Fret ‘n’ wild: The Sky Guitar
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The medieval riff-slanger (see photo at right) might look like the ultimate adolescent fantasy, but actually, it separates the men from the boys. For few teenage rockstar wannabes could possibly tame a beast with 35 frets, or handle its six-octave range (or afford it).
This is a Sky Guitar, the proprietary instrument of German axeman Uli Jon Roth. He rose to prominence simultaneously with his band, Scorpions, in the mid-to-late 1970s, but left when the band moved in a more commercial direction, just as he found himself straying from a blues-based playing style to one that more closely emulated classical music. So dramatic was his shift in style, he sought to treat the guitar like a violin — none of this Jimmy Page-with-a-bow shit, but have his instrument re-create the high notes of a violin. In 1982, he dreamt one up and had one made, with about 10-15 more frets than your standard guitar.
Yes, it’s ridiculous. But so is Roth’s playing, so envied by hard rock and guitar enthusiasts that he started teaching his technique to classes in Los Angeles. And after watching guitar makers bootleg the design for years, without accurate measurements or specifications, he also officially licensed his concept to an instrument maker (Dean Guitars), which in 2010 made 50 six- and seven-string versions of the famed beast. EBay currently has one running just shy of $20,000 — and that’s down from $23,000. But for $5, you can watch the virtuoso play one in the flesh.
With The Stoney Curtis Band. Friday, Feb. 22, 9:30 p.m.; Vamp’d, W. Sahara Ave., www.vampdvegas.com, $5.