Guitar

Breed Guitar Reconstruction

Although at first glance, the drawings and description of the guitar in George Breed's patent appear to be quite detailed, a closer examination shows that the patent conceals as much as it reveals. This is true of both the electrical circuitry and physical construction of the instrument. Recreating Breed's 1890 design has involved two distinct challenges: one, recreating the electrical configuration Of Breed's design and two, reconstructing the physical design of the guitar.

Guitar

John Hall, of Rickenbacker International Corporation has been instrumental in the decipherment and recreation of Breed's circuitry and electromagnet design. Dr Brian Flynn of the University of Edinburgh has also given great assistance in determining possible configurations of Breed's circuitry. Doug Kensrue, president of MK Products, Santa Ana, California has used his manufacturing expertise and resources in making a replica of the guitar's electromagnet, the key component of Breed's design.

Guitar

Part of the difficulty of reconstructing the physical aspect of Breed's design is that the guitar shown in the patent drawing, while at first appearing to be similar to a typical late 19th century American guitar, actually has several aspects to its design that are impossible, or at least highly unlikely.

Guitar

While the electrical elements shown in Breed's patent are relatively well detailed, the physical characteristics of Breed's guitar are, not surprisingly, decidedly less so. The representations in the patent of the headstock, neck-heel, and bridge have particularly improbable elements. However, this is not surprising since Breed's purpose was to patent the apparatus and circuitry of his invention rather than provide a blueprint for its construction.

Guitar

In reconstructive Organology it is typical practice to substitute or replace design elements that are impracticable or unknown, with ones from contemporaneous instruments. It should be emphasized that much consideration is given before such modifications are made. The goal is not to make an exact copy (since we don’t know exactly what the original was like), but historically accurate; that is, as much as possible, only using in the reconstruction those elements which the original maker would have had available to him or her.

Guitar

This is the case even when such choices are detrimental to the instrument’s functionality. For example, while recreating the electrical circuitry of the Breed guitar, it was discovered that adding a capacitor to the circuit greatly enhanced the instrument’s performance while at the same time reducing some of the guitar’s problems with overheating. Unfortunately Breed’s design predates the capacitor by some 30 years. While a modern capacitor would greatly increase the efficiency of the guitar, the objective is not to try to improve Breed’s design, but recreate it as faithfully as possible- warts and all.