Ronnie James Dio's 'devil horns' hand gesture has been turned into a guitar

Cynosure Dio guitar
(Image credit: Cynosure)

Every year since 2014, UK-based brand Cynosure – headed up by luthier Oliver Andrew – has been commissioned by Bloodstock Festival’s Paul Raymond Gregory to create eye-catching electric guitars for the event’s bespoke RAM art gallery.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the iconic metal festival, and as such, Cynosure has served up four exquisite custom guitars, the first two of which have been revealed – including one inspired by Dio’s iconic 'horns' hand gesture.

Commemorating 10 years since the passing of Ronnie James Dio, Andrew has paid tribute to the late heavy metal legend by way of a one-of-a-kind six-string molded in the shape of his eternalized gesture.

Cynosure Dio guitar

(Image credit: Cynosure)

Speaking to MusicRadar, Andrew commented that the technical side of the build was “a pain in the bloody arse” and “exceptionally difficult” – unsurprising really, given the unorthodox body shape – but stressed that “we could not think of anything more iconic and synonymous with Dio”.

“Ronnie James Dio was one of the most prominent figures in rock 'n' roll and metal history, and absolutely pioneered the shaping of the genre itself and also what goes along with the music – the imagery, and the lyrical content,” he continued. “He was an iconic figure who created a whole mythology around rock and metal.

"For me as with everyone else, he's such an iconic figure due to his efforts creating this genre. I definitely think he achieved such a stance and such a platform due to his sheer creativity. 

Cynosure Dio guitar

(Image credit: Cynosure)

“He was definitely one of the more adventurous people in music and his legacy lives on, within the music, the artwork, and the social, community, and cultural aspects. He was a pioneer.”

As for appointments, the exotically spec’d Dio custom guitar features a zebra wood body – which pays homage to Dio’s Holy Diver music video – as well as a wenge fretboard and abalone inlays. A rainbow-colored metal band wraps around the perimeter of where the curves usually sit for a standard six-string, with a single humbucker being controlled by a wrist-mounted volume knob.

“In terms of playability and ergonomics, it was a complete pain [to build]!” he recalled. “We have the base structure, which is the hand, which is carved. As you can imagine, that would be slightly top-heavy, so I had to formulate a way to make it comfortable and recognizable as a guitar.”

The other guitar in the collection is a Purple Haze-inspired model, built to mark the 50th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix’s passing last year. 

Featuring a far more conventional body shape akin to Jimi’s Strat, the semi-hollow axe comes equipped with a multi-laminate purpleheart/maple/wenge body, as well as gold GFS pickups, gold hardware, gold frets and gold inlays. A removable brass back panel, adorned with an image of Hendrix, also makes the cut.

“For me, Jimi was just one of those iconic figures, as I'm sure he is for everyone who enjoys electric guitar, or just music in general," commented Andrew. "He completely reinterpreted the electric guitar and its functionality, and opened up several different avenues in music itself, in terms of genres and the possibilities for the creation of music.”

For more information, head over to Cynosure.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.