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Specimen was fortunate enough to be selected by the kind and talented people at Fruit Bonus films to be featured in a series of short doc videos about our work.

We met with Mark Pallman and his crew last September right at the time Ian was finishing the Upside Down Ceiling Janus. After nearly a year in development, this Specimen was due to be delivered to its new owner in a couple weeks. It seemed the perfect opportunity to document this one-of-a-kind horn speaker.

On the day of the shoot we invited a musician and good friend, the amazing Jim Elkington, to demonstrate the magic made possible with this unique speaker. After months of editing hours and hours of footage, the video is now complete. We couldn’t be prouder.

Check it out!

Filmed in September 2012 at Specimen Products in Chicago IL.

This video features owner/engineer Ian Schneller detailing the internal structures and functionality of his first ever upside down spinning double horn speaker.

Musical demonstration by Jim Elkington

Directed by Fruit Bonus
Director of Photography – Drew Wehde
Camera Operator – Amanda Speva
Camera Operator – Mark Pallman
Camera Assist – Gary Maloof
Production Audio – Erik Rasmussen
Data Management – Abbie Hamilton
Editor – Mark Pallman
Assistant Editor – Tim Cahill
Animation/Design – Tyler Nelson
Titles – Jason Oberg
Color – Jeff Greco
Audio Mix – Marina Bacci

This Tele-style instrument is a commission for a local guitar player. It has an alder body with a book-matched flame-maple cap. We wanted to take this traditional instrument in a special direction so the guitar will feature custom-made checkerboard binding, square fretboard inlays, orange-into-walnut sunburst, and Lindy Fralin pickups with a 4-way circuit.

To create the binding, I first made up checkerboard tiles from rosette sticks. I ripped two different sized slots in a solid chunk of Teflon (even super glue is reluctant to stick to this material). After staging my sticks strategically in the Teflon slots, I impregnated the bundles with super glue. After it set, I managed to remove the logs. Then after sanding them, four quarter logs are placed in the larger slot and the process repeated.

I used a small mitre box to cut 2.5mm tiles from the logs. These are then individually tapered in order to negotiate the guitar’s curves. There is actually a hidden inner rivulet of alternating cubes inside the checkerboard.

Below is a slideshow of images detailing the binding process.

For an entomological bent on this very special commission for Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, I created a pickguard using 600 emerald beetle wings infused with urethane resin. The process is very involved and required making many test samples before embarking on the final form.

The first consideration was how to juxtapose these wings. The thickness and curvature of the pickguard shape posed a challenge. I didn’t want to break apart the wings as they would lose their identity. Topologically, they resemble miniature ceramic roof tiles, so I decided to interlay them just like roof tiles to form a continuous covering. Perfect!

I embedded the beetle wings in epoxy resin using a vacuum pump. Once in place, a perimeter mold is cut out and screwed down onto a Formica platter with mold release compound on it to ensure separation at the end of the process. Cup by cup, resin is catalyzed and put in a vacuum chamber to de-gas it and remove all the tiny bubbles. It is then carefully poured over the wings.

The overall thickness of the pickguard grew to a formidable 3/4″. Since I wanted to keep the guitar a regular shape so it would feel ‘normal’, I had to rout the body and deeply embedded the pickguard into the guitar’s body (another engineering challenge!). Once installed, only 1/8″ of pickguard protrudes above the body’s surface where it is beveled like an ordinary pickguard. This overall effect gives gives the pickguard a three-dimensional wing-scape.

Below is a slideshow of images showing the pickguard making process.

Check out my other Blog post documenting other building processes. You can read more about this guitar, see photos of the finished instrument and videos of the band here.