Collaboration creates innovation
In the late 80's luthier Steve Klein was already renowned for building some of the world's finest acoustic guitars. For years he had been playing with an idea for an electric guitar - one which incorporated radical body designs for ergonomics and playability. But he could never get the design to work quite right.
Enter Ned Steinberger.
Ned was introduced to Steve through contacts at Gibson. At the time Gibson was trying to introduce it's own designers to other influential luthiers. Steve met with Ned and outlined the problems he was having getting his ideas to work. Ned suggested his graphite headless neck & hardware and the GK was born.
A Steinberger GK4S
Click here for a letter Steve Klein wrote at the time of introduction about the process of creating these guitars.
The original plan was for the GK basswood bodies to be produced by Klein in his California facility and then shipped to Steinberger plant in Newburgh, NY. There they would be married to Steinberger necks, bridges (TransTrems and S-Trems) and various electronics (various EMG's & Seymour Duncans, active & passive EQ). Once fully assembled they would be shipped and sold through the Steinberger dealer network as original Steinberger guitars. Note that though Klein went on to design a bass version, only the guitar was ever sold under the Steinberger banner.
At the same time the GK's were coming out, demand for the other Steinberger models was far outpacing the factory's ability to produce them. A licensing arrangement was established whereby Klein would purchase necks and components wholesale from the factory. Steinberger would send these parts to CA, and Klein would assemble and drop ship the instruments directly from their shop.
Gibson ended sales of GK's in the mid 90's. It's estimated roughly 250 Steinberger GK guitars were built and sold during the entire production run. Even after Gibson stopped selling them Klein continued making the instruments with parts bought under the licensing agreement.
Though Steve Klein has returned to producing acoustic guitars exclusively, Lorenzo German (his right hand man during the GK production) still produces these same instruments under the banner of Klein Electric Guitars. They still feature Steinberger hardware and sport a radical design that turns heads even today.
Click here to go to Klein Electric Guitars.