Shaffer on the Koll Multiscale Archtop

A while back, Al Shaffer purchased the Koll extended range guitar featured in Koll Guitars Multi-Scale Archtop and promised to share his experiences with the instrument.

And so, here is Al Shaffer describing a recording session with his jazz group “The Three Halos” and a restaurant’s “guitar night” with a local jazz musician playing the Koll.

Koll Extended Range Guitar

The Three Halos Recording Session

The trio is “The Three Halos” and I focus mainly on an NS Designs WAV4 Electric Upright Bass and sometimes a Steinberger XM fretless bass guitar. My guitarist wanted to check the Koll out so I brought it for him to play. We actually never got around to using it through the afternoon.

At the end of the session we decided to record an improvisation with myself on the Koll and the guitarist on his chambered swamp ash Klein along with our drummer. I played it directly through my Hartke HA2500 amp and HCX 115 cabinet, no effects at all. I didn’t think it would sound very good through the bass rig, but was surprised how well the seven string worked with a bass amp. I have a set of heavy flatwound strings on the Koll and was able to think both as a guitarist and a bass player with the combination.

This was really the first time I played it at any volume or with any other musicians. I felt very good playing in this environment and the multi-scale fretboard was never an issue. I had been having trouble with the seventh string when playing the guitar at home, but that disappeared in this situation. I think that the single coil pickup had a very unique sound and covered the range of the guitar beautifully.

If you will note in the video (seen below), I do not always have the guitar in its proper position as I am seated and I found that to be a bit uncomfortable. My Kleins always seem to sit correctly when I am seated.

From the session, here are Al Shaffer on the Koll, Joel Knispel on guitar and Marshall Hughey on drums:

Guitar Night

The other outing with the Koll was taking it to a “guitar night” at a restaurant hosted by a very good local jazz guitarist, who is also a Benedetto dealer. I had called him up and asked him if he would be
interested in trying out a seven string headless guitar and he was up for it. He did look rather oddly at it when I took it out, but did not seem put off. He played it for the entire first set of mostly jazz standards. He was playing through an AER Compact 60/2 (which sounded great!).

His remarks afterwards were that he had a bit of trouble with the seventh string and that he stuck mainly to the 5th to 9th fret positions because he had some worry with finger position at the more “fanned” higher areas of the fretboard. I do believe that given more time he would have been completely comfortable with the fretboard. All in all I think he enjoyed the experience and was definitely interested in Saul Koll’s work.

Upcoming Canton Electric Guitar

Al also noted that guitar builder Rick Canton is making him an ergonomic electric guitar with a similar multi-scale fretboard.

Rick is hard at work on several models so expect to hear more.

Many thanks to Al Shaffer for feedback on this truly unique instrument by Saul Koll.

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10 Responses to “Shaffer on the Koll Multiscale Archtop”

  1. […] Go to the author’s original blog: Shaffer on the Koll Multiscale Archtop […]

  2. Nothing wrong with free collective improv, but sure would like to hear the guitar in a more traditional, isolated setting.

    1. I’ll second that! What do you think Al?

      1. I agree with both of you and will see what I can do to get something on our YouTube page.

      2. Here’s a little clip of the Koll straight into the board and out the monitors:
        Al Shaffer Demos the Koll RE7/F Guitar

      3. I didn’t want your demo to get lost in the comments section so I’ve posted it as an article on the site and changed the link to reflect this.

        Thanks so much for the latest video!

  3. I really like Al`s band, very beyond the edge improv , I`m glad to see it on this site. Not only are there numerous cutting edge instruments here, this music lends itself to that style of creativity very well. Not disagreeing with Roger or Robert or the video…
    Rick

  4. I played in a trio like that a number of years back and it can be great… so no complaints there!

    It would be nice to hear the guitar with a good mic played acoustically, even simple music with nice chords so one can hear its tone. In fact simple is often best for demo’ing a guitar. It sure is nifty looking.

    Chris Forshage is building me an acoustic flattop and is “reclaiming” the space where Koll placed the tuners on this one by using an ABM tailpiece. So I’m curious about the volume and bass of this archtop.

  5. something more conventional would be nice … The guitar is BEAUTIFUL..and looks really comfortable rather than one of those more traditional “Fat Jazz Boxes”…Sure would like to hear it playing something less “cerebral”…

    1. It’s unusual stuff but I’m glad to feature it on the site. And thank goodness for outside thinkers. If it weren’t for folks like Al we wouldn’t have all these wonderful and unique instruments to enjoy.

      After all, when was the last time we saw a rocker (and my personal tastes lean toward rock and blues) playing anything but the standard Strat or Les Paul? When I look around, it’s the jazz guys who are really driving us toward innovative instruments. In the process, some of us get to expand our musical palettes. Sounds like a win-win to me.