremely well balanced shape. Comfortable drafts on the body, pick guard, and knobs allow for easy play and stunning aesthetics. The body wood of the STV is constructed of lightweight African mahogany. A tonewood known to produce rich, yet defined low-mid range tonality. An all rosewood neck and rosewood fretboard finished with a hand-rubbed special gunstock oil and wax blend along with custom St. Vincent face dots inlayed into the fingerboard give the STV a unique aesthetic as well as a silky luxurious feel to play.
The Custom mini-humbuckers have a sound similar to PAF humbuckers except with more clarity; masters of quiet clean and dirty tones without ever sounding muddy. The tonal configurations of the 3 mini-humbuckers are as unique as the styling of the guitar. Having the choice of selecting the individual pickups, the neck and bridge pickups in parallel, or all three in parallel, allows the player to achieve the most sought after classic tones as well as inspiring new ones.
EBMM proprietary tremolo bridge design with precise tuning stability and ergonomic functionality along with their original truss rod adjustment wheel requiring no specific tools or component removal to make neck adjustments allow for minimal yet essential setup adjustments to be made with ease.
When it’s all said and done, St. Vincent leaves us with a stylish and unique guitar that’s backed by the build concepts that guitar players have coveted by Ernie Ball for years. As time moves ever forward, guitar players will always be looking toward the new, the innovative, and the creative. This guitar will hold a special place as a touchstone for artistic design and unique possibilities.