In the 1980s, as synthesizers and drum machines threatened to take over popular music, electric guitar manufacturers tried to come up with instruments that were more relevant to the times—or at least looked that way. Guitars made from non-standard materials like graphite and fiberglass began showing up in music stores; many of them (the most famous being Steinberger’s “headless” axes) were visually striking, indicating that a major guitar-design rethink was underway.
One of the oddest examples of this was the Bond Electraglide, devised by Englishman Andrew Bond (an ex-bus conductor) and produced in a purpose-built factory in Muir of Ord, a village in the Scottish Highlands. Its black carbon-fiber body, graphite neck, and aluminum fingerboard set it apart immediately from more traditional wooden models. But even more distinctive was that it lacked one of the central characteristics of your typical guitar: frets.
This unusual design feature didn’t mean that you could just slide up and down the neck with no barriers, though. Instead of being divided by the usual horizontal metal strips, the Electraglide’s fingerboard was shaped much like a staircase, with each “step” representing where a fret would normally be. As if that weren’t strange enough, all the guitar’s controls for volume, tone, and pickup selection were digital, and it had a built-in mother board, like a computer. (In the photo above, note the LED readout screen on the body’s lower bout.)
Bond built about 1,400 Electraglides between 1984 and 1986. The guitar’s most famous adopter was probably U2’s guitarist Dave “The Edge” Evans, who used it extensively on the band’s Grammy-winning 1987 album The Joshua Tree. Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, Mick Jones of the Clash and—at the time—Big Audio Dynamite, Will Sergeant of Echo & the Bunnymen, and John Turnbull of Ian Dury & the Blockheads also gave it a try (enticed, no doubt, by Bond’s business partner Ian Flooks, one of the most successful talent agents in Britain). Beyond those rockers, however, very few took an Electraglide home. Unfortunately, the same digital features that made it look so alluringly futuristic also required that it have an external power supply, and most guitarists aren’t fond of the kind of plugging in that involves a bulky charger pack and a wall outlet. Manufacturing these injection-molded instruments for a mass market proved tricky as well, and the company dissolved after only two years in business. Andrew Bond died in 1999.
These days, the Bond Electraglide is more a curiosity than a collector’s item, but it remains an interesting early example of what you can get when you combine digital technology with good old-fashioned guitar making.
Scroll through the slideshow below to learn about new instruments and musical gear.
One particular feature that sets Bose Professional’s AMM loudspeakers apart is called the Beamwidth Matching Waveguide. This proprietary device, located just behind the speaker grille, seals the acoustic volume of the woofer and controls low-frequency dispersion with a unique vent pattern. Translation: Sound covers a given space symmetrically, with lows and highs precisely aligned. These coaxial two-way speakers—ideal for monitor or main use—come in two sizes, the AMM108 and AMM112, with a companion subwoofer, the AMS115.
Prices TBA | pro.bose.com