“A headless guitar pioneer”: Paul Masvidal signs with Kiesel Guitars as Ola Strandberg champions the Cynic guitarist’s decade-plus tenure with his firm

Paul Masvidal Kiesel Gutiars
(Image credit: Kiesel Guitars)

Cynic guitarist Paul Masvidal has made a surprise switch to Kiesel Guitars as he becomes the American luthier’s latest endorsee. He will now work with the manufacturer on its extensive headless guitar range, which includes the Vader, Osiris, Leia, and Zeus.  

The move marks the end of his tenure with Swedish guitar manufacturer Strandberg, which lasted for over a decade and included five different signature Masvidalien models. His final Strandberg signature, an updated version of the Masvidalien NX 6 Cosmo, was released in 2017.

Masvidal signed with Strandberg in 2013, a year before Cynic returned from hiatus with their album, Kindly Bent Us Free. He teamed up with the ergonomic guitar innovators when they were still a small and relatively unknown company.

Reacting to the news on Instagram, founder Ola Strandberg graciously wished the guitarist the best in his new venture whilst reflecting on their time together.

“I want to offer Paul Masvidal my best wishes for his future artistry as an endorser of Kiesel Guitars,” he says in his post. “When Paul teamed up with us at Strandberg over 10 years ago, we had a production of 20 or so guitars [per] month, and after all we have gone through over the years, I consider Paul a great personal friend.

“We have gone through at least five iterations of his Masvidalien signature guitar together, including the one based on the now highly sought after Varberg model. No matter what tools he uses to create his music, I look forward to following his creative endeavors!”

The news comes ahead of Cynic’s return to the stage for a European tour with Obscura in March. They played a string of US dates in September, including a performance at ProgPower in Atlanta. These may be the last shows Masvidal will be seen touting his Strandberg models, with these fresh dates the first chance to see him work his magic across Kiesel fretboards.  

On the endorsement, an official statement from Kiesel Guitars reads: “Kiesel Guitars is excited to announce our newest endorser, Paul Masvidal. The Cynic founder and headless guitar pioneer partners with Kiesel Guitars to play its vast array of headless instruments, both electric and acoustic-electric guitars.

“Masvidal, regarded as a trailblazer among many communities, helped launch the headless guitar to its booming popularity today. His origins with the construction can be traced back to the early '90s when Masvidal played with Death and helped introduce headless instruments to extreme metal. Kiesel is excited to work with Masvidal on future projects.”

Masvidal joins a Kiesel guitar family that includes Greg Howe, Scale The Summit's Chris Letchford, Ice Nine Kills' Dan Sugarman and fast-rising star, Sophie Lloyd. Kiesel Guitars also worked on a signature model for the late Allan Holdsworth, whose playing has greatly influenced Masvidal's writing.

Cynic, formed in 1987, helped meld jazz fusion with death metal, with Masvidal's work becoming highly influential across the extreme metal scene.

His talents led to a brief stint in Death in 1989, while still in high school, as a stand-in live guitarist. He turned down the offer to join full-time to remain focused on Cynic. The band has released four studio albums, with Masvidal having also written three solo albums between 2019 and 2020.

For more information about Kiesel Guitars' headless models, head to its website. 

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Phil Weller

A freelance writer with a penchant for music that gets weird, Phil is a regular contributor to Prog, Guitar World, and Total Guitar magazines and is especially keen on shining a light on unknown artists. Outside of the journalism realm, you can find him writing angular riffs in progressive metal band, Prognosis, in which he slings an 8-string Strandberg Boden Original, churning that low string through a variety of tunings. He's also a published author and is currently penning his debut novel which chucks fantasy, mythology and humanity into a great big melting pot.