St. Vincent Discusses Her New Signature Ernie Ball Music Man Guitar
In March, Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, will join the likes of Albert Lee, John Petrucci and Steve Morse as the next in a line of genre-defining artists to release their own signature guitars with Ernie Ball Music Man.
Made with a body of African mahogany and a rosewood neck, the St. Vincent signature guitar will debut in one of two colors, either black or Vincent Blue—a shade that was hand-mixed by Clark herself—and comes fully equipped with three mini-humbuckers and a custom Music Man tremolo system.
With its slim and tapered waist, stylishly retro design and instantly playable feel, the Ernie Ball Music Man St. Vincent model is a thoroughly unique instrument.
It’s a big win for Ernie Ball and an even bigger win for Clarke’s many fans and acolytes.
From her humble beginnings playing around Dallas, Texas, as a young girl, in the past five years she’s really etched out a name for herself playing her own instantly identifiable jagged, new-wave revivalist sound and paved the way for so many individually minded artists following in her wake. By critical consensus, her self-titled record was one of the most lauded and celebrated releases of 2014.
Beyond the Grammy nominations and critics’ best-of lists, however, for Clarke, the opportunity to create a guitar with her name on it based off of some of her favorite designers and design movements from the Eighties was a real “dream come true.” Of course, instruments are about far more than aesthetics and Clark made it her mission to create something that would elevate both her own playing and the playing of anyone who picks it up and plugs it in.
“If you have a great instrument you’re going to play better,” she says. “You’re going to play up to the level of the instrument because it makes it easier for you to succeed.”
At what point were you approached by Ernie Ball Music Man about creating your own signature instrument?
It was in the early spring of 2015 that they reached out about it and the second I found out about Ernie Ball potentially making a signature guitar I jumped at the chance. I was so excited.
What was the first step for you?
I went to the factory, got a tour, saw how everything was made, saw the working conditions, which were quite good—it’s a living wage company. I saw that if I was going to do business with them I would not have to hold my nose in any way, shape or form. They do good business and treat people well, which is very important to me as a small business owner.
From the beginning, was it made clear how much freedom you would be afforded in the design process?
I really had total free reign. I could have revamped one of their existing models or started from scratch and done my own. I ended up just starting from scratch. My particular guitar is based a lot on [Eighties German synthpop artist] Klause Nomi’s aesthetic, the Memphis design movement, which was an [Eighties] Italian design movement, those Sixties and Seventies Japanese designed guitars like the Tescos and then I went for classic car colors. I really like cars so I went for a ’67 Corvette with the color scheme.
At a little over seven pounds, this isn’t a very heavy guitar. How important was it for you to create an instrument that is on the lighter side?