OBJECTS OF DESIRE: The Guitar Aficionado Ultimate Luxury Products Guide
Just what is “the ultimate”? Dictionaries posit a number of definitions, such as “the most remote in space or time” or “the last in a progression or series.” But it also casts “the ultimate” as “the best or most extreme of its kind,” and it is this description that holds sway over connoisseurs and aficionados of fine food, exquisite automobiles, exotic vacations, impeccable audio reproduction, and sartorial superiority.
For the one percent out there who can afford a 2017 Bugatti Chiron or a 160-acre ranch at Montana’s Yellowstone Club, an overarching feeling of exclusivity is certainly a key factor. But for most luxury-product enthusiasts, expert craftsmanship, daring innovation, and occasional outrageousness drives their purchases, whether it’s a remarkably well-constructed guitar cable, a soundbar built from the back of a Porsche 911 GT3, or a pedal straight out of a mad scientist’s laboratory. Whatever category you fit in, our Ultimate Luxury Products Guide has something for everyone.
Below, you can find the ultimate Guitar Gear, followed on subsequent pages by Home Audio, Cars and Motorcycles, and Attire.
ULTIMATE GUITAR GEAR
Gibson “Eden of Coronet” SG
Most guitars that command record-setting prices usually do so because of who played them. Last year, however, Gibson’s “Eden of Coronet” was crowned “the world’s most valuable guitar” by the Guinness Book of World Records the second it came off the luthier’s bench and before anyone so much as played an E chord on it. What accounts for this white SG’s two-million-dollar price tag? Almost the entire surface of the body’s top is covered in about 400 carats of diamonds, and more than three-and-a-half pounds of 18k white gold adorn the instrument. The “Eden of Coronet” is a three-way collaboration between musician-designer Mark Lui, Coronet jewelry designer Aaron Shum, and Gibson. Lui stated that he blinged out the SG to accentuate the feminine quality of the instrument. And the way we hear it, diamonds are still a girl’s best friend.
ULTIMATE EFFECT PEDAL
Z. Vex Candela Vibrophase
Zachary Vex, founder of and official mad scientist for Z. Vex Effects, has created some of the most out-there, brilliant, and brilliantly named guitar effects pedals over the past 20 years. But he’s outdone even himself with his $5,900 steam-punk stomp-box creation called the Candela Vibrophase. Give him this: Nobody else has a lock on the claim of making “the world’s first candle-powered guitar effects pedal.” That’s right—a single tea candle with a burning time of approximately five hours illuminates two solar cells that power a Stirling engine, which in turn drives a flywheel that spins an oscillating optical disc. Interrupted light sends tremolo through the Vibrophase, its intensity and speed controlled by a neodymium sphere magnet. If it’s all very Wile E. Coyote–sounding, we should stress that it does indeed work. According to Vex, it’s the first modulation effect “that makes the amp sound like it’s floating around spinning.” Given that the prototype recently displayed at the NAMM Show took 77 hours to build, don’t expect Candela Vibrophases to roll off the assembly line. But that gives you enough time to count your pennies.
ULTIMATE GUITAR CABLE
Morrow Audio Phoenix Guitar Cable
To many guitarists the idea of spending 700 bucks on a guitar cable might strike them as foolhardy. But think about it: You’ve already forked over thousands of dollars on that high-end guitar and probably several thousand more on a boutique amp. To paraphrase a famous saying, a signal chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so why compromise your first-class tone with a budget guitar cable? The Morrow Audio Phoenix cable is pro audio all the way, delivering “pure tone” via the finest conductor material around—two runs of shielded solid-core, insulated silver-coated copper wire—to provide the truest sound of your rig. Custom lengths are available, but the basic Phoenix cable is 12 feet and it comes with either a straight- or right-angle “silent” plug to avoid speaker damage when you unplug from a live amp.
ULTIMATE HOME AUDIO
Porsche Design 911 GT3 Soundbar
If you’ve always dreamed of looking at the back of your car while listening to your favorite tunes, the Porsche Design 911 GT3 Soundbar (priced at $3,500) is just for you. Consider it the ultimate conversation piece: An actual rear silencer and twin tailpipes from a 911 GT3 that’s been converted into a 2.1 virtual surround-system subwoofer boost. Measuring 29-by-11-by-12.5 inches and weighing approximately 42 pounds, the 200-watt speaker accepts audio from Bluetooth devices or one analog and two digital inputs. Other features include bass and treble controls, Dolby digital decoding, and a LipSync function for precise voice synchronization with video playback systems. The results are deep, low, and throaty—just what one would expect from a Porsche.
Transrotor Artus FMD Turntable
Whether you listen to Brahms or the Beatles, blues or Norwegian black metal, odds are you’re spinning a lot more vinyl than you did five years ago. At a cost of $132,000, the German-made Transrotor Artus FMD ranks as the most expensive turntable in the world. Described as “a Rolex built into a turntable,” it has an eye-catching, museum-worthy design, and it’s a hefty piece of equipment, too, tipping the scales at 485 pounds and measuring four feet high and five feet in circumference. Features include self-leveling “cardanic suspension,” a solid aluminum/acrylic body, free-magnet drive and platter weight, as well as three separate motors that keep discs from coming in contact with even the slightest vibration, ensuring the purest sonic experience around.
