Is this ultra-minimalist six-string that ignores conventional design the electric guitar of the future?

Zeta electric guitar
(Image credit: Zeta/Yanko Design)

From no-cuts, single-cuts and double-cuts all the way to angular body shapes with eye-catching spikes, it’s fair to say the electric guitar world has seen a huge supply of unique instruments. 

Be it the classic Fender Stratocaster or the three-pronged Dean ML, fans of the guitar have been treated to an endless amount of aesthetic variations, meaning it would take something truly unique to really catch us offguard.

Enter the Zeta guitar: an ultra-minimalist concept instrument, which will no doubt leave many six-string fans scratching their heads.

Created by designer Nicola Morelli, the Zeta was crafted with a very specific – and, dare we say, overly optimistic – outcome in mind: to congregate some of the most iconic guitar shapes in music history and repackage them into a futuristic design.

Zeta electric guitar

(Image credit: Zeta/Yanko Design)

“Zeta is born from the idea of creating a new electric guitar,” explained Morelli, “suitable to become a representative instrument of our time and not a borrowed element from past generations.”

Specifically, the two Zeta variations look to repurpose models such as the Gibson Les Paul and SG, and Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster, though having appraised the Zeta, we’re not quite sure that’s exactly what’s happened. Having said that, it’s a pretty nifty looking instrument in its own right.

But hey, maybe we just don’t understand contemporary design – something the Zeta draws heavily from. According to Yanko Design, the Zeta seemingly takes inspiration from a whole host of art movements, including Suprematism, Memphis 2.0, Abstractionism and Minimalism. With all that going on, there’s no wonder the contours and cutaways got lost in translation.

Zeta electric guitar

(Image credit: Zeta/Yanko Design)

“The challenge was to take the most iconic electric guitars of the past and make them current with a more minimal and clean aesthetic research,” said Morelli. “Among all the drafts, two emerged that summarize the two spirits of music with guitar: Light and round, Heavy and angular.”

In order to harness the Les Paul and Strat vibe, the Zeta ditches body contours and cutaways in favor of two simple geometric shapes, ignoring ergonomic considerations and conventional design norms.

“The aesthetic research began by understanding the trends of the guitar in the 2000s,” Morelli continued. “Matt Bellamy, with his super technological guitars, is probably the most significant icon of those years.

“Zeta delves into this discussion: it is almost the control center of a spaceship and also aesthetically takes elements from movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Zeta electric guitar

(Image credit: Zeta/Yanko Design)

There’s no word on what the Zeta will be made out of, nor how the unusual neck joint would hold the string tension. Morelli also hasn’t specified the electronics, with the Zeta coming equipped with what looks like three drastically spaced apart single-coils. 

But being aesthetically futuristic was only part of the goal. In addition, the Zeta also looked to offer a control circuit befitting its modern design, arriving with parameter sliders, built-in speakers and MIDI compatibility.

“The real innovation is the creation of a modular instrument, with control modules capable of modifying the sounds thanks to a MIDI cable,” explained Morelli. “Located on the front and side of the guitar, they can be changed to have different feelings and an effect can be assigned to each one.”

At the time of writing, the Zeta guitar is just a concept, and it remains to be seen whether Morelli’s creation will be turned into a reality. In the meantime, you can find out more about the Zeta on Nicola Morelli’s Behance page.

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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.