Above: A collection of Niwa necks. At left are a pau ferro fretboard and
Teuffel’s proprietary stainless-steel truss rod—which weighs only 1. 7 oz.
Below: Handpolished stainless-steel neck screws and matching threaded
inserts. Grooves for the inserts are precision cut into the neck cavity.
phenomenon of perception and try to find out about and improve
what is in the system—from magnets to wire. Because the look of
my guitars is so different, I don’t have to copy the look of old pickups. This gives me the freedom to work on my own sound nuances.
The Birdfish is named after two aluminum tone bars that support the main components. Your website says you used aluminum because it transfers vibrations without adding tonal coloration. Is it really possible for a part to have no effect on tone?
I just realized the translator of my website didn’t translate that part
correctly. You are absolutely right. Of course each single element and
material has an influence on the tone—the pick, the string, bridge,
timber, etc. Aluminum transduces the vibrations almost without a
filter influence. When I made the first prototypes, I experimented
with brass, steel, and different sorts of aluminum and hardwood. The
sound of the aluminum joint came extremely close to hardwood.
Since 1995, you’ve overhauled the Birdfish in four stages.
What are those stages?
The first Birdfishes had conventional pickups from Seymour
Duncan and DiMarzio that I molded into my own pickup shape.
The aluminum parts were sand-casted then, too. The next stage had
custom pickups, but I didn’t make them. In the next stage, I wound
my own pickups, and the aluminum parts were made in lost-wax
casting and were chrome plated. In the latest step, I cut the aluminum parts from aircraft grade aluminum. Also, the new adjustable
locking nut replaced the former Schaller/Steinberger string clamp.