“Ever since I bought Uli’s Metamorphosis CD in 2004, I was intrigued by how Vivaldi’s music could be played on an electric guitar. Of course, most of my instruments only had 24 frets at the most, so I found it nearly impossible to play those pieces in the correct pitch. In 2008, I had a luthier produce two seven string guitars for me, one with 36 frets and one with 32 frets. I was anxious to attempt playing the music of Vivaldi, Bach, Paganini, etc, in their proper range and was unaware at the time that Uli would ever concede to producing Sky Guitars for anyone to acquire. Much in the way Uli did in his journey of almost 30 years in the development and metamorphosis of the Sky Guitar, I did the same in my journey to have an instrument that could reach a higher sonic plateau. My initial attempts did not produce a guitar with the sound I wanted nor the feel or the clarity of each note. They did however give me the ability to play in a high octave and prepare myself for what I never expected to finally come into reality.
Then one day the announcement came, 50 Sky Guitars would be made for a very few people that could afford them. I was a bit envious at first, actually seeing two of my Sky Academy classmates receive the very first Sky Guitars directly from Uli once they were finished. I thought, I’ll never have enough money to buy one and by the time I do have enough money, there won’t be any more left for sale. I kind of kicked myself for spending the money building the other two instruments. Then I just put the idea out of my mind for a few years.
Sometime in 2016, I was able to scrape up enough money to buy a Sky Guitar, however, I felt there were none to be found. I contacted Elliott Rubinson, who was very kind and he called around every vendor that he had supplied with a Sky Guitar. After about a week Elliott called me and said, “I can only find a black one is that okay?” I said, “I’ll take it and wired out the cash.” It was shipped to my mom’s house in Los Angeles but I lived in China, how do I get it here without paying extra shipping and very high VAT taxes and duties? As my wife needed to visit the states to take care of a matter, I talked her into bringing it back for me.
The Sky Guitar was finally in my hands. What a journey the guitar itself had made just to get to Beijing. Its name is “Panther Sky” and it is the only one in China. The first thing I noticed compared to my other extended fret instruments that I had commissioned, it just felt so much more comfortable in terms of weight, balance, and how it hugged against my body. It is very sleek, like a panther. I played a couple of Vivaldi pieces on it initially. Wow! So much easier to play than my other guitars even with the scalloped frets. And the actual hand vibrato you can achieve with your fingers on the scalloped fret board is mind boggling! Because the Sky Guitar is a neck through the body design it is effortless to slide your hand all the way up to those very high frets. Something which was more difficult on my other two guitars, as there is a point where the neck joins the body, at that point your thumb must move off the back of the neck and float freely in order to get up to those notes. Quite awkward! The tremolo bar is phenomenal! I have many Floyd Rose units on various instruments and in comparison the tremolo on the Sky Guitar is much more sensitive and emotional. I just love it! Finally, I plugged her in. I had to try Panther Sky through different amps as it isn’t well suited to every kind of amplifier. I had a Marshall VFM and an old Peavey 5150 Van Halen Combo amp here in Beijing. The Sky Guitar got along well with the Peavey, but not the Marshall. I think because the Peavey had a more clean and straight-forward sound it worked better. The Marshall was just too harsh and gritty sounding for this application. But on a Marshall Modern it would sound great! Once I figured which amp to use I turned down the pre-amp gain and volume on the amp, I began to play with the Sky Guitar’s own pre-amp and EQ knobs. Holy Moley! Just turning the pre-amp knob up a notch was killer! A little bit more it was deadly! It is very loud, like a thunder clap! Then I dialled in the 3 EQ knobs. The sound just was magnificent! There is also a toggle switch enables you to switch between a Gibson sound or a Fender sound. That is like the cream cheese frosting on the cake, the best of both worlds. Lastly, I would like to mention the blue lights up the side of the neck. Pure genius on that feature, especially for us in our twilight years and our eyes fading fast. Thanks Uli for finally making it available to those of us who were fortunate enough to receive one. And a special thanks to Elliott Rubinson, who unfortunately passed away recently. He selflessly helped me find maybe one of the last Sky Guitars of the first Limited Edition out there.”
Kent Niepert, Bejing, China