Full details on their new signature models have finally been revealed
GiGS no. 467
Upon receiving the very first reports in last month’s issue that Imai & Hoshino’s new guitars have finally been completed, we immediately went to visit the two of them.
And what awaited us were the models that blended the paths they have carved out thus far together with their present modes.
This time, we bring you an interview about their newest equipment, along with another interview about their latest work, “No.0”.
So what are the guitar build techniques behind these two, who have spent 30 long years together, for eagerly-awaited new models in this upcoming tour? Let’s unravel them through the words of these two men.
New models loaded with the two men’s current concepts
First, let’s check out every nook and cranny of the new models. Both Imai’s “Maimai”, rigged in a new form, and Hoshino’s model, which possesses the element of surprise, will grab your attention!
IMAI HISASHI MODEL GUSTAVE
A new model that has inherited the Maimai Shape, the most popular Imai model. Maimai is equipped with a passive humbucker, and finished with one side planing off, as if to border the body, and the other side with a fragment. With a body made of a maple top and a mahogany back, one can see that in terms of the specs, it follows much of the DAZZLER that was created in 2011.
Body: Maple Top, Selected Mahogany Back
Scale: 628mm [Medium]
Joint: Bolt On
Pickups: VooDoo HB 57’s x 2
Control: 2 Vol, 1 Tone, Mini Toggle Switch
Both the front and back PU are vintage type VooDoo HB 57’s. Creates strong low mid-range sounds and gorgeous harmonics.
The controls, which are also characterised by a drop around the knobs, consist of 2 Vol, 1 Tone, and a Mini Toggle Switch type PU selector.
The leopard print design on the body was handled by Shin, the same airbrush artist who produced the “Coffin Guitar” in the past.
A bolt-on joint with 4 bolts. The joint area was shaved off so as to improve performance in a higher position.
Here, we have a picture from the manufacturing stage before painting was done. It can be seen that Maimai’s iconic cutaway was exquisitely processed.
This is one of the pieces that were in the midst of being painted. The back of completed body is red in colour, however, this rare picture from the manufacturing process shows that the bottom still white at this point in time.
HOSHINO HIDEHIKO MODEL TXL-HH Custom
Hoshino, who has amassed a number of original shape models so far, has produced a TL style guitar, the first since his major debut. However, when one pays attention to the details like the PU installed and the extra long neck scale, one can see that instead of a traditional model, it is a guitar that is packed with a variety of ideas. Additionally, there is also a black version of this guitar.
Body: Light Ash
Scale: 666mm [Extra Long]
Joint: Bolt On
Pickups: TV Jones TV Classic CR [front], Lindy Fralin Broadcaster Bridge [rear]
Control: 1 Vol, 1 Tone, CRL 3-way Selector
The PUs are a set of TV Jones, the same as those used in Gretsch guitars, and a vintage type Lindy Fralin.
The controls are made up of simple specifications, with 1 Vol, 1 Tone, and a 3-way PU selector.
With the neck, he sought reverberating bass notes and a good pitch, and uses a 666mm extra-long-scale.
This is the body material before painting. After playing and comparing it with Alder wood, he has decided to use light Ash wood.
Incorporating opinions from the staff on guitar tech, he decided to equip medium jumbo type frets.
Imai and Hoshino talk about the concepts that went into their new signature models
From here on, we asked both Imai & Hoshino about their design aims for their new guitars.
Through their words, you’ll be able to feel their intentions, as guitarists who are still exploring evolution even as they celebrate their 30th anniversary since debut.
About Imai’s New Model
Reflecting his own sensibilities with both sound and looks
ーー While this looks like a new Maimai model, when we look at the specs, its a model that’s almost like a Dazzler, isn’t it.
Imai (I): Well that’s because it isn’t a single coil to begin with. Since it’s becoming a type with a spiral shape, I wanted to make it the newest version.
ーー And your pickup is a vintage type?
I: Since Maimai has a single coil, there’s no need to go with that either, and anyway, I wanted a slightly “thicker” sound too.
ーー When making this guitar, what was the one thing that Imai-san placed the most emphasis on?
I: For sure, the looks. If you were to describe all the previous Maimai’s till now as anime versions, you could say that I wanted to make this one the live-action version.
ーー With regards to the Maimai that’s almost a flat top, you’ve added a dip in the controls area and have had the outer periphery of the body shaved off, making it more three-dimensional. So what about the leopard print?
I: Somehow, when I woke up, it suddenly popped into my head that “this might be good”. Initially I was thinking about the stabiliser or something but I kept feeling like I wasn’t sure. In the midst of that, I thought of this, and it all clicked.
