In the Peck Grain Building behind the fire station in Warren, Bill Paukert is making electric guitars.
“Most Telecasters are made out of solid wood, usually alder or ash,” he tells me about Fender’s iconic guitar as shows me The Maven, one of his three finished Unified Guitar Works prototypes. It’s been two years since he began to design the instruments, subject his concepts to rigorous testing, modifications and, finally, fabrication and sale.
Bill’s guitars aren’t solid wood, but partially chambered. They’re also crafted from bamboo, with aluminum front and back plates. “I love wood and metal together,” he says, “It’s timeless. I think it’s classic.” Beyond surface aesthetics, those elements each contribute greatly to the sound, with the cool precision of the metal and the warmth and extra resonance of the partially chambered wood combining to give each of his guitars their unique sonic quality.
The three models use the design and hardware of iconic guitars as a jumping off point for Bill’s own aesthetic and technical tweaks. There’s the Maven, whose body is most reminiscent of Fender’s Telecaster, and the Arbiter, which resembles a Les Paul Junior. But the Zephyr, which borrows from Fender’s Jazzmaster and Jaguar series guitars, has potential to be a real monster. The Jazzmaster and the Jag, according to Bill, were known for their galaxy of electronic configurations. In honoring that tradition, he made sure that the Zephyr’s hardware reflected that electric eccentricity.
Though they all share DNA with famous axes, it’s the bold statement made by the shiny aluminum combined with the deep, natural beauty of stained bamboo that Bill hopes will make his Unified guitars stand out – they will, they’re gorgeous – and stand together.
“You start to get a line look. It starts to establish an identity. When you see them all together you think, ‘That’s a Unified guitar, man!’”