Bamboo Guitars At Empire

Somebody notify Panda Bear. Walking into Empire Guitars always makes me happy, but who knew it would be so Christmas-y . . . just makes me like these guys all the more. Seen here is manager Michael Samos with The Zephyr, one of the three new bamboo and aluminum guitars from Unified Guitar Works, a company right here in Warren, Rhode Island. The guitars have a bamboo core capped by aluminum on both sides. (See pic below.)

The man behind these guitars is Bill Paukert, another Hasbro alum!

After fifteen years as an industrial designer at Hasbro Toys, designing everything from Transformers to Star Wars, Playskool, Play-Doh and Sit ‘n Spin toys, Bill Paukert decided it was time to take his music hobby full time.

Having moved here from Cleveland, and with woodworking skills inherited from his father, Paukert played in bands and began building his own guitars, speaker cabinets, etc., and happened to move into an apartment next to the great archtop guitar building guru, Otto D’Ambrosio. Ten years later, Bill began work on the first of the three guitar designs to be released as Unified Guitar Works, officially launching the company last March.

Samos pointed out that this is not a niche, made-to-order, guitar (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but that these are coming off a production line right here in Rhode Island! So check out the demo videos, they kick off with a nice bit of Thin Lizzy . . . and that is the extent of my expertise in this area. And the Zephyr has a whammy bar. There, I know two things. (Technical info is included in the videos.)

Michael Samos is also a multi-talented musician — guitar, lap steel guitar, dobro, probably more — with extensive roots in the local scene, having played in the Silks and Brown Bird. His latest project is Geraldine who just debuted at the Columbus in October. I caught this show and the band kicks significant ass, good songwriting. Frontman Brian Webb has lots of personality. Samos knows how to play a guitar. I will see them again.

Empire Guitars, 1271 North Main Street (entrance up on side of building), 1.877.55.TWANG, (directions)

Unified Guitar Works

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