ーー What about the words “BRAVO TANGO” on the back of the neck?
I: With the ABCs, they can be specifically referred to in a way where B is “Bravo”, C is “Charlie” and so on. So if we switch B-T with that, it turns out to be “BRAVO TANGO”.
ーー I see. I believe that this guitar will be actively used from this tour onwards but do you have an image of which songs you’ll be using it for?
I: I haven’t decided yet but if we’re talking about songs from “No.0”, then I suppose “美醜LOVE (Bishuu LOVE)” and “GUSTAVE”.
About Hoshino’s New Model
The best sound quality with close attention paid to the smallest of details
ーー A TL style guitar is one that you used when you debuted, right?
Hoshino (H): Actually, I used a Telecaster quite a lot when it came to recording. Now, I don’t use it as often but there have been so many recent songs that are single-coil types that I’d think that 70 percent use Telecasters. So because of that, since it’s also our 30th anniversary, I thought it would be nice to come full circle and go back to the TL style.
ーー And in it, the first thing that catches your eye was the pickup.
H: I had tech listen in as I try out various ones, and in the end, this is what I went with.
ーーWhat was the direction that were you looking to take the character of your sound in?
H: Aside from the pickup, I also tried playing with a few different body materials to pick out the one that made the nicest sound to me but I did wonder if doing it like this would bring out it’s diversity. The front’s TV Jones creates a sound that’s like something in between a humbucker and a single-coil, while the rear pickup gives a slightly withered feeling. It gives the impression that it has a, perhaps, sharper, or rather a clearer sound, as compared to the SG style from before.
ーー You’ve also given it an extra long neck and bigger frets as part of its features.
H: These were also ideas that came from tech and the builders, but I’m glad that I gave it a go. Simply making the scale a little longer stabilises the pitch and the way the bass notes come out.
ーー The guitar has two colours, white and black, and a prototype of the black one has been used last year’s lives as well but for this tour and in future, what cases will this guitar be used in?
H: I think the white one might become the main guitar though. For the songs… I’ll probably use it for “薔薇色十字団 -Rosen Kreuzer- (Barairo Juujidan -Rosen Kreuzer-)” and such.
No.0’s guitar sound,
an overlap of both men’s images
Finally, we’ll have Imai and Hoshino talk about their latest work, No.0, from their perspectives as guitarists. Just like we have with their signature models, we will draw closer to the depths of the guitar sound produced by these two, who continue to gaze upon new visions.
「If there is something that hooks into me Anything can develop from it」
ーー In your latest production, when did you start to foresee “the kind of guitar I’ll play”?
H: That happens before making a new song. It’s like this when I make my demos, and it’s also the same when I receive Imai-san’s demos. Because everything that I need to do will be in it.
―― I’m driving into this a lot but, when you’re producing the song, at which point do the guitars come in?
H: The demo is made in the form of drums, bass, synth, then both guitars, but on the other hand, there are are also occasions when we write a song, starting with the guitars. Like, when the intro’s guitars surface first. This time, all 3 of the songs that I wrote had the guitar parts done first at the start.
I: I, too, have quite a number of songs that were written with the guitar parts first. There are times when I develop a song from a chord progression that I like, or from a riff, or from a melody, or from a rhythm.
―― That’s everything (lol).
I: Because if there’s something that hooks into me, anything can develop from it.
―― When you get into the mood of “well then, let’s write a song”, is that how it always goes?
I: The “well then, let’s write a song” thing is an action pattern that I hate though. The best scenario is when “ah, (an idea) sprang up!”. Anyway, it’s troublesome to start from nothing (lol). Well, the more I work on it, it’ll somehow work out. Maybe fiddle with the synth a bit, if I get a feeling or something I’d develop it from there and so on.
ーー Do you have something like a collection of ideas that you keep?
H: If I’m playing my guitar in the studio and something I like comes up, I will definitely record it.
I: In the past, LUNA SEA’s J (B) said to me, “I put recorders in the various rooms of my house and if I think of something I’ll immediately record it. It might’a be good for Imai-san to do that too”. So I bought around 3 recorders and tried doing that, and before you know it, I’m even recording things that makes me wonder “Huh, do I really need to record this?”.
ーー Because you can record everything at anytime.
I: I even recorded things that would normally feel embarrassed about (lol).
ーー At which stage do you decide on which equipment to use?
I: That depends. There are times when I’ve decided during the songwriting stage that “I’ll use this guitar for that”, yet there are also times when I haven’t made a decision even right before we start recording.
