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  • Writer's pictureBarış Şahin

Interview with Pascal Langelaar from Aristides Guitars

Hello Pascal. Welcome to Tone Journey. Let’s begin with a classic; your very first steps on Aristides Guitars? How did you get into all of these?

Thank you so much! We really appreciate the interest you’ve shown in our instruments and I’m happy to get your questions answered. Aristides was founded in 2007 by my father and myself, with the help of a group of investors we were able to acquire the basis of the materail we now call Arium, which was developed by a group of engineers at the Technical University in Delft with the purpose of having amazing acoustic properties and to be be used for manufacturing instruments as opposed to having to use tonewoods. Setting up the manufacturing process and creating a market for high end non-wood guitars was a huge challenge and especially the first years were a huge combination of trial and error, but we’re extremely happy to have now build a company with a wonderful international customer base, that develops and builds everything in house in our factory in Haarlem, The Netherlands.

How can you describe “Arium”? People have ideas on maple, mahogany or alder. So, in tonal wise, where should fit Arium in the spectrum?

That’s a good question, I always like to describe Arium as a very consistent, resonant and transparent (in a good way) material, that allows the qualities of the pickups and other hardware to shine through. We feel that our guitars have the right balance between brightness and warmth and are a beautiful canvas where people can color in the sound using the hardware and electronic components of their preference.

Is there any possibility of “Arium” could be used by any other well known guitar builders/companies henceforth gain more popularity in the future?

This would be a possibility, but it’s not something that’s currently on our road map. We’re currently finalizing the development of our new multiscale bass line (4,5 and 6 string) and it’s very likely that we branch out further into semi-acoustic and even acoustic guitars over the next years. We’ve been approached by some companies in the past for collaborations (not just guitars, even completely different instruments like drums), but have thus far decided to keep everything in house and Arium exclusive to Aristides Guitars.

Making of Aristides Guitars

I’m pretty sure you are about the “tone wood” debate. So what’s your position on that very popular debate? Are you in “tone is in the pickups, you deaf mules” guy or “suck you morons, it is all about the wood” camp?

Haha, yeah I’m always fascinated about the workings of the internet and how intense people can get over debates like this, but I guess that’s just the world we live in currently, it’s all black & white what you see online.. I personally feel that tone is created by a combination in which all the components used on the instrument. The body material definitely plays a big part in this, but is not the only thing that’s contributing to the overall tone. With our material and production process being extremely consistent between different guitars, it’s sometimes fascinating to see how much a relatively small change like using a different material toneblock or bridge saddle can impact the overall tone of the guitar, same thing for pickups with all their nuances. We love expirementing with different types of materails for hardware and what not, it’s always a ton of fun to explore what kind of impact that has on the overall sound.

Your design reminds me of A. I. R. (Alternative Internal Resonance) design of Yamaha Guitars. At that design, the body consists of a lightweight core sandwiched between hard woods on top and back. Do you agree with that or am i completely wrong? :)

I can definitely see the simulairities and where you’re coming from, it’s great to see multiple companies trying out different materials and concepts for the manufacturing of instruments!

Does the metal of your guitars exoskeleton have any effect on the magnetic structure of the pickups? Do they any slight alteration on the inductance values maybe?

There is no metal in our guitars, we construct and exoskeleton consisting of carbon fibre and glassfibre, after which we insert our Arium core which is a mixture of several resins and microscophical glass bubbles.

Aristides Guitars

What? No way! :) I, somehow always thought your guitars has aluminium in the exoskeleton. Silly me and this is how i didn’t do my homework right! Anyway, How do you balance tradition with innovation in your instruments?

This is always something we find to be very important, while we’re not a traditional company with our use of alternative materials, our core business is simply to build amazing guitars. If you’d visit our factory you will see a nice balance between ‘the future’ (robotics and other solutions we use to improve our manufacturing process) and skilled luthiers sanding and working on the tiniest details by hand to achieve the best possible instruments.

How many guitars do you manufacture monthly? And how long does it take to bring an Aristides Guitar into life from the first step to final quality checkpoint?

We do about 600-700 custom made instruments a year currently, due to the extreme growth in demand for our guitars over the past few years our lead times are currently 6-9 months for a raw finishes guitar (unpainted) and 10-14 for a painted instrument.

Wooaw. Sounds awesome for your business :) What specific attributes or features make Aristides Guitars stand out from other guitar manufacturers? Why does a guitar player should buy one of your guitars?

Well, definitely the use of the Arium material makes us unique, like I said before our guitars are extremely resonant, consistent and have wonderful sustain due to the one piece construction they’re made of. Aside from that we take huge pride in our instruments and in the experience we offer our clients. We want people to be able to sit back and relax after they’ve ordered an instrument, knowing that we will take full responsibility building them the best possible instrument and doing whatever we can to get it in their hands asap. We pride ourselves in the fact that we have a very dedicated community of returning clients who trust us to build the instruments of their dreams.

How does your company approach customization for musicians seeking unique instruments?

