Vintage Guitar - October 2017 - open - 96

Roth with his '75 Strat circa 1979, just after he'd left the Scorpions and
formed Electric Sun. The Strat (right) now has a heavy-duty vibrato
arm made by former Scorpions bassist Francis Buchholz.

we didn't get it together, so I never thought
it fit our live set. In the early 2000s, I did an
orchestral version, then later I started integrating it in various guises. It went through
some metamorphosis along the way, but the
theme always remained even if the arrangement changed.
What was it about the '70s and classic
live albums?

I think it's to do with what I call "The Law
of the Octave." At the beginning of any new
development, a lot of the most important and
interesting things happen in the first half of
that octave, quickly and in abundance. The
second part is like a journey through time,
where the results become a bit more perfect,
more smooth, but maybe not as exciting or
novel. Usually, the invention takes place at
the beginning. When you look at how rock
and roll developed in the '50s, you first had a
mixture of blues and certain rhythms - Chuck
Berry, you name it. Then, in the '60s, you had
that groundwork as other influences came
into it. The '60s were a very interesting time
for music, with most of the important action
happening with artists like the Beatles and
several others. At the second half of the '60s,
you had Hendrix and Cream pushing into a
new era, creating the groundwork for the rock
bands that followed. Then, bands like Led
Zeppelin and Deep Purple created a bridge
while the bands that came later were basically
spin-offs. I think the Scorpions were one of the
groups in the early '70s that were part of what

helped create a genre - new sounds and
new ways of looking at it all. The '80s
became more smooth,
and recordings started
to sound the same.
In A merica, you
had corporate rock
where every band
had to have this
massive snare-drum
sound they thought
was emulating John
Bonham, and then
there were certain
vocal sounds and harmonies. Heavy metal
[was popular], but most
of the influential stuff
had already happened.
It wasn't as successful
in terms of sales, but
the influence came
from the '60s and
'70s.
What was the
origin of your
Sky guitars?

The idea came
to me at the end
of 1982 for the
simple reason that
I had played Strats for
years - mainly the white
one I still own that I used on

VINTAGE GUITAR

96

October 2017

four Scorpions albums and
three Electric Sun albums. That
guitar did it all for me, and I loved
it; the Strat is a perfect instrument
in its own way just like the Les
Paul is perfect in its own way.
But there were things I didn't
like, and in time I wanted to go
places the Strat couldn't. The
first was I wanted to play higher in
the range. Even in the early Scorpions,
if you listen closely to In Trance you'll
hear a couple spots where I play the top
Eb, which on the Strat was hard because
it had 21 frets, so its highest note was
technically a C #; for us, it was a C because
we were tuned a semi-tone down. So I
had to really bend the string to reach Eb.
So, I found Andreas Demetriou, a
very good guitar builder in Brighton,
England, and asked him to put two
extra frets on the Strat. He said, "No
problem" and I used those extra frets
on the Electric Sun albums. Andreas did
a brilliant job. But then he said, "Look,
I can build you any guitar you like."
I'll never forget that moment, because
something happened in my mind. I
suddenly started to question the whole
thing. I thought, "Why shouldn't I try
to come up with something that enables
me to do what I want?" And that's how
it started. I didn't want to lose what the
Strat had - the sound, the feel, the flair.
I wanted to build on its strength, but in
order to play extra notes, something had
to give. I also wanted a guitar that was
visually gratifying and nicely balanced - not symmetrically, but a
different way.
So, I sat down
and closed my
e ye s . T he n I
started drawing.
I went to Andreas
and said, "Can you
build this ? " And
that's how it started,
and I never played
another guitar. We
built five prototypes throughout
the '80s, including a sevenstring that preceded Steve
Vai's [Ibanez
Universe]. I
called mine
Mighty Wing
and it became
my main guitar
for 20 years until


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