When Union's new Taylor Music Building is completed this fall, campus guitarists will have the opportunity to reel off riffs, power chords and arpeggios on two stunning – and innovative – new acoustic guitars that have been donated to the music department.
Last month, Jeff Carano, chief operating officer for Jeff Babicz Guitars and father of Vincent Carano '07, presented two of his company's unique instruments to the College. Inspired by the story of the Taylor family donors featured in Union's Accolades magazine last year, the elder Carano wanted to make his own contribution to the arts program at Union.
The guitars will available for students and faculty who would like to take a lesson or to spend some time strumming in the practice rooms, said Associate Professor of Music Tim Olsen.
The Babicz line, founded by Carano and luthier Jeff Babicz in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in 2003, has been making headlines for its revolutionary technology in the often traditional world of acoustic guitars.
Its trademark is the visually striking fan of strings below the bridge, which increases the resonance and durability of the instrument.
The guitars also feature an adjustable neck joint that allows musicians to raise and lower string height.
“They're unique,” said Olsen. “The bridge is moveable and adjustable, you can move the neck back and forth for certain kinds of picking, and with the fanned strings, the tension is spread out across the entire top of the guitar.”
In many ways, the company is bringing technology more often associated with electric guitars to the acoustic or acoustic-electric realm. Rockers are taking notice, with Todd Rundgren, Pat Travers and K.K. Dowling from Judas Priest a few of the string-bending legends that play the Babicz line.
“It's been really great getting to talk with these established artists at backstage events or at national guitar shows,” says Vincent Carano, an experienced guitarist himself who is currently trying to put together a band at Union.
“We've gotten some excellent feedback from players in genres ranging from folk to heavy metal, and almost everyone we talk to is fascinated by the design,” he added.
Several leading guitar magazines also been raving about Babicz guitars for their quality, versatile tone and innovation. The February 2006 “Guitar World Acoustic” gave its Gold Award for Overall Value to the Babicz Identity Series Spider-06E.
For Professor of Music Hilary Tann, who has taught Vincent a sequence of music theory courses, the Babicz guitars' new look is in perfect harmony with Union's new arts building, soon to be a reality. Thanks to several gifts, including $1.5 million from James W. Taylor '66 and John W. Taylor '74, North Colonnade is being transformed into a premier music facility.
“It is rare in this day and age to combine new technology with real imagination and apply it to music,” says Tann. “These guitars represent a marriage of beauty and function and the design is a real advancement in this direction. You have to wonder, if we can rethink an acoustic guitar, what else can we rethink?”