It’s become clear in recent years that Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess is not satisfied with accomplishing a virtuosic performance level on keys alone, and is increasingly setting his sights on the electric guitar, too.
Over on YouTube, Rudess has previously posted clips in which he shreds on both instruments simultaneously, and it was under one such video that a commenter dubbed Jedi Council (of course) suggested a plan (opens in new tab):
“Bro. I just had an insane idea. We need a Twin neck, guit-synth. One neck mini-keyboard, other neck guitar. Load it up with effects and call it The Wizard's Axe.”
Well, that fan fantasy appears to have taken a step closer to reality lately. In a recent update, Rudess posted a short clip introducing a prototype half-guitar, half-keyboard build that’s under production from custom builder Druzkowski Guitars.
Rudess opens the video by showing off some simultaneous playing across both sides of the instrument, using the guitar and keyboard to play in harmony with each other.
“I’m very excited," says Rudess. “Because today I got to look at the very first prototype of a new instrument I’m designing with Przemek Druzkowski, the master guitar builder. This is the first prototype and I’m blown away because I didn’t expect to see it today. You can see that it’s all one piece. It’s totally a prototype and I’m sharing it with you guys so you can be excited about it as well.”
Later he comments, “It weighs about as much as a Les Paul… It’s going to be awesome. It will feature one of Przemek’s guitar designs and it will have a MIDI keyboard below.”
Druzkowski Guitars had previously put together a Strandberg-esque custom eight-string headless signature guitar for Rudess that it dubbed The Wizard Guitar (opens in new tab).
The new build shares some features with that model, including a bridge cutaway and the distinctive long upper horn, but currently incorporates a six-string, single-humbucker design. On the keyboard side, there’s a (somewhat ungainly) 49-key MIDI keyboard.
It is, as Rudess emphasises, very much at the prototype stage – you’ll see that it's quite literally held together with gaffer tape in places – so no doubt there will be some big changes before its finalized.
Nonetheless, it is an intriguing prospect – even if it feels like Rudess might be the only player in the world capable of making the most of this quirk of guitar history.