The wonder of the Maple Taffy is that ergonomics and design are one and the same in this instrument. It’s a jazz guitar with incredible sound that doesn’t adhere to all the principles of a typical archtop, but maintains a carved top.
Luthier Jean-Yves Alquier based the Maple Taffy on his triptych of concept guitars. He debuted it at the Holy Grail Guitar Show in Berlin in 2014.
The Maple Taffy can be played as an acoustic with only two aerial pickups or as an electric with a magnetic pickup, with tone and volume knobs. The switch can be made in under a minute, without the need of a tool. The idea was to go from a ES 175 Gibson to an Angelica in no time.
By removing the magnetic pickups and the electronic components, the guitar sheds 12 ounces (350 grams). It also provides a more homogenous sound in acoustic mode. Whereas in electric mode, the soundboard is cushioned.
The guitar’s moniker is based off the Canadian sweet with the same name. Maple Taffy is molten maple sap poured on snow, which is then lifted and twirled with a wooden stick. Up close, the instrument’s finish has a crystalline look. It’s a nod to Canada where he presented his first concept guitars at the Montreal Guitar Show.
The soundboard is made from spruce and the carved bottom from alder. The neck is mahogany and curved maple, with a smokey finish. The fretboard is ebony with light fan-fretting, marked by semi-ovals—Alquier’s signature motifs. The ovals, which also appear on the neck and head, are made of pink gold-plated brass.
Alquier created the unique, compensating saddle. It’s made of brass and rests on an ebony support. The individual tailpieces, as seen on Alquier’s Airmail and Gnossienne, can be adjusted for string tension. This is contrary to a typical tailpiece which has just one overall angle.
The ergonomic form of the neck heel provides an easy access to the high notes. The right side of the body allows the musician to rest the guitar on a thigh while sitting. The featherweight Gotoh tuners are set inside the head to emphasize a light and smooth design. The back of the guitar is symmetrical with the front.
The magnetic pickup is fixed into the pickguard, which makes it easy to remove. It simply connects through banana plugs. The custom Alquier pickup was engineered by Nicolas Mercadal of Benedetti Pickups. It is based on the Benedetti P38 with a rail. The pickup’s brass outline was built by Christophe Grellier using a CNC.
The electric module was designed by Alquier, with the help of Nicolas Mercadal. Mercadal built the module. The circuit board was made the old-school way, with sanded knobs, engraved with a diamond tip to give it a bumblebee look. On the whole, it’s a 1960s circuit, but maintains the spirit of a jazz guitar.
The twin Ischell air mics are flush with the soundboard and come with an external preamp. The Maple Taffy also comes with the following: two jacks equipped with XLR, spare strings, string cutter and reeler, maintenance products, cloth, an acoustic pickguard, acoustic module and six custom Maple Taffy picks from Riki Le Plectrier.