Hands-on review: Gig Carved Guitars' Alien

(Brian Johnston | Posted 2011-11-19)

Hands-on review: Gig Carved Guitars' Alien

When a person thinks of customizing a guitar or bass, usually it has to do with the electronics, including the pickups or wiring. More extreme would be the actual replacement of the neck to achieve different Ďactioní or the body because of the tonal variations in woods. In regard to appearance this may mean quality tuning knobs, machine heads and paint job (and even body shape).

A less likely direction in guitar and bass customization is carved body work. What makes doing so such an exciting proposition is that you may very well like the tone of your guitar and its shape, but the personalization can be so extreme, unique and one-of-a-kind that I canít believe this is not a more pursued venture Ė particularly among guitar aficionados and professionals.

I was fairly new to the notion of a carved guitar, although that changed about a year ago. That is when I noticed some excellent work being showcased on YouTube. I knew I had to Ďget me oneí when I saw the unique artistic abilities of one Gig Goldstein. His Alice in Wonderland impressed me most, although all of his designs were captivating and brought to life his personality as an artist.

As Gig indicated in an interview for www.GuitarNoize.com (he spoke on the guitar he made for me, as per this review): ďI started carving 12 years ago, it started out as chainsaw carvings and progressed in to detailed wildlife carvings and my main subjects at that time were fresh water fish. A guitar player friend of mine asked me if Iíd be able to carve a solid body guitar and thatís how I got in to working on guitars. I have a small business carving for art galleries and clients that collect my carvings, the guitar thing is really just a sideline hobby I pursue but itís starting to become a larger part of what I do.

ďA detailed carving job can take between 40 to 50 hours to complete; the most difficult stage is in the design of the subject. I try to strive for a flow to the overall carving, and I also try to tell a story of some type. The alien guitar is roughly based on the art work of the artist H.R. Giger, and the idea I had was to interpret an alien life cycle. My biggest joy from completing a guitar is knowing the person receiving it appreciates it as a one of a kind piece of art that you can play.Ē

The Alien Guitar
I have been fascinated with the work of H.R. Giger since I was 14 (his creations were used regularly to accompany Sci-Fi articles in Penthouse, and thatís where I first saw it as a rambunctious lad), and his development of the Alien creature for the movies of the same name was nothing short of genius. It did not take long for me to select my subject matter.

Being slightly nervous in having Gig undertake this assignment, since I was unsure of the overall design (I delegated that responsibility to be his as I was not sure exactly what I wanted exactly), he did an excellent job with the concept.

However, beyond the picture attached, what I wanted to bring to light, something that photos donít do justice to, is the attention to detail. Every ridge, crevice, lump and bump is smooth or edged so well that there are no rough spots. You can tell Gig takes pride in his work as he transformed a basic Ibanez guitar into something stunning and beautiful.

As well, he choose the finishing carefully, using an acrylic-based paint that has real bronze dust in the mix. After a few coats, he lightly sprayed it with an acid, which corroded the finish, thus making it a tarnished black color. He then polished it with steel wool to remove the corrosion in the higher areas (to give contrast with the deeper recesses), followed by a lacquer finish and buffing. The bronze is the only paint on the guitar, but Gigís application created a deep and rich result of various shades.

Gig is both skilled and confident in his ability. If you donít have a specific design for him (something drafted in advance), he begins the production stages based on an idea you do have and regularly sends updates for your approval, from the basic drawing on the guitarís body to each phase of carving. I have another project idea for him, another one-of-a-kind that can only appreciate in value, and one that I know will be as impressive as the Alien Guitar... Iím looking forward to the process as this is going to look freaky in the psychedelic sense of the word!

For more information, search ĎGig Carved Guitarí on YouTube, or email Gig directly at spotson1fin@yahoo.com

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