Ecosse Moto Works Founder’s Edition Titanium XX
So your buddy just loves to brag about his Ecosse Titanium Series RR motorbike–you know, the one that set him back $275,000. Fix his little red wagon but good with the new, beyond-spiffy Founder’s Edition Titanium XX. The final bike in the Denver-based company’s Heretic Series goes for a whopping $300,000, and it’s stocked with everything you could want in an upscale thrill ride: The bike’s titanium chassis is a thing of beauty that takes a team of elite machinists more than 1,280 hours to assemble. Its American V-twin supercharged and intercooled engine produces a stunning 225 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque at the rear wheel. Other features include a variable fuel-injection system with altitude compensation, fully adjustable Ohlins MotoGP-grade TTX fluted gas forks with titanium front axle, ISR custom radial brake system with carbon ceramic discs, and analog tachometer with a programmable LCD speedometer. Without a doubt, this bike is equally at home on the open road or inside a museum.
ULTIMATE SPORTS CAR
2017 Bugatti Chiron
Car enthusiasts pondered how French high-performance masters Bugatti could possibly top the world’s fastest auto in production, the Veyron. Now they have their answer: the Chiron. Design-wise, the vehicle borrows a few pages from the Vision Gran Turismo, but power-wise, the Chiron ups the ante on the Veyron with its quadruple-turbo 8.0-liter W-16 engine that unleashes 1,600 horsepower and in excess of 1,100 pound-feet of torque. Need some CGI-like acceleration? No problem: This four-wheel drive, seven-speed automatic takes off like a rocket, nailing 0–60 mph in two seconds flat, with a top speed estimated at 288 mph. As you might expect, all that car doesn’t come cheap, and the Chiron boasts a $2.5-million price tag. But just remember the words of Bugatti president Wolfgang Dürheimer: “We want to make the best significantly better.”
ULTIMATE OFF-ROAD VEHICLE
Mercedes-Benz Unimog U 4023 – U 5023
The Mercedes-Benz Unimog is best known as the off-road vehicle of choice for the German Army as well as an industrial-strength workhorse for many European emergency services. Normally designed for transporting road crews, hauling snowplows and tractors, fighting forest fires, and performing rescue missions in all kinds of the most unthinkably perilous conditions, the Unimog U 4023 and it’s bigger, badder brother, the U 5023, are also favored by off-road enthusiasts who prefer to drive up and down 45-degree inclines and through four-foot-deep streams instead of going around them. Getting a new Unimog in the United States is no small task, but it’s worth the effort and cost (prices start around $250,000) if you’re looking for the ultimate doomsday getaway vehicle. Power-wise, this badass beast is fired by a 5.1-liter, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine with 231 horsepower and 661 pound-feet of torque that allows for a top speed of 56 mph both forward and backward (should you need to reverse tracks in a hurry). The flexible ladder-type frame is no sissy: the U 5023 can handle a maximum axle payload of 14.5 tons, while the U 4023 can support a still-impressive 10.3 tons. A central tire inflation system even lets drivers instantly adjust optimum tire pressure for “road,” “sand,” and “bad road.” We’re guessing “bad road” to the Unimog involves flames, spikes, and seething hordes of the undead.
Ralph Lauren Purple Label Savile Row Cashmere Blazer
Looking for a timeless, classic way to “look sharp”? Whether paired with dress trousers or Ralph Lauren jeans, the Savile Row Cashmere Blazer from Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label collection ($4,695– $4,995) is perfect for just about any occasion. Available in royal navy, it’s made in Italy from luxurious, 100-percent cashmere and finished with genuine horn buttons. Other features include notched lapels, a two-button silhouette, a welt pocket at the left chest, and a vented back hem.
Alexander Amosu Bespoke Suits
If you’re dreaming of walking into that board meeting decked out in your Alexander Amosu Vanquish II bespoke suit (you know, the one you paid $100,000 for), you’re out of luck: Only one such suit, made from rare vicuña and qiviut and featuring nine 18-carat gold and diamond buttons, was created, and it was delivered to its buyer in an armored van. But that doesn’t mean you can’t commission the high-end British tailor to create your very own bespoke masterpiece. Amosu craftsmen first slip you into a “skeleton” suit, and once you choose your fabric, they meticulously assemble the garments to your exact specifications, personally delivering their work to you six weeks later. Expect to hear the phrase “it suits you” often.
This is an excerpt from the MAY/JUNE 2016 issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine. For this complete story and more photos, plus features on Beatles gear collectors, Guernsey’s 2016 guitar auction, Dave Mustaine and his Mustaine Vineyards wines, and Twisted Sister guitarist Eddie Ojeda and his new line of hot sauces and D’Angelico signature model guitar, pick up this issue online by clicking anywhere in this text.