Archives for Ragnarok

Ragnarok Inspiration


I remember when Grunges bastard child ‘Nu-metal’ came on the scene in the mid-90’s; the guitar riff’s suddenly sounded much heavier and darker somehow. I was actually more interested in the Hip-hop integration with Metal at the time musically, and it took me a while to get into the new guitar sound. I just assumed it was some production effect on the guitars that gave the heavy tone and it wasn’t until I was reading one of my Brother Lee’s Powerplay magazines that I noticed the guitarists in Korn had 7-stringed instruments. I knew Steve Vai played a 7-stringer, but I’d never associated the instrument with heavy riffage, which made it more appealing to me as I thought it was very reminiscent of Cliff Burton’s sound during his bass solos.

It is around this time I started playing guitar again (after a very brief ‘strumming’ period aged around 9 years old). I would write to guitar manufacturers like Ibanez, Jackson, Gibson etc. to request their catalogues so that I could see the latest guitar ranges and specifications. We didn’t have a home PC at the time, so I would have to sneak onto the guitar websites in between (and during) lessons at college. It was very difficult to find information about latest guitars and Rotherham didn’t have a very comprehensive guitar shop, so this was the only way I could stay up to date. The Ibanez catalogue had good images and specifications of the signature models for Munky and Head of Korn, which both had 7 strings and featured locking tremolos.
I wanted one desperately even though I didn’t know what to do with just 6 strings at the time and I couldn’t afford or justify a 7-string guitar.

Ragnarok will finally fulfil my adolescent dreams of a owning and playing a carved top Les Paul style 7-stringer; it will be very difficult to part with it at the end.

Deep Purple

I have toyed with the idea of an all-black finish for this guitar, but being inspired by artists like John Martin, Frank Frazetta and John Howe, I would like to try and attain an Armageddon storm cloud type of finish for the body. Primarily dark purple, I want to incorporate some hints of white and blood-red as an underlying highlight. Currently the idea is to have a tight-grained Wenge body with a book matched flame-Maple cap. I intend to grain fill certain areas of the flamed figuring with red-dyed grain filler, emulating fissures in a volcano. This will contrast quite strongly with the white-grain filler towards the centre of the body (see the concept post for Ragnarok), so I need to plan carefully to ensure some degree of subtlty here. The red flamed grain will flare out towards the outer rims of the body, and will be mostly tempered underneath the black finish surroundings of the ‘sunburst’.

A deep purple trans-finish will then cover everything and hopefully give the intended ‘brewing storm’ effect. There are a few different aspects where I will draw inspiration from for the dark purple finish and red highlights; some are pretty tenuous but this is what my mind sees (see below):

The Ragnarok Concept

Following the completion of Huginn, as always my projects come in pairs to keep myself busy (like the Sith: ‘No more. No less’), so along with the Green Man I intend to base a guitar on a Nordic theme again: Ragnarok – the death of the Gods.

'The Great Day of His Wrath', John Martin 1853

‘The Great Day of His Wrath’, John Martin 1853

In Norse mythology, Raganarok (‘Fate of the Gods’) will be the final battle that occurs on the Vigrid Plain following three years of Winter. Ragnarok is prophesised and Odin will try in vain to avert it’s coming, but ultimately he will be devoured by the great wolf Fenrir. All the fallen warriors in Valhalla will rise once more and fight in the battle to end all battles.

'Tyr and Fenrir', John Bauer 1911

‘Tyr and Fenrir’, John Bauer 1911

My first 7 string build to date; at this moment in time I plan to do a little research into some on-board effects for the guitar also like high gain or tonal boosts to increase the array of possibilities native to the instrument. Coil splitting will be included with the single humbucker configuration and a fixed bridge setup.

White Grain Filler

White Grain Filler

The inevitability of this prophesised ‘end of days’ conjures images of a brewing storm on the horizon. I am using this influence for choosing the finish of the guitar. In this case I am thinking of a Blood red/Deep Purple sun-burst fading into black towards the outside edges of the body. As Ragnarok is prophesised to follow three years of winter, and include the world devouring Frost Giants as major contributors in the battle, I think it would be good acknowledge the cold in some way. I am thinking a white grain filler to emphasise the wood grain as an ice white highlight running through the design. Like fissures in the doom.

With regard to inlays; I have seen some brilliant examples of Nordic design in the British Museum a few months ago which will be a very good starter for inspiration.  The fretboard will be very wide, so there will be plenty of space for a decent design reaching up to the headstock.



Odin with Muninn & Huginn, Alan Lee

Odin with Muninn & Huginn, Alan Lee

For the headstock I think a ‘Valknut’ symbol would be apt. A Valknut is an interlocked motif of three triangles and represents slain warriors. They have been found on many Norse stone carvings with funery motifs, and represent a slain warrior or mark the wearer as willing to be sacrificed by Odin himself.

As this is a 7-stringer, I will need to give a little thought to the headstock design as I intend to use a balanced split of machine heads. So in other words not all in a row like Fender and some Ibanez, but split either side like Gibson and Gretch. This means it will have an asymmetry of 4×3 machine heads. So I plan to research some Nordic spearhead designs in tribute of Gungnir, Odin’s weapon.
A broken spear-tip would allow the off-set design I require, much like the ESP headstocks in the Ltd range.

This guitar needs to be awesome in every aspect. It must look and sound capable of committing deicide.