Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Rogue Aluminator and Able Axe Guitars

The Rogue Aluminator was featured for a few years in the late 1990's in Musician's Friend catalogues.  It was truly a unique instrument.  The slotted body was made from billets of aircraft grade aluminum. 

The history of this guitar is somewhat fuzzy, however here is what I know.

The body shape of the aluminator is reminiscent of a Fender Stratocaster. As mentioned already the guitar was milled from a billet of aluminum.  The 25.5" scale, 22 fret, bolt-on neck was made of maple with a rosewood fretboard with dot markers.  The six on a side headstock pointed and painted featuring the Rogue logo.

Rogue is the house brand featured by Musician's Friend.

The perimeter of the body is slotted, thus allowing a decrease in the guitar's weight.  The center of the body contains the pickups controls and wiring harness. This guitar had 1 volume control and 1 tone control. The potentiometer knobs were similar to those on a Telecaster.  The Aluminator also had 3 mini-throw switches; one for each pickup.  This allows any combination of pickups to be off or on and gives 11 different sounds.

The end of the body featured a non-trem Strat-style bridge with six adjustable saddles. Although it did not allow for the Kahler style, dive bomb sounds that were popular with the shredders of the day, the fixed bridge did help with sustain. 

It was offered in different MF catalogues from $549 to $699.  The catalogue I recall was asking $599 for the guitar. 

The guitar came in silver, purple, red or black.

The Rogue Aluminator is sometimes confused with guitars manufactured by Able Axe.  The reason is Able Axe Company's patterns were used to manufactured the bodies for Rogue. Some sources say Able Axe made the Rogues bodies.

Able Axe was a guitar manufacturer started by Jeff Able to promote the instruments he built out of aluminum.  Between 1994 through 1996 and started up again in 2001.  There are less than 200 '94-'96 guitars.  Like I've stated before, scarcity drives the price up.

Able Axe guitars were made in a variety of styles.  Most featured a small strat style body with 2 or 3 Kent Armstrong pickups or Sky pickups, although the earliest models featured Dimarzios.  Some models had a fixed bridge and some offered a Kahler tremolo.  Most of the Able Axe bodies had holes in them rather than slots like the Aluminator. Once again the holes were there to reduce the body weight.  The bodies on these instruments were approximately 9.5 lbs or 4.3 kg.

The 21 fret necks were made of maple with rosewood fret boards and a pointy unpainted 6 on a side headstock. The nut was either made of graphite or bone, unless it came with the Kahler trem, in which case it was fitted with the Kahler locking nut.  The tuners were Sperzel locking tuners.  The 1994-96 necks were manufactured by Musickraft.  Presently the necks come through Warmouth. (Warmouth is owned by Framus Guitars of Germany).

Note the similarities to the Rogue body

The retail cost in 1994-96 for an Able Axe was $1395 to $1495.  A variety of colours were offered, including plain stainless aluminum.

Currently the cost of an Able Axe is $2500 to $2700.


Anonymous said...

Nice site. I have 3 Abel Axes and just picked up a Rogue Aluminator. I think it is the first time I've seen one for sale on ebay, why, I don't know. Any idea how many were made?

Anonymous said...

I don't know is this is still being read by anyone but I also own an Aluminator (Blue) and I also purchased it on ebay back in 2000. i would have loved a purple one as this is my favorite color but I love this guitar. I contacted Jeff Able about ten years ago and he stated that they made only 200 bodies for Rogue. May I ask what color yours is?