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.  Able Axe founder and builder, Jeff Able built the guitars for Musicians Friend to sell under the Rogue Brand.

Able Axe was a guitar manufacturer started by Jeff Able selling guitars he built out of aluminum.  Between 1994 through 1996 and started up again in 2001.

Abel Axe guitars have bodies made of solid 6061-T6 aluminum billets and are only one inch thick. Less than 250 of the original Swiss cheese body style were made from ~1994-1996. The bodies had holes drilled into them.  The holes were there to reduce the body weight.


The bodies on these instruments were approximately 9.5 lbs or 4.3 kilograms

All of the guitars were designed and manufactured by Jeff Abel of Bitteroot Valley in Wyoming. He started building again in 2001. This run featured slots instead of holes. 

All the bodies were coloured with anodized aluminum finishes. Most were finished in red, black, blue, violet, gold, teal, and even mult-icolor. There rarest would be 3 with a green grass finish and 20 with a clear (aluminum) finish.


These guitars featured a small Strat-type body with holes available with a trem or fixed bridge. Since they were made one at a time by Jeff Able there are subtle differences in hole beveling, spacing, and drilling depth. There was a small run of single humbucker Abel Axe made with slots instead of holes. 




The very first batch (a dozen or so less) were released with DiMarzio humbuckers: PAF Pro in the neck position and Tone Zone in the bridge position. These were replaced by Kent Armstrong pickups (at one point manufactured by Sky pickups) which were HRE-1 in the neck position and HSDE-1 in the bridge position.

Many of these Able Axes featured a Kahler Tremolo and Sperzel Trimlock tuning pegs.

The necks were made by Musickraft Inc. and were rosewood or maple fret boards on quarter- sawn hard rock maple. All guitars made after 2000 featured Warmoth necks were used. From 2007-present, necks are made by Delaney Guitars. Scale length on all necks: 25.5″.

These pickups are now called are sold through www.wdmusic.com.

In 2010 there was an article that Jeff Able was going to sell his guitars in partnership with Mike Delaney of Delaney guitars.  There is no mention of this on the Delaney website.

According to recent posts by Jeff Able’s daughter Jenna, Able Guitars will be back in business. There is a Facebook page for Able Axes.

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







This is mostly about Mike Delaney Guitars, but around 5:53 he talks about the Able Axe



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2 comments:

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?