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Guitar Art

Lafayette resident Paul Schmidt creates beautiful guitars too pretty to smash, no matter how hard you rock out.


Nicholas Alan Cope

A collectible guitar is often one that you can’t play anymore; think of the Fender Strat Jimi Hendrix set aflame at the Monterey Pop Festival, or every guitar Pete Townshend ever played (and smashed). But Lafayette’s Paul Schmidt has created a series of axes that can be hung on your wall or plugged into your amp.

Schmidt, a guitar teacher, author, and music scholar who once ran the educational component at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, worked with luthier Michael Spalt to create the Noveau Series: 13 gorgeous guitars with designs that incorporate Tiffany glass, lithographs by Alphonse Mucha and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and other hallmarks of Art Nouveau work.

While curating a music exhibit at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Schmidt encountered Spalt’s guitars. “I thought, What if we stuck some art in those, and the whole architecture of the instrument—shape and everything about it—had this Nouveau vibe?” Schmidt says.

The Nouveau instruments go on display at the National Association of Music Merchants Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad from October to January. They’re also available for purchase, but if you do plunk down the $22,000 asking price, you may want to keep your wannabe guitar god teenage son from playing it with his teeth.

For information, visit artofmusicinstruments.com

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