Wolf Kater :: Custom made musical instruments Wolf Kater :: Custom made musical instruments
Wolf Kater :: Custom made musical instruments
Slide Guitars

Open tunings seem totally logical—someone somewhere picked up a guitar and, not knowing any better, simply tuned it to an open chord and started to strum. Chords seemed no problem either, just use your extended finger to bar across, or better still, find an old piece of plumbing or Grandpa's sparkplug socket and use that as a bar. So the slide was born, although those pesky now marker-only frets got in the way - soooooo - let's jack up the strings to clear them.

And thus were a lot of good guitars condemned to a torturous death—ironically, the finer, delicate instruments would suffer more than the plywood dime-store ones. Normal guitars simply aren't built to withstand the multiplied loads that jacked-up strings exert.

Enter the acoustic-electric slide guitar. This instrument was conceived, designed and built as a slide guitar. The differences are critical—compressive bracing that can resist the high string loads, a wide and high bridge producing normal down bearing on the nut, a similar raised headstock to lower the bearing on the nut and eliminate string creep, a constant-profiled neck that does not require capo adjustments, and the visual signature of two mirror ebony Pickguards that also form the rim of the sound-hole to guard against top-wood tear-out from fingerpicks. A pot knob also protrudes through each Pickguard; the volume on the treble, tone on the bass. The BIG question was: would a magnetic pickup sense the strings some 3/8" above it?

Oh yes, no problemo. These things go like stink.


Acoustic-Electric Slide - 6 string
Prop. Joe Grass
This is one of my favorite instruments, it's tremendous fun to play. Although this slide can be played purely acoustic, amplification is almost de rigueur to get the real benefit and proper tone. The spruce/mahogany format was used again, why not?, complemented by a rock maple neck. Again, the results were clear bright basses and soaring trebles with ridiculous sustain - just what the doctor ordered. I deliberately opted for a full-bodied version to maximize tone production, especially if playing unamplified. The instrument holds tune incredibly well since the bridge does not float on a membrane. This thing is tremendous fun.
Top:  Sitka spruce
Back and Sides:  African mahogany
Binding and Centre Stripe:  purpleheart
Inlay:  two concentric b/w/w/b arcs between the Pickguards
Pickguards:  two profiled and polished mirror ebony "butterfly" wings
Neck:  book-matched Quebec rock maple
Neck Centre Stripe:  purpleheart
Truss Rod:  aluminum over/under
Headstock Veneer:  book matched Quebec apple
Tuners:  14:1 Grover
Fingerboard and Bridge:  Asian rosewood
Fingerboard Radius:  flat
Fingerboard Dots:  mother of pearl
Fret wire:  medium or jumbo
Scale:  25 5/8"
Nut and Saddle:  nut - brass
  saddle - bone
Body depth:  top - 3 5/8"
  bottom - 3 7/8"
Neck Pickup:  Alnico Golden Age (middle)


Acoustic-Electric Slide - 7 string
Prop. Julia Kater
The devil made me do it. This thing is downright scary. There's so much bass in this box it has rattled walls and windows. The two-octave fingerboard, standard in these instruments as well, allows a bold slide player to venture out on slide thin ice - the dreaded upper treble, where pitch is true or false by microns. As the designer/builder I felt it critical to facilitate the player's use of the high treble; ergo the double cutaway to allow bar clearance on the treble side and wrist action on the bass. This instrument is far ahead of its time in slide-land; the extra bass string exponentializing the already limitless chromatic variations a normal six string instrument offers. I had to build it, and it works. Will they come?
Top:  Sitka spruce
Back and Sides:  Quebec black walnut
Binding and Centre Stripe:  Quebec rock maple
Inlay:  two concentric b/w/w/b arcs between the Pickguards
Pickguards:  two profiled and polished mirror ebony "butterfly" wings
Neck:  book-matched Quebec rock maple
Neck Centre Stripe:  Quebec black walnut
Truss Rod:  aluminum over/under
Headstock Veneer:  book matched Quebec apple
Tuners:  16:1 Gotoh
Fingerboard and Bridge:  ebony
Fingerboard Radius:  flat
Fingerboard Dots:  mother of pearl
Fret wire:  jumbo
Scale:  25 5/8"
Nut and Saddle:  nut - brass
  saddle - bone
Body depth:  top - 3 7/8"
  bottom - 4 1/8"
Neck Pickup:  Alnico Golden Age (middle)