The idea for the Noah Hardshell Guitar took
shape in 1993, when the architect Renato
Ruatti rose to the dream of his friend, the musician Giovanni Melis, to create an innovative electric guitar. An
instrument that captures the legacy of the ‘architypes’: the National Style
"O" and the Fender Telecaster. Then along came Mauro Moia in 1995, chief engineer of the ex Aermacchi, who has
always worked with aluminium; with him the team could experiment with his
knowledge and the use of CNC technologies to mill out the body from the metal slab.
The excavation of the body of the instrument from a single block of aluminium alloy is the innovative technological aspect that characterizes the production of NOAHguitARS, from the first versions on. The assembly, the bridges, the knobs and the finishes are all totally handmade: the craft then evolves and is magnified by combining high technology with excellent craftsmenship.
1. GUITARS EXCHANGE: How did you become, or start out, as a luthier?
Renato Ruatti: We are an organization that has always employed the practice of "convergency" (Convergency is an approach to knowledge integration that cuts across disciplinary boundaries. It integrates knowledge, tools and ways of thinking; merges diverse areas of knowledge and expertise in a network of partnerships; stimulates innovation from basic discovery to translational application. NOÈ, Convergency, Milan design week 2015): the making of each and every instrument involves competences that come from very different professional experiences. It all started in the mid-90s as a professional excerise born of a friend’s wish: to cross the metalic body of the National, its acoustic and aesthetic potential, with the unconfusable tone of the Telecaster, together with its clean and essential design. In 1996 the first instrument was created, the Ammiraglia: and a few days later it was on stage in a concert by Primo Maggio in Rome, in the hands of Marco Colombo, at that time the guitarist and coauthor, along with Gianna Nannini. Since then, without leaving our original professions, we have continued to develop the method of construction by using the same approach.
2. G.E.: What inspires you when you design and manufacture a new guitar?
R.R.: Behind each instrument there is a story to tell. What characterizes our project is the studio and the reinterpretation of the models of ‘traditional reference’. By its nature, NOAHguitARS starts from "no-design”: from an existing construction, like the Telecaster, and this is followed by a process of elimination of unnecessary details; in a constant search for essence that led us to define the Noah Delgado guitar. With the same approach the Noah Lap Steel was born this year, whose model of reference is an acoustic instrument designed in the 40s by the Módena luthier, Masetti.
Therefore, each personalized construction brings with it a predefined form, but is in constant evolution within that. Mechanics, electronics, finishes and any personal touches are always chosen and designed to adapt themselves to the musician.
Furthermore, through "convergence" with great Italian designers, some unique pieces have been born, like the NO-NO Bass designed by Fabio Novembre for Saturnino Celani, and other lines that include tools, like the Paraffina model designed by Lorenzo Palmeri.
3. G.E.: Are you looking for a particular sound?
R.R.: While our work is based on traditional configurations, the sound is influenced by the intrinsic properties of the aluminium and by the fact that the bodies are completely wired. In fact, we are searching for cleanness and fullness of voice through continuous improvements in techniques in the manufacturing phases and body finishes. This is the starting point, then each musician brings their own experiences and needs: they complete the ‘recipe’ for their instrument.
4. G.E.: Choose one and speak about it: soul, jazz, blues, rock, pop... or another.
R.R.: At one point at the start, the guitar was defined “with a sustain as a piano", and then later someone said: "This is a tool to write”. We have seen our instruments really appreciated in the recording studio, in the experience of live music: we can’t limit ourselves to one genre.
5. G.E.: Are you an artist that works to order or a solitary craftsmen?
R.R.: We are born as solitary craftsmen, perhaps even a little clandestine. But it is stimulating for us to work as artists on commission, depending on the ‘prince’.
6. G.E.: What was the last album or CD that you bought and listened to?
R.R.: Call It What It Is by Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals is the last album that we bought. On Saturday, working in the workshop, we listened to American Dream, LCD Soundsystem’s latest album.
7. G.E.: Electric or acoustic?
R.R.: Electric. However, a particularity of our instruments is that, although they are inspired in traditionally ‘solid body’ specimens, the wires are all inside, and they also have acoustic properties.
8. G.E.: What is the secret behind your choice of wood?
R.R.: Given our field of research and action, we probably have more interesting secrets about the aluminium and the meeting points between the different materials. For genealogical reasons, a special curiosity for the ‘world of essence’, favours the choice of wood.
...AND TWO HANDS...
9. G.E.: Why should we consider the handmade guitars a viable option in comparison to guitars made by the big manufacturers?
R.R.: “Of course for the masses there will always be mass production and after all the original Fenders were certainly that. The trick is if all it took was the best components and materials any good luthier could do this construction. However there is room for magic here and no one can know from whence that comes. It’s odd what makes a ‘great’ guitar”. (Lou Reed | D.de Blasio, Three questions for Lou Reed | Abitare 479 02 2008). We could not have found anything better as a response.
10. G.E.: Who plays your guitars? Who would you like to play your guitars?
R.R.: NOAHguitARS have had the privilige to grow thanks to direct and open interaction with the knowledge and experience of great musicians like, among others, Marco Colombo, Saturnino Celani, Stefano Cerri, Ben Harper, Richard Honors and Lou Reed. Without mentioning them all, the musicians that have been playing our instruments on the stage for years include Yuval Avital, Pasquale De Fina, Davide Ferrario, Horacio Grillo, Giorgio Mastrocola, Fabio Testoni, Chris Wolstenholme. Among the youngst we can mention Federico Paciotti and Cosimo Ravenni. Independently of the level of notoriety, it is always a pleasure to get to know new people and pay special attention to all the musicians who knock at our door. We can always grow together.
+1. G.E.: What strings do you use on your guitars and what amplifiers do you like most?
R.R.: Noah instruments are born with Galli Strings. As we make many custom instruments, we also use D’Addario and IQS Strings. Regarding amplifiers, we introduce our guitars with MESA Boogie Recto-Verb Twenty Five, while for our basses we use Aguilar amplifiers (especialy the Aguilar SC AG 500 Bass Amp Head).
Noah Guitars Official Website: https://www.noahguitars.com/