The first question that may pop into your mind is: What is Vida? Well, long story short, Vida is my latest custom-made guitar. I didn’t know its name until the day I finished it, but when the moment came, Vida felt just right.
You see, the process of making a custom-made guitar is very much different than designing an edition for Gallo Guitars. Even though they all start organically at the same place, the thought process is completely different. Instead of sitting for hours just thinking and sketching different ideas of what I want to convey in a new edition, the process is now the one of collaborating with someone else.
The process always starts with an idea. Its starts with the vision a musician has for one of my guitars and how they will compliment their act. This process may be as quick as their impulse or may take months in the building. Now, once I get in contact with the musician we sit down and get to work. This case was no different when I created Vida for my friend Dan Pat. We met, I told him a little bit about my artwork and a couple of months later we were talking about custom-making a guitar for him. It is a pretty interesting story, but more on that later.
When I make a guitar for an artist, I always ask them about their music. I also about what they like, what moves them and what they want to say. When I asked these questions to Dan, he told me this really cool story about his music and its relation to Costa Rica. Dan is originally from there and likes to irradiate a very positive vibe with his songs. He talked about his lifestyle of spreading happiness and how you can see Costa Rica’s modo “Pura Vida”, which means “pure life” or “pure joy” in Spanish, in the way him and most other Costa Ricans live their lives. Also, I asked he would like to see aesthetically on a guitar and he said that he very much enjoyed geometric designs.
After Dan left my studio that afternoon, there were two main concepts that stuck with me. The first was the idea of spreading happiness and this tropical vibe through the concept of living joyfully: ‘Pura Vida’. The second, was the idea of how would that look on a guitar and how could I apply that to a design that would compliment him on stage. All and all this is what remained in my mind: make a guitar that speaks joyfully on a tropical, yet geometric way. Pretty overwhelming, but I was up for the challenge.
It was time to get to work. I made some sketches, but, as usual, you have to go through several of them until you find the one that you like the best. Once I had picked out the best, I made a virtual sketch and worked on color schemes. When I had finally settled on a design I liked, there was nothing much to think and it was all execution.
Putting this custom-made guitar together for Dan took a couple of weeks, but when it was finished I was very glad I took my time to make it look as great as I wanted it to be.
To finish up, here are some of the things that I really enjoyed and like to highlight about ‘Vida’:
Exposed wood grain: I have no idea what turns my brain on so much about seeing the wood grain on this guitar, but I am pretty sure it has something to do with the material interaction between the plastic clear tops and the wooden frame.
7 color design It is tough to learn how to make a one-color coat look great, but now multiply that times 7! It wasn’t the easiest of tasks and there was a lot of waiting and persevering involved, but I am very grateful for the final look in this guitar.
Tone-wood and pickup set-up: Vida’s body is made out of Ash, which helps me give a warm-full feel to the guitar, complimenting the naturally bright tone of the plastic top and bottoms. The Seymour Duncan SH-11 also ranges towards the warmer side, while the SD P-90 gives it more of a range with a slightly brighter, yet hotter tone. All and all, a great combination.
Sound Reactive Setup As all of my Gallo Guitars, Vida has also installed within a sound reactive setup, that changes color depending on the notes you play. I have also installed a lithium batter with a charger and a USB port that plugs right into the wall.
- Jose Gallo-