**Matt Olivo is the founding guitarist of extreme metal trailblazers Repulsion, whose Horrified LP ranks as Decibel's #1 grindcore album of all time. Because we know that every reader ever plays guitar, we brought his print column to the Deciblog. In issue #107, Matt noodled out on Ron Thal's DoubleBfoot by Vigier.
Way-beyond-far-out shredder Ron Thal—a.k.a. “Bumblefoot” of Guns N’ Roses (v 2.0)—has teamed up with French guitar wizard Vigier to create a truly original work of modern guitar design. It’s called the DoubleBfoot. Put on your Spock ears and check out this futuristic double-neck demon.
Look and Features
The flat-black, satin-finished, naturally-aged alder body shape is reminiscent of a Gibson SG with longer, offset cutaways—the main differences being the width and a beautifully carved crested point to the center rear of the body. The fretless (upper) neck protrudes in a slightly upward angle, no doubt to add ample shredder-rific wrist-positioning space. Both necks’ shape profiles are slim, rounded Ds that have just enough girth to grab for bends; but they don’t impose speed limits for hyper-shredding.
The chrome-like, fretless fingerboard is made of industrial strength “iMetal.” This neck has a fully adjustable fixed bridge with strings through the body. The fretted (lower) neck has 24 medium-size frets, a rosewood fingerboard with the same neck profile and radius as the fretless, plus a Vigier-branded Floyd Rose Tremolo bridge unit that features a re-engineered bearings-based fulcrum pivot and locking nut.
Additionally, both bolt-on necks are comprised of Vigier’s ingenious 10/90 (10% carbon, 90% maple wood) composite design—for superior stability without compromising wood tone—and stay in tune with three-on-a-side Vigier-brand tuners. Both also share a Dimarzio Tone Zone pickup in the bridge position and a single coil-sized, double-bladed, hum-canceling Dimarzio Chopper in the neck. Accessories include an onboard thimble, which sits in a dedicated niche on the lower cutaway, held in by a magnet. When the mood strikes, plunge your pinky into the niche, removing the thimble, then use it to tap or slide above the frets, effectively extending your range of guitar licks into the realm of dog hearing.
Sound and Playability
The DoubleBfoot has an impressive array of modern and traditional features, but the bottom line with any axe is its ability to rock the fuck out. Gearified plugged this mechanized monstrosity into our no-bull 100-watt Marshall JCM 800 head and 4 x 12 cabinet for a test run. First up, the fretted neck bridge pup: Due to the neck profile and board radius, rock and metal rhythm playing are quite (fretting) finger-friendly. We thoroughly enjoyed a tasty midrange punch and focused lows. Crunch is particularly articulate and well-balanced. Full chords and open string strikes have the dynamic range and intonation stability you’d expect from a pro instrument. Shredding leads high on the neck feels comfortable enough, and tone-wise we’re treading in the rock zone with tight, mid-range articulation and bends that wail and scream. The neck pup shines brightly with a tasteful vibe picture-perfect for modern shred departures, as well as rowdy rock and blues.
Next up the fretless neck bridge pup. The neck shape is, of course, the same, but the lack of frets takes some getting used to. Intonation and vibrato have to be re-approached because it’s essentially a large violin fingerboard. Staying in tune is achieved by positioning the finger tip on the exact spot on the neck for the desired note. Fret position markers aid greatly in this task. Vibrato is executed by lateral finger movement versus slight, oscillating string bends on a conventional neck. Small movements produce a modest vibrato and wider movements create very dramatic, warbling waves of vibrato. Brilliant overtones revealed themselves with vibrato and glissandos (gliding up or down in pitch). After a bit of noodling, we became more at home, but make no mistake—fretless technique will require lots of practice to master.
Ron Thal’s DoubleBfoot is as eccentric as the man himself, but Vigier has once again asserted their mastery of design and execution. This beast is for seriously advanced musicians who are ready to explore the limits of rock/metal music creation and beyond.
For more info on this and other Vigier instruments, head over to vigierguitars.com.