I’ve featured a couple of Dagmar Custom Guitars before, Gretchen and Eve both of which have the distinctive curvy retro style about them that makes them some of the most unique and instantly identifiable guitars in the world. Dagmar recently created this beautiful guitar pictured above called Perle which is quite a departure from their usual style with its black gloss and Alien-esque top horn so I contacted Pete Swanson for some more photos and info!
The creation of Perle was partially funded by a grant Pete Swanson received from the Ontario Art Council. Because of this endowment the successful creation of the worlds first, double teardrop shaped guitar body was possible. While unequivocally modern, this guitar’s tapered sound port shrouds evoke Art Deco styling cues; particularly the Streamline Moderne period of the late 1930s.
The guitar was built without F holes and instead relies on three side sound ports to breath. The accepted theory is these ports allow the longer bass waves to flow from the guitar with more ease. The upper grill is made of eight teeth that Swanson hand caste from strands of carbon fiber in a simple disposable pressure mould. The areas in between each tooth are wood which makes for a stealthy contrast. Perle’s signature teardrop shaped shrouds seamlessly flow from zero at the waste then gracefully flare as they approach her bottom. Their openings are connected with a fine hard line while the original rim’s curve slightly ducts into the teardrops’ openings, echoing Swanson’s love of automotive design. “The styling challenge was to mute all of these wild non traditional elements to achieve a minimal look that was still kindred and vibey. While drafting her out I pretended to be a designer in 1936 forecasting the future aesthetic and innovation of tomorrow’s guitar.” says Swanson. Another unique feature is the red binding around the sound plates. They are made from Kevlar strands which have a reflective property offering a glowing appearance.
During the earliest stages of the build, fellow artisan Mark Kett suggested collaborating. An established Toronto-based inlay artist and luthier perhaps best know for his work on the “Metheny-Manzer Signature 6″ project series of guitars, Mark Kett offered to inlay the guitar’s fretboard. The resulting gorgeous sterling silver inlay follows the Streamline Art Deco theme perfectly. Swanson says “When Mark first approached me at the 2010 Montreal Guitar Show asking if I was interested in doing a collaborative project for the sake of just creating something cool I was beyond flattered, excited and completely inspired. Mark’s inlay work is so technically perfect that it intimidates me! Who else can rout a perfect circle freehand!?!” Kett also is responsible for Perle’s magnetic truss rod cover and ebony tailpiece designs, two refinements, Swanson says, that have become Dagmar standards.
The top is salvaged old growth Sitka Spruce supplied by Maurice Roy. The rim wood and neck are made from cooked flame maple with a matching back plate of blond flame maple that was colour matched to the neck with a matching black burst on both. The rim’s interior is laminated with a carbon fiber Kevlar mix and four of the nine neck laminations are carbon fiber. Under the ebony 25” scale fretboard is a two way adjustable truss rod to dial in the desired relief. .The tuners are Waverlys sporting ebony buttons, a Charlie Christian pickup made by Lollar has been installed with Art Deco styled chickenhead knobs to control the volume and tone.
The guitar is officially being offered for sale at: $16,000.00 US.