Hello and welcome! Who is this "Jonathan Wilson" guy you ask? Let me see if I can shed some light on this for you...
Some twenty eight years ago I was just a kid in a Connecticut boarding school who ditched sports and obsessively played guitar in a chicken coop. Fluorescent lights, white study cubicles, meaningless "high math" problems and "Walden Pond" were all a huge mismatch for me. Instead, I studied my preferred text book "Guitar Player magazine" and pondered possibilities of creating bowed sounds with my 1978 Fender Stratocaster & hot-rodded Twin Reverb. After all, I read about Lol Crème and his Gizmotron. Completely oblivious to Jimmy Page's bow exploits, I was drawn to "Manual" guitar effects such as volume knob swells, Quarter bowing/slide tricks, and endless feedback a la Jimi Hendrix. Then, one summer vacation in California 1982 (or was it 1983?), things were about to change. My tastes were drifting from Lynyrd Skynyrd to a German Rock band called "The Scorpions" who's tasty guitar work and sound really drew me in. Out of curiosity, I went to a record store and noticed the 'Scorps had a history with an earlier guitarist named Ulrich Roth. Roth's fusion of Hendrixian Blues and Classical violin scale motif just plain blew me away. It was more than speed: it was the sheer melodic Beauty in his playing that drove me to tears and resonated in my soul. So, I wondered what Roth was up to "Post-Scorpions". Well, some research revealed that he had a (then new) album called "Beyond the Astral Skies" and a new instrument he designed called the "Sky Guitar" with a three octave range per string because he "preferred the violin range for melody". This influenced me on a few levels. On one hand, I was compelled to explore this violin music Roth was inspired by. (Paganini Concertos 1&2 by Yehudi Menuhin and Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" were thereafter played into the ground…). On another level, Uli's concept of creating an instrument to fit his vision and functional requirements completely inspired me. In early 1989, I was re-committed to the idea of creating a bowed guitar when I came across a paragraph in an old encyclopedia which described the "Arpeggione" (Bowed Guitar built by Johann Staufer in 1823). It was as if I was hit by lightening and my obsession was forever electrified...
Since those times, my hands have been constantly dirty from all of the years of research and development (blood, sweat and tears). Oh, sure, I have serviced thousands of guitars and violins in music stores over the years. (I might even be able to assemble and set-up a Strat while blindfolded…). On the other hand, I never would have dreamed that the Guitar Viols (which I initially created for my own musical exploits) have been used by several major film composers for blockbuster movies and TV projects. This is now my living and all I do. (Not bad for an otherwise diffident kid who preferred the Guitar over "Chaucer" and managed to avoid the honor roll at all costs…). But, my research and development does not stop or rest. With every instrument I build, I reach higher and higher. Whether it is a better pickup system for solid body bowed instruments or a better carved acoustic top, I am always chasing after "it." So, whether you are a major stringed instrument company who is interested in collaborative licensing ventures to advance your line, a composer who is chasing after new sounds, or an inspired musician who seeks another "cool tool" of expression, Let's talk! Glad to be of service.
GuitarViols Inc. - TogaMan Guitars
For general inquiries, media, consulting, licensing, speaking engagement proposals, book offers, recording session requests, would be apprentices, and well heeled (but painfully bored) "patron of the arts" zealots who are looking to co-produce an irresistibly compelling "musical instruments as living art" museum exhibition:
13408 Trego St.
Sylmar, Ca. 91342