Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) has constantly reinvented herself as a musician and an artist. Now she’s reinventing the guitar itself.
The musician who has taken home Grammys and collaborated with David Byrne, all while dating Suicide Squad star Cara Delevingne, is now making a leap for music technology that someone should have facilitated a long time ago.
“For me a guitar that is not too heavy is really important because I’m not a very big person,” she told Guitar World in a recent interview. “I can’t even play a Sixties Strat or Seventies Les Paul. I would need to travel with a chiropractor on tour in order to play those guitars. It’s not that those aren’t great guitars, but they render themselves impractical and unfunctional for a person like me because of their weight.”
“Her new guitar weighs around seven pounds, mostly thanks to its narrow, elongated body, which is devoid of curves. And that slim shape isn’t just there to cut weight. ‘I was always finding when I was playing onstage and wearing various stage outfits the guitar would cut across one of the best features of the female body, which is your waist,’ she says. With this guitar, held up high, her stage costumes can be much better seen.”
The team at Ernie Ball went back and forth with Clark over a design that scrapped more than a dozen prototypes. The retro-future design outside matches some elaborate interior wiring. The five-way switch allows the player to mix and match the guitar’s three pickups — the magnetic “sensors” that translate the movement of the strings into an electrical current that is then sent to an amplifier — in combinations not usually possible.
Featuring an African mahogany body, Ernie Ball Music Man tremolo, gunstock oil, and hand-rubbed rosewood neck and fingerboard, St. Vincent inlays, Schaller locking tuners, five-way pickup selector with custom configuration, and three mini-humbuckers, the guitar also comes complete with Ernie Ball Regular Slinky guitar strings.
For some idea about the damage a St. Vincent guitar must endure, watch any of her live concert footage. This former Polyphonic Spree musician has become more brutal on stage each year.
By the by, if you’ve never listened to any of the releases from Beck’s Record Club (for which Beck and some friends record covers of entire albums over a weekend), then check out this track from their INXS session featuring St. Vincent.