GRETSCH ASTRO JET
The Astro Jet model was built from 1964 or `65 -1967.
As ugly as it is, it had to flop and after production had stopped some bodies must have been left over in the Gretsch factory for years and years and years...
Gretsch was moved, Gretsch was closed, Gretsch was reestablished somewhere else. Gretsch moved to Japan, Gretsch was sold again etc...etc... but at least four ugly unfinished Gretsch guitar bodies survived. Three came to Leverkusen, Germany where I found them, the fourth came from the USA...
Have you ever bougth a guitar out of pity?
I have. These ugly, ugly bodies were meant to be nice guitars and never made it. Some guy designed them wanting only the best for them but since he was blind or retarded (or both) it didn`t work... They should have been Gretsch`s proud answer to the Gibson SG and failed so terribly, they had to be patient for over 40 years to reach their destination...
(Maybe not unlike myself)
Enter heroic Guitarfritz, the avenging Robin Wood-Picker of all widows, orphans and crippled guitar bodies!
When I saw these bodies I knew that it was very, very well seasoned tone wood, probably even the highly sought after honduras mahogany! I saw that the slabs were bigger than the average electric guitar body and concluded that by cutting off or sanding away some parts I might still have enough wood left to improve the body shape dramatically ...
So I made an effort to get that odd original body shape into my computer and started...
RE-DESIGNING THE GRETSCH ASTRO JET
THE AXIS OF EVIL
I tried to find an explanation why this design is so ugly and thus "analyzed" what I got here.
Beauty often has a lot in common with simplicity. And a very easy trick to find simplicity can be the use of symmetry. That`s why I tried to find the important axes connecting the widest and narrowest spots and see what they have in common...
You can see that 4 out of these 5 "axes of evil" don`t correspond in any way to each other. They seem to interact only randomly. There is no system, no order, no general idea behind the design (except maybe some kind of a doubtful mislead pseudo-artistic intuition)
I proceeded to check all important axes...
LESS IS MORE
I like "offset" guitars a lot, especially the first one, the Jazzmaster. But I think it is much more difficult to design a good looking offset shape than a more symetrical one.
But the ergonomic requirements of an electric guitar seem to demand and favor offset shapes a little bit. I think the greatest designs are the ones that manage to meet these requirements and still lead to belive that you see an almost symmetrical shape. The Strat, of course, is such a masterpiece of design and maybe even more so the Gibson SG does exactly that. The upper cutaway is larger and deeper than the lower one and the upper horn is a bit pointier ...but it still looks pretty symmetrical and balanced although the design is aggressive and dynamic at the same time, too.
There is a fascination coming from that contrast that the shape is both, aggressive and full of tension and almost symmetrical and harmonic at the same time just exactly to an extent that is perfect.
Not too wild and not too boring.
The SG even looks better with that little twist away from total symmetry than it would if it were totally symmetrical.
What an amazing design!
The lower part of the SG body is symmetrical and that way meets our urge to understand easily what we see. It brings back the sense of order that we like. That`s why the Gibson SG still looks much better than it`s ESP clone which has much more "offset"-style.
Less asymmetry is more beauty.
This is something you can veryfy easily loking at people`s faces.
The first 6 sketches of the forearm bevelling. Number 1 and 6 are not simple enough. Number 3 is too radical, 2 and 4 are a bit random. Number 5 corresponds exactly to the lower cutaway. It is the same curve just bigger and the other way around and I like it best so far.
So I`ll stick with that for a while and see how I can combine it with new versions of the upper horn...
4 upper horn variations combined with the numer 5 arm bevelling.
Everything turned around 90° since you have to look at a guitar design from all angles...
A is the original Astro Jet horn.
B is more aggressive, more SG-style.
D and C are more or less offset versions of the lower horn.
D looks too small, A and C look a bit too fat.
So B is my favourite so far.