Each Rice instrument is the result of careful planning and many hours of diligent handwork. These are not banged out in a factory environment, but carefully built from scratch by two musicians who have a cohesive viewpoint on what an instrument should be, how it should feel in hand, how it should sound. A finely crafted instrument becomes a long term companion, and the more time spent with it will reward the player in many ways. Some can be easily described, some cannot. Let it suffice to state that knowing the feel, sound, and settings become so natural over time that the player will not even realize his/her minor adjustments. It becomes a seamless extension of one’s self, and provides a flawless conduit from the sounds in one’s imagination to the listener’s ears.
Every aspect of the instrument has been carefully thought out, refined, and made to perform optimally. The options available are endless, but the core instruments have been brought into the most efficient combinations of equipment in order to maintain simplicity of control, a wide variety of useful sounds that are easily accessible, comfortable locations of the controls, and a great balance between the tones. Each setting is different, yet maintains the sonic characteristics common to that particular instrument. In short, they have a wide palette of sounds available which still sound like the same instrument.
This is achieved by careful selection of timbers, hardware, construction methods, and matching the electronics to a given instrument. Optimizing the tonal characteristics of an instrument is done by ear, and many hours go into each one to achieve the desired result. It is not uncommon to complete an instrument, test it, then go back and change settings or components in order unbridle its full potential. There’s nothing we dislike more than one-trick ponies. Full, useful sounds with a wide range of timbres are more fun to play, and allow the player to dial in precisely the sound he wants for a given passage or chordal array. Clarity and responsiveness to both picking and fretting provide an excellent platform to show off the hard work the player has invested to improve playing technique. These are honest guitars that let the subtleties shine through a mix, or stand solidly on their own when playing solo.
Once the guitars have been completed, both of us play each one for a time in order to assess its qualities, and to allow the components to begin working in concert. As they are “played in”, all the parts of the instrument settle into their new configuration and the sound begins to open up. The guitars are no longer bits and pieces, rather they need to adjust to working together as a singular unit. The argument that your sound is “just the pickups” flies out the window in reality. The pickups are a key component, but every component impacts the performance to some extent. The proof is when we have moved a set of pickups from one instrument to another- resulting in a completely different response. There are too many factors involved to try to explain this in a blog post, but the construction, materials, and hardware all play a part in the overall performance. Interestingly, each guitar is so responsive that it sounds different in each players’ hands. When the right guitar gets in your hands, it picks you- not the other way around. 😉