Zerberus Guitars Interview

24.10.2017 by Engin Altunlu

The Bbop team introduced you to Zerberus Guitars after we saw them at Guitar Summit in Mannheim. Now we spoke with owner Frank to dive deeper into these stone beauties.

So Frank, tell me where this idea comes from.

Holy moly – what a stupid idea! This is what I thought when a customer called me asking for a guitar made of real stone.
I thought, “who the hell needs a guitar that weighs 30 Kilograms?”, but during the discussion I realized that the customer knows quite a lot about modern stone technology.
He introduced me to a technology that allows cutting stone into thin slices of only 4 millimetres and applying a fiberglass net on Epoxy to stabilize the stone tile.
After a lot of discussion and engineering, I made the first guitar of Spektrolith in 2009 and patented that design. With a weight of 5,9 Kilograms, it was too heavy to be played comfortable over a longer time.

In the following years I constantly improved and optimized the design using lightweight mahogany and chambered bodies, and I was able to reduce the weight to 3.2 Kilograms. I also started working with more precious materials such as turquoise, amethyst, tiger´s eye, aventurine and onyx.

 Why do you use these precious stones?

I love quilted and figured wood for guitar tops and use that for my hand build custom guitars for sure.
But I wanted more sound and sustain with a unique look. So, I decided to use precious gemstones for my gorgonized guitars. Each one is a hand-built exclusive artwork that looks and sounds amazing.

How do you find the materials? Which countries and why?

Each material can only be found in specific areas of the earth. Amethyst, for example, can be found in many places on earth like Brazil, Uruguay, Namibia, Madagascar, Russia, Sri Lanka, Morocco, and even in Germany. The one that I use for my guitars mostly comes from Brazil.
Tiger´s rye is best found in South Africa.
I buy some of my stone material from an awesome company in Italy.

How do you choose the stones? Like trees? Do you pick one part of the stone and say, “oh this side is 1 million years old so it’s better!”?

A million or 100s of millions of years old... I don´t think that it makes a real difference in sound. With lumber, you must make sure that the material will not warp or twist over the years. But with stone, there is no risk. It also does not need to be “seasoned”; that allows me just to pick out the material that I visually like best.

How about the sound? When I tried it at Guitar Summit there was more sustain on the amethyst one for example. Does each stone sound different?

The stone top definitely adds some extra sustain and harmonic resonances. It is surely different from a standard guitar, in a good way. Each has very special properties, but I did not notice any difference in sustain between the specific types of stone. 

The resonance-frequency of stone is different to that of wood. The body and neck being made of wood still has the resonance frequency in range of the guitar´s tonal spectrum, but the stone top shifts the resonance frequency miles away from the tonal spectrum of a guitar. Even with their chambered bodies, the stone tops aren’t prone to feedback. Mounting the bridge directly on the stone top allows a very strong attack and continuous and even sustain.

And a note on “sustain”-ability: Often rare and exotic lumber is used for the tops of standard electric guitars, which have to be dyed and painted to give them nice colours and appeal. (see this article for more on this topic)

But there is no need to cut down exotic forests to make a beautiful top from stone. There is a whole universe of colours and structures waiting to become a top on a gorgonized guitar, and each is unique like a fingerprint.

And, stone is much more scratch and damage resistant than a wooden top.

Thanks Frank! Check out Zerberus Guitars for sale on Bbop.