ーー If it comes to you right at the start, is it often a individualistic guitar that is chosen?
I: If I want the sound of a guitar that has a modulator built in it (POT), then that’s the only choice that I have, or if I’m looking for a soft and distorted sound then it’ll be the ES-335, and so on.
ーー Looking at the list of equipment that you’re using for your new work, unexpectedly, there’s quite a lot of orthodox equipment, isn’t there.
H: That’s right. From that we’d choose, like “if I want a single coil…” or “if I want a humbucker…” and such. I’d refer to the sound of my part in the demos that Imai-san made. And after that, I’d go to the recording studio and try playing a few. For example, even if it’s a single coil sound, I’ll have to work out which nuances I want to bring out.
ーー If it’s your own song, will Imai-kun come along as well?
I: Yes. If it’s a demo I made at home, I can’t really express things like whether it’s a single coil or a humbucker, or if it’s clean or distorted.
ーー The song “Barairo Juujidan -Rosen Kreuzer-”, that was written by Hide-kun (Hoshino) is a good number that shows the contrast between both of your guitars, isn’t it. It creates a situation where you can hear Hide-kun’s exemplar, clean sound on the right side, while on the left side, Imai-kun’s almost extremely noisy sound.
H: That song was made from having a Telecaster cutting and melding together with a distorted bass. In addition to that, I thought of having Imai-san playing freely, so I used arming and delays in the demo, then put in a guide of Imai-san’s part. But it’s just that I played it so fittingly that it’s impossible to copy, so in the end, I could only add in a guide that says “something like this” (lol).
I: The bridge* and the chorus are the parts that I have to play and it was put into the demo properly but the verse* was absolute bullshit so I did it that way as well (lol).
ーー Though I believe that there are times when you’ll have to pull though your own songs all on your own.
H: When Imai-san shuts himself up at home and can’t come out, then I’ll be like “All right then, I’ll play all of it” (lol). But recently we’ve been doing it through exchanges with each other.
ーー Through email?
I: No, I’d receive CDs. With those I’d attach handwritten tablatures.
ーー Whaaat, to that extent!
I: Looking at that, I can check and confirm, like “Ah, so in this part I’ll have to press like that”.
H: Though he’d add one more line to the staff notation, then draw the shapes of the fingers on it (lol). There are quite a lot of open chords so I figured those had to be conveyed properly.
ーー And for Hide-kun’s songs, it also appears that there are many that become difficult with chord name notation.
H: That’s right. Even I, myself, don’t know the chord names (lol).
ーー What about when it comes to the chords in Imai-kun’s songs?
I: I’ll play in front of him and show him.
H: That’ll be my musical score.
I: He’s a special guy.
H: With notations that only I can understand (lol).
ーー I would like to hear about you actual sound production too. For example, what is the mechanical sound right at the start of the album?
I: I think we processed the sound from the BOSS’ SY-300 (guitar synthesizer)?
ーー The SY-300 was also used in other songs, right.
I: That, unlike other guitar synths that require dedicated pickups, you can use it as if it was an effector. You can just press the shield, play the amp, and the sound of the synthesizer will be made. I thought that this sensation is interesting, so I used it in the end.
ーー The normal synths are also often used but what segregates it from the guitar sound?
H: The order has the synth coming in after the guitars, so it’s done in a way that makes sure that it doesn’t clash with the sound.
I: Though in “光の帝国 (Hikari no Teikoku)” and some others, we mixed and re-mixed them over and over to get that balance between the guitars and the synth, didn’t we.
ーー As usual, the beauty of the reverb from Hide-kun’s guitar stood out.
H: Though, that might also be affected by the blending of the reverb from the effector and the ringing in the room?
ーー During the interview from last month’s issue, Imai-kun touched on a characteristic of the new work that you referred to as “a sound that protrudes”.
I: I’m constantly conscious of a protruding sound, a foreign body sensation. This time, that naturally came out when writing the songs. Things that made me think, “huh, why did I play something like that?”. That was a strange feeling.
ーー So, going forward, you’ll be playing this sound live then.
H: For me, I suppose so, to some extent. As long as the atmosphere of the song is maintained, I think we’d have no problems at all with the live versions.
I: Like having the sound source play from the computer, then playing the sound anew live, right. Also, I think the guitar phrases for “Barairo Juujidan -Rosen Kreuzer-” changes everytime. Like today, I’ll play this part, or something (lol).
Scans Bad pics: Yoshiyuki