Every Aristides is built to the specifications of the client, but there are some limitations. Due to the manufacturing process, we can’t offer custom shapes, neck profiles etc. But within those limitations we offer a ton of custom options in terms of hardware, electronics and finish/inlay choices. I can definitely recommend to scroll through the gallery page on our website to get a good idea on what’s possible!. :)

No custom neck profiles? Okay. Since neck profile is most of the times one of the most challanging spec of a guitar, i think readers who are unfamiliar with your guitars may like to know more of your neck profiles. Can you please describe us about your neck profiles?

We tried to create a neck profile that would be as ‘universal’ as possible, if I had to describe it I would describe it as a modern, slim C shape profile that’s very easy on the hands. You can find the exact dimensions on the product pages on our website

Which musicians or genres do you feel your guitars resonate with the most?

We’ve been most established in the more progressive, metal genres over the past year. Partly because this market is more acceptive of innovations in instruments, but also because our instruments simply work very well for this type of music. We sell a lot of 7, 8 and even 9 string guitars, Arium works very well in the low registers, which is also why we’re very excited for the upcoming basses!

In my opinion, the guitar market, generally speaking, is quite conservative, with a significant portion resisting change or even development. At least that's how a substantial part of it seems. You're serving to a more open-minded market, that's okay. But do you think you could also convince people from the other camp? Frankly, seeing an Aristides in the hands of an 60 years old uncle from Tennessee playing country/western with his good ole butterscotch blonde Telecaster would be fantastic :)

Haha yeah, I think it’s great to see that there’s an instrument for everyone out there. We don’t strive to be a company of choice for people who simply are looking for a 60’s strat or tele and everything that comes with such an instrument, but it’s great to see that more and more people are giving us a chance and that even includes more ‘traditional’ guitarists. Our T/0 tele style model has been doing very well with this crowd and we’re also very excited about our upcoming strat style guitar which we expect to have ready by the end of 2024!

Aristides Guitars

Exciting news. Which artists do you prefer to collaborate with, and how do these collaborations impact Aristides company?

We don’t actively search for artists to add to our roster, we truly believe in the power of word of mouth and try to let the quality of our instruments and customer service help us grow, with our customers speaking highly of us. We’re however very proud that some of these customers eventually turned into artists that play our guitars in studio and on stage, it’s extremely rewarding to see guys like Ihsahn (Emperor), Mike Stringer (Spiritbox), Devin Townsend among many others love and use our instruments actively.

Aristides Guitars

How do customer feedback and requests influence your product development process?

This plays a huge factor for us, we always like to say that our company was built by our customers and customer feedback has been vital to develop our model range and the options we offer. I don’t expect this to ever change.

Aristides Guitars

What kind of steps is your company taking towards sustainability and environmental friendliness?

We always try to create the least ammount of waste as possible during our production process, we’re fortunate that we don’t have to use woods in our instruments and can work extremely efficient during our process with the materials we use. Aside from that we’re working towards making our factory ‘more green’ with some improvements in terms of the use of energy and resources.

Are there any upcoming collaborations or projects that you're particularly excited about?

Yes! Aside from our multiscale basses, we’ve recently developed a multiscale version of the Evertune bridge and a multiscale tremolo (which we’ve developed with Hantug from Turkiye) for our S series line of guitars. We’ll be showing both these bridges to the world at NAMM 2024 this January!

I remember you worked with Hantug before but i didn’t knew your partnership still goes on. Good news for me because i use a guitar they made and some of their bridges on some of my guitars. Anyway, I know it is very personal hence i am asking this for you; what pickups do you prefer for your own Aristides?

This is indeed a very personal question, which is what I always answer clients with when they ask us for pickup suggestions. We work with amazing pickup manufactures (Bare Knuckle Pickups, Lundgren, Fishman, Seymour Duncan and EMG) and all of these companies are able to supply wonderful pickups for in our guitars, in the end it’s going to come down to people’s personal taste as to what would work best for them. Personally I’m currently a huge fan of the BKP VHII/Nailbomb combination and the Lundgren Black Heaven pickups!

Are there any plans for expanding your product line or venturing into different instrument categories?

Yes, like I said before we’re dropping our new basses shortly and after that we’ll see what will be next. Though I think guitars and basses will keep us busy for a while!!


What’s your most memorable moment with Aristides Guitars?

That’s a good question, there have been a lot of memorable moments, honestly each time a customer gets their custom guitar after a long build time and share their excitement with us I feel like a kid on Christmas morning!

What do you think the future holds for Aristides Guitars? There's an undeniable trend towards guitars made of  non-wood materials increasing right now. What about the future? How do you plan to adapt to changes in the guitar industry?

We will keep doing what we’re doing and hope to organically grow further over the next years, we’ll constantly try to innovate if we feel it adds to the quality of the instruments or helps to add options for our clients.

Lastly, how do you envision the future of Aristides Guitars in the music industry?

We’re very happy with the position in the market we’ve been able to grow into over the past decade and hope that by simply working hard to build amazing guitars, we’re able to strenghten our position and make wonderful instruments for guitarists around the globe for many years to come!

Thank you very much, Pascal. If I've been able to contribute even a little in introducing Aristedes Guitars, I'm glad. Thank you so much for your interest and sincere answers. Wishing success to Aristedes on their “Tone Journey” :)

Interview with Pascal Langelaar from Aristides Guitars

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