Etavonni GT-1

Expermenting With Wood Alternatives Has Thrilled Progressive builders for decades—an activity that has certainly been intensified by the current trend of “thinking green.” One of the latest—and most expensive— non-wood-based instruments is the Etavonni (“innovate” spelled backwards) GT-1. Born from a company that makes high-end racing-bike frames, the GT-1 promises all of the juicy, dream-weaver longing afforded Bentleys, Patek Philippe watches, and other conspicuously consumer goods profiled in the Robb Report.
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From a distance, the chambered GT-1 looks Grand Prix cool with its satin-red finish, chrome hardware, and trio of textured carbon-fiber plates. Closer inspection reveals the plates are not precisely fitted, resulting in some rough edges between the red aluminum and the carbon material. In addition, the nut edges are sharp, and the Volume and Tone knobs wobble excessively. Conversely, the back of the GT-1 is near perfect, with a flawlessly secured carbon backplate and a super-tight, four-bolt neck assembly. The ebony fretboard is a thing of beauty, but some of the fret ends are a tad ragged. One final, admittedly uber-subjective comment regards the industrial design’s “homage” to a certain seminal single-coil guitar. Innovation? Not on this point.

However, the GT-1’s playability is absolutely dreamy. I instantly fell in love with the wide, thick neck and comfy setup. Whether bashing out chords, digging into riffs, phrasing melodies, or attempting some shred fusillades, the GT-1 practically “cheerleads” every gesture, making me feel as if I could play almost anything. It’s a real confidence builder, this baby, and its near-effortless playability also makes it a tremendously seductive musical partner. But, like Marilyn Monroe in her “get-Peter- Lawford-to-bail-out-the-Kennedys” craziness, this beauty has a flaw: The high-E string easily slips off the fretboard in all positions, making it treacherous to voice open chords, single-note lines, and melodic fills involving the first string.

The GT-1 has an incredibly lively acoustic sound— I even miked it up for a faux-acoustic part on a track— and its shimmer is retained when plugged into an amp. My favorite tone is the neck/single-coil position, which uncorks a resonant pop that’s simultaneously chunky and punchy. The humbucker/bridge position delivers an edgy midrange that’s nicely aggro, as well. However, the humbucker is so much louder than the single-coil that you almost get a lead boost when switching from neck to bridge, and the combined- pickup position sounds bright and strident. I’m a bit torn on the GT-1, as I applaud design hybrids and tonal alternatives, and, as a work of pure technological art, the GT-1 is indeed noteworthy. Yet, from the perspective of a working guitarist—even a well-heeled one—it fails to deliver enough sonic and ergonomic innovation for its $6,699 price tag. Furthermore, if I pay a stiff tariff, I don’t want to have any quibbles with finish, hardware, setup, or sound. The GT-1 could be a truly kick-ass, futuristic guitar. But that day is in the future.

Etavonni, (877) 423-8286; MODEL GT-1
PRICE $10,000 retail/ $6,699 direct
NECK Carbon fiber, bolt-on
FRETBOARD 25.5"-scale ebony
FRETS 22 jumbo
BODY CNC-machined, aircraft-grade anodized aluminum; carbon-fiber top and bottom plates
PICKUPS Seymour Duncan Custom Custom (bridge), Seymour Duncan Hot Stack (neck)
CONTROLS Volume, Tone, 5-way pickup selector
BRIDGE Hipshot hardtail (Wilkinson Gotoh tremolo is optional)
TUNERS Planet Waves Auto-Trim locking
EXTRAS Pro Stage Gear
ATA flight case with rollers
FACTORYSTRINGS GHS Boomers, .010-.046
WEIGHT 8.12 lbs
KUDOS Brownie points for alternate materials. Sweet playability. Fat neck-pickup tone.
CONCERNS Value. E-string slippage. Unbalanced pickups.