A Greek sea-god, Proteus was the shape-changing son of Poseidon. He could assume many forms, thus the word "protean" - a derivative of his name - connotes versatility and adaptability, both of which are traits this instrument is all about. It's perfectly suitable for everything from straight-ahead fingerstyle jazz to progressive rock. Its natural wood look and contours, typical of my guitars, lend themselves nicely to those players who might prefer playing their music on something elegantly organic and unique.
This particular guitar is the first of its kind in my folio. The walnut and maple body is very thin and semi-hollow, making for an extremely light and responsive guitar. Theoretically, the body shape is a singlecutaway, but the offset waist, carved-away heel, and "thumb-cut" of the body at the neck make for an instrument that feels different than a typical singlecutaway guitar.
"The Proteus is one of the very best electric guitars I've ever played. Not only is the design beautiful and comfortable to play, the clarity of the sound brings out each note that I played like separate voices in a vocal quartet. The harmony comes out rich and united, yet each note has a great vocal quality to it. The guitar responded well to single-note playing as well as more contrapuntal solo jazz guitar work. I couldn't stop playing it and it made me want to keep making music. Truly, any instrument that can inspire creativity is special and this is definitely unique. Kudos to Jeffrey for putting so much love into his work."
- Az Samad -
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For your listening pleasure, here's an amazing piece by San Francisco Bay Area Guitarist/Performer/Teacher Az Samad from his recent graduate recital at San Jose State University, where he co-teaches guitar fundamentals. Az is also a member of the faculty at Berklee College of Music for their summer guitar program. This is a live recording of his arrangement and performance of the classic Over the Rainbow in a medley with a tune by Malaysian composer P. Ramlee called Getaran Jiwa. The guitar Az is performing on is this very Proteus. Enjoy!
Over The Rainbow/Getaran Jiwa Medley by Az Samad
The back of this guitar is stunning, to say the least. I can't stop looking at it or showing it off, so forgive me for the seemingly redundant photos. The "heel" is every bit as comfortable as it looks. You can imagine your hand fitting into that space, allowing for comfortable, unimpeded playing of the uppermost frets.
The control cover is a bit more dimensional than just a flat panel. Because the guitar body is fairly thin (1 1/2"), I needed to allow for the controls by making the routed ledge for the cover more shallow than usual. By contouring the panel, I'm able to maintain a decent thickness for strength.
Besides the unique body shape, another strong feature of this instrument is the bridge with its carved "tailpiece", ebony bridge block, and brass pin saddles. The ebony bridge block fits into a slot and is fully height adjustable from the back. In the shots above, you'll note the two adjustment screw holes that raise or lower the bridge by turning the allen screws which reside in brass threaded inserts I've installed in the body of the guitar. I use this bridge regularly now, as also seen on the Satyrn.
The pin saddles have been intonated for a set of .011 strings, though .010s will likely be close. I can easily build an additional bridge block intonated for whatever string gauges the player prefers. Please note that this guitar sports a 24.625" scale length, so .011 strings are more easily bendable than they would be on a longer 25.5" scale guitar.
As you can see, I also hand-carved a set of identical knobs to match the design motif of the bridge.
The strings pass through the body from the back, held by a brass plate that also serves as an electronic ground, wired into the guitar's circuit. The plate is covered by the walnut plate you see drilled for the string ends.
I frequently incorporate maple or another hardwood into a walnut neck to enhance rigidity and brighten the tone somewhat. A solid walnut neck can be a bit dark at times, depending on the walnut. The carved profile on this neck is a soft V.
One other defining feature of this particular instrument is the set of pickups, custom-made for this guitar by Clint Searcy of Searcy String Works. I can't say enough about them. I prefer a clean, clear pickup, especially in the neck position. The music I play myself consists of chords that are comprised of close harmonies and a pickup has to be capable of voicing those harmonies without turning them to mud. And the bridge pickup gets up and rocks when you need it. Clint never lets me down with his work. He also gave me black pole screws for an equally clean look, as well as full adjustability of all the poles spaced specifically for the string spread of the Proteus. These are incredible humbuckers that I plan on using regularly in many of my future instruments where humbuckers are called for. I can't say enough about them. They complete the whole package of this versatile guitar.
This is the headstock design I'm using most these days. The offset logo badge here is carved in East Indian rosewood and precisely set into the headstock. The trussrod cover is carved walnut.
walnut w/maple top
Neck: walnut/maple, angled 3x3 headstock, carved rosewood badge, dual-action trussrod
Fretboard: East Indian rosewood, 12" radius, Mother of Pearl sidemarkers
Scale length: 24.625", 24 frets
Nut: graphite, 1.70" width
Pickups: Searcy String Works
humbuckers custom-made for this instrument
volume, tone, 3-way selector
custom ebony saddle block w/brass pin saddles, height adjustable
Tuners: black 3x3
Finish: Danish Oil and Tru-oil
PRICE: $5499 including a basic hardshell case
This instrument has been sold, but if you would like to discuss a similar instrument, I would be more than happy to talk with you about building you your own unique instrument.