The Ascender Standard is the latest in Ciari's collection of stage-quality, full-size professional electric guitars with patented folding technology. This folding electric guitar features a surf-forward, satin basswood body, "wave top" 3+3 headstock, natural-neck finish with ebony fingerboard, Ciari locking tuners, master tone and volume electronics with pick-up selector, and our back "throttle" actuator. Nick Jennison tells us more.
Close your eyes and think of the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words "travel guitar". It's probably not great, now is it? Maybe some short-scale atrocity with a body the shape of a half-sucked boiled sweet, frets that require stronger tetanus shots than the exotic location you're about to travel to and a tone that can charitably be described as "a sound".
Yes, these weird little guitar homunculi have been around for ages, but no serious player would be seen dead with one. Which is where Ciari Guitars come in. The Ascender is not a "travel guitar", as the Ciari guys are keen to point out, but a legitimate, pro-level instrument that just happens to fold in half and fit into a backpack. Yes, you read that right. It folds in half - with the strings on, and tuned to pitch. This is accomplished with some good old-fashioned mechanical engineering, and a complex-looking but very elegant set of levers and springs in the back of the guitar's body. It's wild to see, but what's even crazier is just how good the Ascender is as an instrument.
When I say "good", I don't mean "good for a folding guitar;" I mean "is an excellent guitar in its own right". It comes Plek'd from the factory, and plays like a dream. The mahogany neck is comfortable, finished in a very tactile satin and with a genuine ebony fretboard and 22 jumbo frets, perfectly level and with no chokes, buzz or sharp ends —even up in the dusty end where the guitar's "hinge" is. Speaking of which, the hinge mechanism, despite being a very substantial piece of metal, feels very natural under the hand. It isn't sharp, distracting or even particularly noticeable, especially after a few minutes of playing.
So it plays great...but what about the sound? Surely the small body size and the big hole in the back "kill the tone" or something like that, right? Nope. The Ascender sounds like a great humbucker guitar. Loaded with a pair of Seymour Duncan '59s, there's tons of vintage-voiced punch and clarity, with excellent touch sensitivity and an even response all across the neck. Of course, metal players may want to spec this guitar with hotter pickups, and Ciari is happy to accommodate, but the fact it sounds so "right" with vintage-voiced low output humbuckers is testament to how good the Ascender is.
So yes, it folds in half. But apart from that, the Ascender is a very traditional guitar, and a very good one at that. There's a traditional headstock. You can use standard strings, and don't need to cut the ball ends off. It even looks like a traditional guitar, especially from the front, where the only clue that it's a folding guitar is six tiny slots in the fretboard between the 11th and 12th frets.
The Ciari Ascender has pulled off something we've all been hoping for for years—it's a legitimate, pro-level instrument that's easy to travel with. Whether it's going in your suitcase or in the overhead locker on a long-haul flight, or on your back as you traverse a major city on foot/two wheels/public transport, it's an instrument that can go anywhere without compromise in tone or playability. If you're a musician who travels, you need one.
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