Rural Missouri - February 2014 - (Page 20)

ME by Jason Jenkins jjenkins@ruralmissouri.coop en Wolfert has seen the reaction before. He sees it every time he puts one of his guitars in a musician's hands for the first time. First comes a look of discovery, curiosity and intrigue. It's as if Indiana Jones has just unearthed the Ark of the Covenant from the sands of Egypt. But then, skepticism sets in. What will be inside the shiny exterior? How will it play? While good looks often can be deceiving, you can't feign good sound. Once you plug into the amplifier, there St. are no excuses. "Either they sound good or they don't," says Ken, president of Metalin' Guitars in St. James. "You can't hide that. You can't make that up. And our guitars absolutely sound great." A machinist by trade, Ken and his team have turned their collective skills in manufacturing and design toward creating aluminum-bodied electric guitars that meet the needs of musicians in all genres. These are no gimmick. These are true guitars. For 19 years, Ken has operated Wolfert's Tool and Machine Co., a full-service tool, machine and fabrication shop. He's worked with companies in the automotive, aviation, computer and health-care industries - including Ford, Cessna, Boeing, Intel and Brewer Science - using the latest technology and advanced CNC machining to create products to the highest tolerances and specifications. When he approached Dave Bast, his plant manager and chief designer, with the idea of an aluminum guitar 20 in 2010, there was no company in mind. It was simply a "what if" proposition. "I had read an article that said that in the next 10 to 20 years, all the hardwoods for guitars would be pretty much depleted," Ken recalls. "That got me thinking. What are they going to make guitars out of? The first thing that came to me was aluminum because we work with it every day." Now, the idea of creating a metal electric guitar isn't a new one. In fact, the Rickenbacker Electro A-22, an electric lap steel guitar created in 1931, is believed to be the first electric guitar. Like Metalin's guitars, it also was made of aluminum. Others through the years also have manufactured metal instruments, but most have been considered novelties by the industry. "There are a couple welded guitars out there * made of sheeting, and James there are maybe two other machined guitars, but they haven't figured out how to reduce the weight," Dave says. Weight was an issue for Metalin's first prototype, too, which tipped the scales at more than 12 pounds. "We went back to the drawing board and started thinking more on the lines of aerospace," Dave says. "We were able to get the weight down and still keep our sound thanks to our closed-chamber pickup pockets." Each Metalin' guitar begins with a 25-pound billet of aluminum. It's placed inside a computer-controlled milling machine, which meticulously cuts out the guitar's shape, its pickup pockets and holes for knobs, leaving behind a body that only weighs 3 pounds. All the aluminum that's carved away is recycled, Ken adds, "making this probably about as 'green' of an instrument as you can get." An assembled guitar now comes in right around 6 to 7 pounds. "That's a tremendous savings when it's hanging on your neck and you're playing a show," says Dave, who, like famed luthier Leo Fender before him, doesn't know how to play. While Ken plays a little, he admits it's "only enough to irritate myself." To ensure that Metalin's guitars achieved the proper sound, he hired Jeremy Tessaro as the fledgling company's technical manager. Jeremy spent the previous seven years working as a warranty technician for other guitar manufacturers and has played the instrument for more than 20 years. As the newcomer to Metalin', Jeremy says he was impressed that Ken and Dave spent three years in research and development before ever going MU public. "The fact that it wasn't going to go out until the weight was right, the feel was right, the tone was right," he says. "That says a lot." He adds the guitar's three closedchamber pickup pockets are unique when compared to other traditionalstyle electric guitars. "We've opened up all the chambers and made the body section wider, so we're not limited as to what configuration of pickups we put in here," he says, explaining that the pickups are what deliver the vibration of the strings to the amplifier. "It gives us lots of tone options." Having such options makes the instrument versatile, allowing it to Metalin' Guitars president Ken Wolfert brought more than 25 years of machining experience WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - February 2014

Rural Missouri - February 2014
Contents
Comments
Columns
Ministering to motorists
A mid-winter read
Fighting more than fires
Outdoors
Out of the Way Eats
Metal & music
Honest Abe
Hearth and Home
The Missouri Dinosaur
Around Missouri
Marketplace
Neighbors
Just4Kids

Rural Missouri - February 2014

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