This week I was lucky enough to interview Greg Opatik, chief designer and owner of the Sinuous Guitars company. The company is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan and currently market one particular guitar design in a variety of woods and finishes etc. However the sole Sinuous guitar design currently available is definitely beautiful to behold, so Greg has clearly focussed on quality of design over quantity.
Looking at the Sinuous guitar design from the front, you are presented with an elegant and classic electric guitar design. It is rather sensible looking with what looks like the good access to frets, playability and balance, all the functionality you would need in a guitar body. Looking at this guitar from any kind of angle reveals that it also has a very alluring 3D shape to it. Greg says it is “sculpted”, furthermore he suggests that the Sinuous guitar designs “have improved the ergonomics that strengthen the intimate relationship between musician and instrument”.
To complement his guitar design and add to the Sinuous portfolio Greg is also working on a guitar amplifier design. I must admit to being very taken with this amplifier design and I think it may be one of the best looking amps I have ever seen – in a way that it could fit into a modern living space rather than being an oppressively eye-catching centre of attention. There are a number of videos that demonstrate the Sinuous guitar but the amplifier has not yet been prototyped.
Below is the interview I had with Greg of Sinuous Guitars.
GDR: I see you have a degree in design and a love of playing guitars from an early age. So was getting into the guitar making business the result of pursuing a personal long term goal?
Greg: I have always enjoyed designing and building new things, I even built a few guitars at a young age but it wasn’t until I was designing furniture for a while that I decided to design and build a guitar again, at that time I brought a lot more to the table and was able to sculpt and build what I envisioned vs duplicate.
GDR: Was there part of your design studies that made you think that guitars should be designed in a different way?
Greg: I approach design in a pretty simple manner. I strive to design something that in my mind makes sense and is the way it should be first then I make it look nice. I treated my guitar no different.
GDR: Please tell us more about your unique guitar design.
Greg: Simply put it wraps and contours to your body where you want it to and gently rolls away where you don’t want it hitting your body. To me it is very sculptural and elegant looking and also very comfortable. For instance where your right arm goes around the guitar you will not need to stretch or bend your arm to get around the body, your arm rests gently on the body curving your hand right to the strings making it very comfortable and relaxing to play.
GDR: Are you aware of any guitar designers following a similar route to yourself? I am thinking of the designs of the Organic Guitars company, have you seen these?
Greg: I have not seen these until now but they look very nice. I don’t think I am the only one trying to make the electric guitar more comfortable. When I commit to put the time and energy into something it is going to be to solve a problem and be unique. Not to say all current guitars are uncomfortable but when you play a Sinuous guitar you will feel the difference and be more relaxed while playing and I am assuming something similar from the Organic Guitars offer as well.
GDR: It’s good to see a new amplifier design. There’s only one picture on your site, can you tell/show us more? What about the internals?
Greg: At this point my amp is in stage one. Everything that was ever made was made at least twice. Once in your mind and the next in reality. The photos are computer renderings of my concept to build an amp that will match my guitars finishes and also be a stool to sit on while practising. Another thing I wanted to see out of an amplifier is to be able to be in a room and look good, you can put your guitar on a wall or lean it in a corner of a room and it can add aesthetic value and interest to the room. Amplifiers regardless of what type of wood is used to build the box do not flow well into a room very well. I blended my modern furniture design background to design this amp hoping to make it work well in a home or office. I hope to get ready soon to bring it to phase two and into reality.
GDR: Do you approach musical instrument design from an artistic or a scientific angle?
Greg: I design with three things in mind. Art, Science and Industrialization. I am a sculptor at heart so I always start with an artistic approach. As for the science a guitar is described as an “instrument” and as such it must perform a task very well. Staying in tune, built with great components and tone woods, every aspect was well thought out while designing Sinuous guitars making them gig worthy right out of the case. Industrialization is something that is necessary for keeping prices and quality in check. I am Director of Design for a large furniture manufacturer and have developed these guitars using 5 axis CNC machines making them extremely consistent and accurate. That also allows me time to focus on the hand work and craftsmanship details leaving the precision cutting to the CNC.
GDR: If you could have any musician as a conspicuous player of your guitars who would you choose?
Greg: Hm… So many.. I would have to say Adam Jones or Tom Morello. Joe Satriani or John 5 would be great to watch do what they do on it also.
GDR: Please let us know what are your favourite existing guitar designs and your favourite designers in any field.
Greg: I have always loved when guitar players make their own guitars. Even if it was just Stratocaster body altered to the players needs. Similar to Eddy’s Frankenstein guitar. Just looking at it you knew that guitar had a simple purpose to a specific persons style – to rock out on. Favourite design team would be Charles and Ray Eames. They coined the phrase “what-it-should-be-ness”. I always love seeing a well thought out product that feel like it makes sense and is the way it should be. They believed and followed this and I completely agree with them and what they did.
If you have further questions please add then in the comments below or alternatively contact Greg directly via the Sinuous website here. I hope Sinuous Guitars are successful and go on to produce their amplifier design and some more guitar designs in the future. If and when these things happen I will provide an update here on GDR.