Rogue Aluminator: Radical Design, Awesome Tone…and a Friendly Price!
When I first saw the Rogue Aluminator, I was more than a little surprised. I've played all kinds of guitars. From Heavyweight vintage models to cheesy fiberboard student guitars. I've played guitars made from space-age composites and ,aluminum-necked models that seem to bend under the hot lights. But I'd never even seen a guitar with an aluminum body, let alone played one.
The idea for the Rogue Aluminator was developed by the guitar gurus at Rogue. Their goal was anything but simple: to create a unique guitar that could deliver all the rich creamy tones you'd expect from a classic model and the raw capability to crank out big chunks of outrageous sonic sauce that were hotter and spicier than any vintage axe could possibly create. After experimenting with several wild wood body designs, the Guitar Summiteers started exploring other body materials. Some new body materials showed promise on paper, but when put to the on-stage tone test, they always came up short.
Why an aluminum body? The first time they tested an aluminum body, they knew they'd found something huge. For starters, the aluminum had the ability to sustain notes more than any solid-body guitar they'd ever heard. A guitar's wood body naturally absorbs a the strings vibrations - the harder, more dense the wood, the more sustain it delivered. But aluminum was more dense than any wood, and it seemed capable of holding a single note for an entire set, if necessary. Because the aluminum is so dense, it absorbs no sound, so you get much more natural attack than from a traditional wooden guitar. If you play soft ballads, this can be a drawback. But if you're playing crowded clubs and like to step out and thrash on special occasions, you'll use every ounce of the extra attack.
As every road warrior knows, a good axe can get pretty banged up sliding from gig to gig. I tattooed my guitars with at least a dozen nicks and scratches from belt buckles and wobbly guitar stands, and actually lost a big chunk of my favorite guitar's top trying to get out of a biker bar one night. There's nothing worse than tearing up a carved maple top that added three or four figures to the price of your guitar.
With the Aluminator, you don't have to worry about damaging your guitar's body. It's made with high-test aircraft aluminum, so anything short of a scud missile will go unnoticed. On the other hand, the Aluminator will always win a battle with any stage or studio gear, If Pete Townsend had one of these he would have blown a hole in the stage before he shattered its body.
Why all Me Holes? Aircraft aluminum is pretty heavyweight material. One of the biggest challenges of using such a body was reducing its weight so players could make it through a session without keeping a chiropractor on call. Besides making the instrument substantially lighter, the holes give the instrument its distinctive tecno look.
All The Tools You’d Expect to Find in a Custom Guitar The aluminum body is only part of the Aluminator's claim to fame. Before I plugged it in for a test flight, I was surprised by its weight. Even with holes, the Aluminator is no lightweight. As soon as I picked it up I knew I was holding a serious sonic weapon. The Aluminator comes equipped with a 25.5" maple neck that has a smooth, solid feel. The 22-fret rosewood fingerboard plays as fast as your fingers can fly. And a fixed- tailpiece bridge adds an extra dose of, sustain and stability, so you don't sail out of tune every time you pound a power chord. If you're into the tonal nuances good electronics can add to your music, you'll appreciate the Aluminator’s DiMarzio pick- ups. There are specially-designed DiMarzio single-coil pickups at the neck and middle position, and a custom DiMarzio humbucker at the bridge. Plus, three toggle switches located right beside the volume and tone controls allow you to dial in 11 different pickup configurations. The two switches closest to the neck are simple on/off switches for each of the single-coil pickups. The bottom 3-position toggle lets you choose either the full humbucker, bypass the humbucker, or select a single coil. By using the toggles in different positions, you can really tailor your sound much more than with a single 5- position switch.
Test flight Time Once the runway was cleared, I held my pick in the upright position and was ready to fire up the Aluminator's engines. I turned up my amp and prepared to test its sustaining ability. Yes, the singing chord I strummed seemed to hang in the air forever. If I didn't know better, I'd swear there was a sustain device hooked up inside, but the Aluminator does it on its own. Then I cranked it up and she started to roar with a driving, vicious attack. I pulled back a bit, adjusted the toggle for humbucker only, and there were the old-fashioned, rich, voluptuous tones of a vintage instrument. Another adjustment, and I was in the realm of some sweet, down-and-dirty blues sounds. Very nice.
It didn't take long to get spoiled by the extra sustain, additional attack, and radical look of the Aluminator. The maple neck and rosewood fingerboard felt just like they're supposed to: comfortable, firm and fast. The sounds are nothing less than awe- some. I don't know if it was the look or the sound of the Aluminator, but the first time I played it on stage, the audience really took notice. From now on, the Aluminator will be part of my stage rig.
By F. B. Bodine
Musician’s Friend: Spring 1998 Issue, p.22