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A Carbon Fiber Guitar Packs Big Sound in a Little Body

Carbon fiber makes the Blackbird Rider one of the lightest guitars in the world — and, pound for pound, perhaps the loudest.

A Carbon Fiber Guitar Packs Big Sound in a Little Body

The Blackbird Rider might be the dorkiest-looking travel guitar around — that rectangular shape is more ye old minstrel show than rock ‘n’ roll — but the Rider is cleverly designed to squeeze maximum sound out of a tiny body.

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Built out of carbon fiber, the manufacturer, SF-based Blackbird Guitars, claims that at 3 pounds, the Rider is one of the lightest guitars in the world. Contrast that to your average Fender Stratocaster, which weighs more than twice that.

Travel guitars, for those of you who don’t subscribe to Guitar World, are smaller than full-scale guitars, so they’re great for folks who move around a lot (all musicians, right?). That said, no serious musician worth his MySpace page would be caught dead jamming on one because the sound is, well, small.

The designers of the Blackbird Rider solved that problem by a.) extending the shoulder to the 10th fret, which increases the overall volume of the sound box; b.) carving an asymmetrical hole in the body that hole works like an amplifier, boosting the effective size of the sound board; and c.) having a body made of continuous sheets of carbon fiber, rather than separate pieces of wood whose joints absorb sound vibrations (and sap volume).

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As for the carbon fiber body: It’s perfect for traveling, and not just because it’s lightweight. Carbon fiber is the Achilles of product design — strong, lean, and virtually indestructible. So the Rider won’t warp if you leave it in a hot or cold room for too long (a problem with a lot of guitars) nor will it break if you drop it — bad news for these guys, but great news for anyone who actually coughs up the dough for this thing. At $1,600 a pop (starting!), it had better be able to survive Armageddon.

[Images courtesy of Blackbird; hat tip to Daily Icon]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.

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