Rocking the Guitar World

Electric Guitar

Client:     RKS Guitars

Awards:     IDEA — “Pop” Series (Silver, 2005), Open Architecture guitar (Silver, 2005); GOOD Design— Wave Guitar (2007), “Pop” Series Guitar (2005); CoCreate — Karma Sutra Guitar (2007)

A f***ing impressive device, old boy. It sounds great!! Ronnie’s rocking too!!
— Keith Richards, Guitarist for The Rolling Stones

Create a Guitar that Enhances on the Traditional Guitar’s Shape, Ergonomics, Tone and Aesthetics to Improve Guitar Players’ Experience while Using only Renewable Resources

Reinventing an iconic instrument like the electric guitar is a big challenge, but one that every ambitious designer dreams about. As a huge music and guitar fan RKS’ CEO Ravi Sawhney challenged his team to create a high performance electric guitar made out of sustainable materials that would attract first time learners as well as the best guitar players in the world. The challenge included developing the right shape, ergonomics, tone and aesthetics for the guitar as well as a modular architecture that allowed easy customization. In order to position the product with a distinct differentiation on the market the design had to provide significant improvements to the guitar players’ experience over that provided by traditional electric guitars.


Collaborated with Professional Guitar Players to Truly Understand Their Needs

In order to design a guitar unlike any before, the RKS crew teamed up with rock legend Dave Mason and other professional musicians to gain inspiration and truly understand professional guitar player needs. Insights were gathered from working with Dave, on a weekly basis and around his touring schedule,  and were translated into dozens of functioning prototypes, that were tested and evolved over the course of several years. Simultaneously, materials were researched, looking for only farm raised sustainable alternatives to tone woods from the rain forest and alternative materials that would make it the most significant advance in sustainability in electric instruments of its time.


An Award Winning Guitar Celebrated by Legendary Musicians

The RKS Guitar was the first guitar to use sustainable woods and wood based Polymer, making it the most significant advance in sustainability for electric instruments of its time. The final design affords many improvements over the standard electric guitar. It feels familiar, yet different with its understated design, unbelievable build quality, improved ergonomics, reduced weight and neutral balance. The most relevant controls are in reach for instant and convenient usage improving both aesthetic appeal and playability. Its patented open architecture reinvented an American classic and delivered a guitar which was appealing to bands such as Moby, the Rolling Stones and Bauhaus. In 2005 BusinessWeek featured the RKS guitar on the front cover in celebration of RKS Guitars’ two IDEA awards fueling the creation of a Harvard Business School Case Study, dedicated to the use of Psycho-Aesthetics to inform the development of this ground-breaking guitar.