Relationships between musicians and their instruments are peculiar, marked by ardour, sensuality and love/hate-complexities and often to the dismay of their lovers in the flesh – think of B.B. King fondly calling his guitars by the name of Lucille.
Manfred Gernert now brings this intimacy to a whole new level. The 52-year old from Würzburg is producing hand-made classical instruments such as contra basses – though his approach to the craft is anything but classy.
“My customers can send me pictures of their women or girlfriends, we then give the instruments unique designs according to the pictures”, said Gernert.
The GEOMEGA Music Instruments website shows examples like an electrical double bass with a naked women's back airbrushed on its body and the fingerboard running along its spine.
To those that would prefer a male's back over a woman's on their strings: the two artists would also be open to such a request, though no one has yet asked for that kind of job.
But the artists are open to any type of design, and have also created a guitar shaped like the African continent.
Moreover, their arousing looks aren't the only thing that's unusual about Gernert's instruments. They are electrical and their frames are made of synthetic material. Only on this surface is airbrush artist Meinrad Froschin able to finish them off with his distinct design.
Gernert's innovation is driven by his wish to “give something new to the world of music.”
Nonetheless, beauty has its price: an instrument made by GEOMEGA costs around €3,500 as opposed to the €500 an equivalent acoustic one would cost. And that's not including the airbrush.
And German musicians also have mixed feelings about the new trend.
Claus Coxx, part of the Lennerockers group from northern Germany has played one of Gernert's contra basses and he is still sceptical because he “likes the classic version made of wood better, without the electronic stuff.”
Berlin Troubadours' Carsten Schiewack on the other hand thinks that “the instruments sound really good. It's great to be able to give the instrument a design that you like.”