Emerald Guitars Challenges Traditional Guitar Design

Emerald Guitars

The Bahamut Guitar designed for Wang Leehom helped resurrect Emeral Guitars.

If you are looking for a guitar which is a little bit different then Ireland based Emerald Guitars is worth a look.

I recently saw one of their harp guitars in action and I have to admit that I was totally blown away by the sound and quality of these amazing looking guitars.  With cutting edge design and the use of innovative raw materials Emerald Guitars are doing something a little bit different, which is totally in keeping with their Irish heritage.

The driving force behind Emerald Guitars is Alastair Hay who set up the company in 1999. However, the idea for his innovative guitars first took hold in 1994.  Hay had grown up in a family where his Father had his own engineering company that worked with fibre glass.  It wasn’t long before Hay was helping his Father in the workshop and immersing himself in the design and build process.  After he finished studying Polymer Engineering at the Athlone Institute of Technology Hay wound up working for Seebold Racing in St Louis, Missouri, USA. At Seebold he was involved in the building of Formula 1 racing boats from carbon fibre.  Carbon fibre is a lightweight but incredibly strong material which can be readily moulded into fine structures.  Hay saw the potential for using carbon fibre in the construction of guitars.

A few years later in 1998 Hay built his first carbon fibre acoustic guitar and, pleased with the results, formed Emerald Guitars in 1999. A period of research and development followed where Hay refined his skills and built a number of prototypes.  The potential for his carbon fibre guitars was clearly demonstrated when he designed the Ultra Zone guitar for Steve Vai.  The Ultra Zone guitar was based on Aaron Brown’s album cover illustration for Vai’s 1999 album the Ultra Zone and was the first working guitar to leave the Emerald Guitars factory.  The design for the Ultra Zone Guitar highlighted the qualities of carbon fibre as a material for constructing guitars.  The dynamic shape of the guitar would be difficult to recreate in wood.

Following the success of the Ultra Zone guitar the first range of Emerald Guitars the X10, X20 and X30 were launched in 2001. Following a successful NAMM exhibition in the January of 2003 and the use of an X10 by Mickey Joe Harte, the Irish entrant into the Eurvision Song Contest, sales of the Emerald Guitars acoustic range grew. However, disaster struck in 2007 when the unique fretboard design used in the Emerald Guitars became unavailable.  Faced with a major redesign of their guitars and a factory re-tool Emerald Guitars were forced to close, which looked as though it would bring to an end the Emerald Guitars story.

However, it would seem that you can’t keep an innovative guitar luthier down for too long. In 2008 Hay was commissioned to design and build a guitar for pop star Wang Leehom and the Bahamut guitar was born.  Inspired by building the Bahamut Hay decided to re-start Emerald Guitars and fully redevelop the range of guitars.  With the new X20 launched, and a number of exciting new instruments added to the range such as the Synergy Artisan Harp Guitar, Emerald Guitars appears to be creating a reputation which should see it become an established manufacturer of quality guitars.

Watch the amazing Synergy X7 harp guitar in action in the video below.

To find out more about Emerald Guitars visit their website.

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