Stratoblogster Labs: Belgium’s TAO Guitars

When the Rev. Billy Gibbons isn’t playing a Gretsch Billy-Bo or a Pearly clone on the road, there's no telling what the Texas guitar connoisseur might be sportin’!

A short YouTube clip (Sorry, we can't embed this video!) from a July 2011 show in France features Billy with a sexy T-type by TAO Guitars of Brussels, Belgium.

The El Mirage axe is a one-off guitar for Gibbons springing from TAO’s T-Bucket platform, a sort of space-age, George Jetson, retro-modern T-type interpretation. In fact, all TAO’s models might be described as “space-age, retro-modern Jetsons.”

Although I’m not much for ale with coriander in it, I understand the Belgians invented French fries -- the world’s best -- which they call “pomme frites.” They cook ‘em in duck fat, too! Damn! And now we know they got mad guitar experiments goin’ on as well! Luthiers Serge Michiels and John Joveniaux are similar to Europe’s young rogue chefs when it comes to sexing up fresh innovations that are hand-built in a CNC-free kitchen.

But staying focused on the El Mirage: ... Working closely with The Reverend’s chief guitar seeker, a Mr. Elwood Francis (is this a real guy?), TAO’s luthiers came up with a number of high-stylin’ features and fashion cues for this project. Adorning the chambered Spanish cedar body are several unique appointments. Belgium’s Krugger Motorcycles were called in for help on the bucket bridge design with compensated brass barrel saddles. Underneath the custom pickup covers lives a special VL (Vintage Labs) PAF Repro by Dave Stephens of SD Design.

And perhaps coolest of all, even though it has no function, is the body “jewel” in the top front bout. Fabricated from a simple knife and spoon, the piece is designed to appear as the center wheel ornament of a Cadillac V-16 Fleetwood Roadster when spinning. Now who friggin’ thinks of that?!?!?! Oh, and the knobs are based on the “Beehive” oil filters on old flathead hot rods. A few other classic American-car-style cues are blended into the genuine DuPont automotive gloss black/matte gold finish also on the headstock face.

We’re talkin’ Euro-sexy meets retro-American. You can bet Billy G has waved this little croissant hot rod teaser under Jeff Beck’s nose!

And really, folks, what’s more American than French fries anyway?

JP Holesworth authors the Stratoblogster Guitar Blog and resides in rural Oregon, surrounded by Pinot Noir vineyards, hop plantations, medical MJ farms and extreme environMENTAL consciousness. But he loves red meat and vacuum tubes!

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