On Guitars by Christoph Noe Interview
NAME: Christoph Noe
NICK NAME : Nö
LIVING IN : Munich, Germany
TRAINING & BACKGROUND: I studied graphic design and taught myself to build guitars
PLAYING: Electric Bass and sometimes Guitar, Drums and Modular Synthesizer
NAME OF YOUR HIGH SCHOOL BAND : Metal Socks (such an embarrassing name :D)
LUTHIER YOU ADMIRE THE MOST: Robert Benedetto
INSTRUMENT YOU DREAM TO HAVE ONE DAY: Neumann U 67
LAST ALBUM YOU BOUGHT: Popp – Devi
LAST MUSIC SONG YOU PUT IN YOUR CAR: Tame Impala – Lucidity
LAST SHOW YOU WENT TO : Hermanos Gutièrrez
MOST IMPRESSIVE INSTRUMENT YOU EVER HAD IN HAND: Schorr Guitars – The Owl The Owl
MOST STRANGE RESTORATION OR REPAIR YOU HAD TO DO : A Yamaha Pacifica modification – could now be the most valuable Pacifica in the world 😀
Most new designs emerge from close exchanges of ideas with musicians.
I’m a good listener and at some point the insights I gain turn into a new musical instrument. I always start the design process with paper and pencil to quickly visualize what I have in mind and to avoid getting lost in details right away.
All my instruments follow the On Guitars design philosophy: Colorful Sounds, Delightfull To Play.
My electric guitar model FINK is my version of an offset-inspired Tele with a slightly smaller body that feels more comfortable for players of smaller stature.
My best seller is a combination of a Charlie Chrtistian and a Tele pickup in a 4-way circuit where both pickups can be connected in series. All four positions result in a wide spectrum of characterful and non-compromising sounds.
My 31.1″ short scale PITPIT bass model can be ordered with two single coil or two humbucker pickups.
My PITPIT bass model with 31.1″ short scale can be ordered with two single-coil or two humbucker pickups. All pickup designs are derived from that of the 51 Precision Bass, but with the wide variety of switching options, my bass delivers so much more tonal colors – from thick humbucker growl to unique out-of-phase single-coil weirdness.
On an electric guitar or bass, the pickups and their position have the greatest influence. String vibration is a complex motion, and depending on where the pickup is positioned, a different spectrum of harmonics is captured.
That’s not to say that wood selection doesn’t have an impact, but from my perspective, it’s more a matter of ergonomics and functionality.
We all have a responsibility to preserve the diversity of nature. Therefore, one should be more interested in whether a particular species of wood does not contribute to the destruction of endangered habitats and is ideally harvested locally than in its impact on the tone of an electric guitar.
It is important that the buyer has an idea of what timbres they want to explore and what attitude they want to express with the instrument. Try to describe the personality of the guitar as if it were a person. For me, this is a perfect starting point for putting together the right parts to create a perfectly fitting instrument.
Many customers discover my work online, but most want to try my instruments before they buy them.
This can be at a guitar show or in my guitar store in Munich. When trying out my store demo guitars, we determine the basic specifications, such as model, woods, pickup configuration and wiring options, scale length, neck profile, bridge, etc.
My advice to my clients is to focus not only on the sound, but also on the feel of the different instruments by pointing out aspects where the demo guitars differ, such as string spacing, neck profile, fretboard radius, and the feel of different finishes on the neck and body, etc.
I explain the advantages and disadvantages of the different solutions to assist in making a decision.
For example, the better repairability of an oil finish versus the better protection from moisture and dirt of a PU finish. These are things customers often don’t think about, but can become important over years of use.
To make the final decision on colors, I often create a 3D rendering of the instrument with different color and material options. After I have all the details finalized, I start ordering parts and materials.
My lead times are currently about 5 months.
Two band members of the famous German rap/pop artist Cro own and play my FINK guitar model and my PITPIT bass model.
These two super nice guys and outstanding musicians are Florian König and Tim Schwerdter.
You only have to look at the amazing work of luthiers like Nicolai Schorr, Robin Stummvoll (Verso Instruments) or Ulrich Teuffel to know that Germany has some of the most advanced guitar builders in the world.
Compared to these guys, my guitar designs could be considered conservative, but I feel very connected to their spirit, which is trying to push the boundaries and not just copy the past.
From time to time I sell instruments in my webshop on on-guitars.com and reverb.com, which I simply make according to my own ideas.
This year I visited the Montreux International Guitar show and also the Guitar Summit in Mannheim. Unfortunately that was my last show for this year.
So the next opportunity to experience my guitars will probably be at the Montreux International Guitar Show in May 2023.
For those who don’t want to wait that long, I highly recommend a trip to Munich. Besides the exciting experience of visiting me in my workshop and trying out great instruments while enjoying a delicious cup of drip coffee, there are so many beautiful things to discover in Munich.
You will like it, I am sure !
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