Instruments & Gear: Fine Lutherie

Emerald X20 Eight-String

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Fingerstyle guitarist Nate Lopez demonstrates his custom carbon-fiber, fanned-fret, multi-scale guitar.

by Teja Gerken
May 09, 2016

Based in Northern California, Nate Lopez is a fingerstyle guitarist who performs on seven- and eight-string instruments. Like jazz guitarist Charlie Hunter, Lopez uses a setup that essentially splits the guitar in two, with five guitar strings and three bass strings, and his playing is highly polyphonic. He performed with an eight-string Novax electric for years, but when he started looking for a similar acoustic instrument, he chose Ireland’s carbon-fiber guitar specialist Emerald Guitars to build him a custom instrument.

Nate’s guitar is based on Emerald’s X20 model, but it differs in several ways. Besides the obvious fact that it has eight strings (Nate uses Dunlop strings with gauges ranging from .012 to .105), the guitar also features a multi-scale fingerboard, fanned from 25.5 inches at the first string to 28.75 at the eighth string. The guitar includes Emerald’s “Woody” option, in which a thin veneer of figured maple is laminated to the outside of the carbon-fiber top during the molding process. The guitar has two separate B-Band A3T pickup systems with separate output jacks, one installed for the five guitar strings, the other for the three bass strings, allowing separate processing or the option of running one set into a guitar amp and the other into a bass amp.

In this video, Nate discusses the process of ordering the instrument, talks about his playing technique, and performs his original piece “Back to Anaheim.”

SPECS: Eight-string guitar with carbon-fiber body and neck. Multi-scale fingerboard, fanned from 25.5-inches at the first string to 28.75 at the eighth string. Two-inch nut width. Five Gotoh 510 and three Gotoh Res-O-Lite tuners. Two B-Band A3T pickups and side-mounted preamps. High-gloss finish.

Category: Instruments & Gear

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