Rolf Spuler, which I first became aware of through the unique guitar stylings of Jose Neto who has been one of Steve Winwood’s sidemen on his last few albums. Mr. Neto’s playing is incredibly fluid and melodic and is one of the musical features that initially attracted me to Mr. Winwood’s latest work. When I got the first of their collaborations I quickly looked to the booklet photos to see what instrument Mr. Neto was using to make those incredible sounds. My head almost exploded when I saw my first photos of this gorgeously designed guitar. My next move was to find out about this brilliant luthier who designed and built this masterpiece.
Mr Spuler is an engineer, artist and musician who combined these talents to come up with, what I consider to be, one of the most beautiful and innovative guitars – the Paradis. Based in Switzerland, Mr. Spuler’s aim was to design a player friendly acoustic-electric guitar that would stay true to it’s natural sound at any volume. The result is the Paradis.
Available in both steel or nylon string versions this guitar can play at incredibly high volume and remain natural sounding without feeding back. The Piezo pickup system is Mr. Spuler’s original design and features a hexaphonic arrangement where each string can be individually tuned to sound perfectly balanced, dynamic and open. In stereo operating mode the strings can be separately assigned to either left or right channels. Also single string channels are ideal for midi systems and modern multi-channel sound modeling. Another innovative feature is Mr. Spuler’s use of polybass which generates a resonance below the fundamental frequency of the strings. This phenomena is partly responsible for the extra warmth provided by truly fine acoustic guitars. The is accomplished by passing the signal through a tuned circuit that detects the fundamental and generates a lower octave which is mixed back in a user controlled amount which produces an extra warmth in the bass range (lower 4 strings). Phase interference is eliminated by a patented “priority mode” circuit that continuously analyzes which strings are plucked giving priority to the lowest octave. The resulting sound is a fairly subtle fattening and enhancement of the bass notes. Another innovative feature is it’s ability to interface with Firewire software using a bus cable. Firewire allows for direct connection to various sound programs and recording software, individual pitch transposing per individual string, poly distortion and triggering programs for accurate score writing.
The less technical aspects of the Paradis include a solid flamed Maple, hand carved body, Brazilian Rosewood neck and fretboard (not available from Spuler at this time) magnetically attached flamed Maple headstock covers and tailpiece mounted control. Oh, by the way, it weighs a mere 5 lbs. 9 oz. (see photos below)
Other Paradis players include: Al DiMeola, Andreas Wollenweider and Bela Fleck.