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What are Modular Guitars?

Modular guitars

The Somnium Modular guitar allows you to switch pick-ups and body shape instantly.

The trouble with buying a guitar is that you have to make a compromise.  Whether it is the pick-up configuration, body shape, bridge type there is often going to be something that you have to compromise on.  After all that is why most of us have more than one guitar.  Well at least that is our excuse if anyone asks.  However, with the advent of modular guitars could this compromise be a thing of the past.  But, the first question to answer is…

What are modular guitars?

Imagine owning a guitar where you can change the body shape, pickup configuration or neck to anything you want.  That is the idea behind modular guitars.  A modular guitar is built from different units which are fully interchangeable.  For example the guitar luthier can build a pick up block, where the pickups are housed.  A pickup block can then be fitted with different pickup combinations which can be easily switched out.  You can see that this enables you to have one guitar and switch between different pickup combinations.  Modular guitar makers have experimented with guitar bodies, neck as well as pick up and hardware configurations.




What are the benefits of modular guitars?

Well if you buy a modular guitar with options for pickups, neck, hardware and body shape then you have an amazing variety of combinations that you can experiment with.  This gives you the ability to switch from one sound, shape or musical style but only have to own one guitar.

Where can I get a modular guitar?

Modular guitars are not particularly mainstream and there are only a handful of companies that produce modular guitars of any shape or form.  Below is a list of a few of the main modular guitar manufacturers.

Modular Electric Guitars

Mark Hendrickson is a luthier and inventor of the Modular Electric Guitar (MEG) and the Modular Acoustic Guitar.

The idea for a Modular Electric Guitar came when Mark was working as a speech pathologist with a young man who spent most of his waking day in a wheelchair. The young man was interested in playing the guitar and wanted to try one of Mark’s custom guitars. The shape of a typical guitar didn’t allow for flexibility for this young man to play in his wheelchair.




Mark created a new design—one that allowed the neck and the body of the guitar to be interchangeable—a guitar design that would fit perfectly and enable the young man to play this instrument while sitting in his wheelchair—the MEG.

You can see how easy it easy to change the neck of the MEG in the video below.

You can find out more details about the MEG range at megguitars.com.

Somnium Guitars originally designed their guitars with the unique ability to swap out the guitar pickups.  The idea was to allow a guitarist to switch pickups instantly with no re-wiring or soldering work required.  Tis could be done without unplugging your guitar so in theory could be done live in the middle of a gig if this was required.

From there Somnium have gone one step further and patented a fully modular guitar, allowing you to change out body shapes as well as pickups, change from a hard-tail to tremolo, all without having to buy another guitar. Their patent-pending aluminum core and pickup cartridges makes this level of interchangeability possible, and it is all manufactured from scratch in the USA.

Below is a video showing the Somnium pickup switching system.

And check out the great video below from Justin Johnson showing the fully modular Somnium Guitar.

For more details check out the Somnium Guitars website.




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