Up for sale, a Wildcard Cubist 2.0 archtop acoustic electric guitar, brand new and hand-crafted in Oakland, CA. While acoustic guitar building traditions go back hundreds of years, luthiers like Wildcard's Steve Card are crafting compelling and wholly unique instruments that are tailor made for today's players, while still satisfying the tonal desires of vintage purists. The Cubist is the 46th guitar crafted by Steve, and although his workshop is now based in Port Angeles, WA, this particular guitar was made while he resided at his old location in California.
As described by Steve Card,
"The tonal intention of the Cubist was to achieve a sound somewhere between an old Gibson L-5 archtop and a Maccafari guitar. The desire was to accomplish this while maintaining functionality with extra-light bronze strings. To make this work, a creative bracing style was used, which includes two transverse ladder braces, and two longitudinal braces locking the heel and the head-block together to create strength in the longitudinal direction (along the strings) of the body. The point of this concept is to relieve the soundboard (top) of structural responsibility so that the top can be thinner, more responsive, and freer to vibrate in all directions. Soundholes are necessary to allow airflow, but they don’t necessarily need to be on the top. Since we’ve gone to great lengths to stiffen the top and make it more responsive, putting a soundhole in the middle of it would detract from this intention by weakening the top and lessening the vibrational real estate."
The basic building blocks of the Cubist include a Sitka spruce top, California Claro walnut back and sides, a mahogany neck, and an ebony fretboard.This combination comes together to maximize the potential of all of these hallowed tone woods, and as luthier and Wildcard mastermind Steve Card once again explains,
"The California Claro walnut was chosen because of its appearance, workability, and its tonal versatility. Similar to mahogany, the low density of the walnut gives it a propensity towards a warm, round, dry sound. It also has a beautiful flame character. The Sitka spruce used for the top was chosen for similar reasons to the walnut. Spruce also lends itself to the specific structural needs. It is able to maintain its strength even when it is quite thin."
Of course the ebony fretboard delivers great detail and top end, while the archtop construction and use of walnut and mahogany adds an undeniable richness to the tone. There's a very open and crisp quality to the tone of the Cubist and while the midrange does have the presence and power of a classic archtop design, the frequencies being projected are more specific and nuanced. With the three soundholes carved into the walnut side and facing the player on the bass side upper bout, the experience as a player is wholly unique, with these soundholes acting like mini monitors that let you gauge your sound. The unique features and meticulous build quality of the Cubist adds up to a guitar that is a joy to play, extremely resonant, and notably articulate. The floating Bill Lawrence humbucker adds further versatility, and the pickup is jaw-droppingly clear and warm. Whether you're playing through a vintage tube amp or more modern solid state acoustic preamp, this pickup has perfect balance between the wound bronze and plain strings, with a far more convincing "acoustic" sound when plugged in than the vast majority of pickups can manage.
The mahogany neck has an asymmetrical profile, with more depth on the bass side which fills the palm and allows for quicker, more effortless lead work when navigating the treble side of the board. The neck meets the body at the 12th fret, with 22 frets total, a generous cutaway for easy access to the higher registers of the board, and a floating fretboard extension from the 14th fret onward. The scale length is a full 25 1/2" and the generous slab ebony fretboard measures a full 1 13/16" at the nut. The fretboard radius is extremely flat, and the fretwire has moderate width and perfectly rounded crowns, while still being shy of a medium jumbo in terms of overall width. The mahogany headstock has a walnut veneer, along with a set of black Gotoh tuning machines that turn very smoothly, hold pitch well, and have a clean, understated look.
On the body, the hand-carved floating ebony bridge is beautifully shaped, and truly a work of art, fitted with a compensated saddle for optimal intonation. The floating carved ebony pickguard has an almost batwing shape, and the Bill Lawrence humbucker is wired to hand carved ebony volume and tone knobs. While the neck has a smooth matte finish, the body is finished in a high gloss, accentuating the prominent bookmatched flame figuring in the walnut back. Another player-friendly feature of the Cubist is that both the top and back are "bent" on the bass side of the body, making the bass side of the instrument slightly more slender and comfortable where the forearm crosses the top. To further clarify, while the top and back are arched on both sides of the body, the bass side is notably more slim.
While this is a new instrument, it has been in the Wildcard showroom for some time, and as such, there are a few tiny nicks on the body, but nothing of consequence that could be adequately captured with a camera lens. This instrument is a unique and expertly crafted guitar, proudly made by hand in the USA!
The original Guardian hardshell case with lush green interior is included.
Back and sides: Claro walnut
Top: Sitka Spruce
Bridge and fingerboard: ebony
Floating Bill Lawrence acoustic neck pickup
Scale length: 25.5"
Neck width: 1 13/16"
Made for fingerstyle acoustic jazz players
Assymetrical body and neck profile
Soundhole placement: side of upper bout
Sound: Maccaferri/archtop hybrid
Designed for .010-.011 gauge bronze strings