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Build Diary - Just Tes

Updated: Jun 15, 2022

"The brief that Stephen gave the Norfolk-based guitar makers was that he wanted the Les Paul aspect of the instrument to give him the sounds of Jimmy Page and Slash via the bridge pickup, as well as the sustained stylings of Muse's Matt Bellamy through the neck. Oh, and while Belvoir was at it, perhaps a piezo for quality acoustic sounds and a MIDI function that could be controlled from an XY pad - and why not have it all wired so a mix of the instruments various electronic components was possible at any one time?"

Guitarist Magazine Issue 445

Initially, Stephen was working with Belvoir's Clive Eastwood: "I'm sure Clive secretly had a few 'WTF?!' moments when he first heard Stephen confesses. Head luthier Chris Lawes takes up the story: "The challenge was to incorporate Steve's requirements, specifically the flat and rectangle XY pad, into a carved top LP build that flowed. To me, guitars are all about feminine curves. I'd already built a diamond tessellating topped LP as a prototype and the eureka moment came with the idea to use a block pattern, replacing the largest block with the MIDI controller pad inserted from behind. After the top was glued up, it was a straightforward build using tried-and-tested materials along with vintage techniques - albeit with some seriously complex electrics..."

Guitarist Magazine Issue 445

"Their (Belvoir Guitars) design team very quickly sent me over rendered digital drawings to bounce around ideas and the process was a lot more fun than I'd expected."

Guitarist Magazine Issue 445

"I'd approached several UK luthiers to discuss my once-in-a-lifetime guitar," he told us, "but it was Belvoir's willingness to make this tech-heavy idea work in a sympathetic and traditional approach that appealed to me"

Guitarist Magazine Issue 445

Based on an LP-style single-cut, the Tess's body is made from 130-year-old South American mahogany with a tessellated pattern top made from alternating blocks of hand-carved walnut and beech with a satin nitrocellulose finish.

Tess's neck is a maple/walnut/maple laminate with a 22-fret fngerboard made from Indian ebony, sporting LP-inspired trapezoid inlays. The headstock has a holly fascia, an abalone castle inlay and Grover tuners.

The mind-boggling array of electronics aboard the Tess includes a Bareknuckle Stormy Monday pickup in the bridge, a Sustainiac in the neck and a Graph Tech bridge with a built-in piezo and MIDI sensor. The XY control pad sits behind with an all-seeing-eye...

Switching and controls include rotaries (top to bottom); volume for bridge and neck pickuips, volume for piezo and MIDI; master tone (push for Sustainer on/off); Sustainer harmonic gain (push for Sustainer mix control); and XY pad control.

Guitarist Magazine Issue 445

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