Creation of the Veleno Guitar Part I

In the beginning, when I first decided to make an all aluminum guitar, luckily there was no need to confer with anyone who was or had been a guitar maker nor anyone who had worked in making or repairing guitars.  My previous studies of music, guitar and being directly involved with the manufacturing of aluminum and metal products provided me with everything I needed to fulfill that  task.   I had manufacturing experience in producing components for the very first space vehicle and following space vehicles including the Lunar Excursion Module.  Being a certified member of the American Society of Tool and Manufacturing Engineers I also designed methods for production and fabrication of a wide range of precision metal components used in many of the first large main-frame computers installed in banks and other institutions.  Prior to the involvement in the manufacturing of prototype and production metal products I had been a part of a Research and Development team for a branch of American Can Company in their development projects for machinery automation for 11 years.  I was well equipped to undertake the making of that first all aluminum Veleno electric guitar.  

In the making of the first Veleno guitar intonation accuracy, sound, and playability were, naturally, the major factors to be concerned with.  Not being a woodworker but rather having extensive experience in the manufacturing of precision aluminum and other metal products I decided to combine those skills into building an all aluminum accurate precise guitar.  But there was one issue left that I needed to confer with others about, sound.  I pondered on the thought of what it would take to have an electric guitar produce the purest and cleanest sounds possible.  

I had an acquaintance who was an electronic engineer for the General Telephone Company, our local phone service at that time.  I asked if he would look into the reason with his fellow engineers as to why phone companies and multi line phone installation companies used single strand wire in all their installations.  He conferred with associate engineers about my inquiry and they looked into the matter.  A couple of weeks later he asked if I would join them in a meeting.  The bottom line of that meeting was I was informed that in early and recent tests, which at that time in the latter 1960's, the purest sound transmitted was found to be through the use of single strand wiring rather than multi strand wiring.  The reason for that finding is explained further in this text.

Following is some material that was included in an information sheet I placed under the strings of new Veleno guitars when shipped in January 2006.  I started to include this letter with Veleno guitars because this particular purchaser had once mentioned that he felt the reason he thought the vintage Veleno guitars sounded so great to him was because we used a certain type pickup plus the fact that because it was all metal they produced that unique "metallic" sound.  Being made of metal does have something to do with it but it is not the full reason.  The pure sound in the Veleno is not because it is made of any specific material nor because of the pickups only but because a major contributing factor is due to the use of single strand wiring from the beginning and was never changed.  So now, rather than including this information with a guitar, I'm publishing it on our website.

Here are parts of that letter information sheet.


General information of the Veleno Guitar

On several occasions John Veleno has been highly criticized for using single strand wiring in his guitars.  When John made his first guitar in the latter part of the 1960s he was interested in making a guitar with the purest sound possible.  He inquired with a couple of telephone company electronic engineers to discuss the purpose of why telephone companies were using single strand wiring for phone transmissions.  In a simplified analysis they explained that experimentation and testing was used for both types of wiring.  It was found that single strand wire produces an end result of a purer, cleaner and truer sound, or tone, at its destination end point than multi-strand wiring.

Through testing of various types of wiring it was discovered that when the multi-strand wiring is connected at its ends, whether soldered or not, the transmission through each of its strands reaches its end point at a different time.  The sound transmission passes through each connection to the next multi- strand wire to the next connection, etc. and each connection multiplies the timing error of the current passing through from the beginning to its end point.  This multiplication error of current reaching its destination, the end point, produces an end result of a combination of transmission timing errors.  Although the timing error through each wire is so infinitesimally minute, and nearly incalculable, at that time, the difference in the end result sound was noticeable to the human ear. The single strand noticeably produced a cleaner, purer, and truer end result sound or tone.

It was also determined and explained that when a sound or tone is pure and clean, as produced by single strand, it can easily be electronically altered to replicate numerous other tones and sounds.  However when a sound or tone is not as pure, as found in multi-strand wiring transmissions, its tone alterations become more limited.  In no way can a purer sound be extracted from an impure sound.  The impure sound through multi strand wiring cannot be altered to replicate and match the sound transmitted through single strand wiring.  It is true that the single strand wire will break much more easily, but most always when being internally worked on.  It is equally just as easy to repair.  A small price to pay for purity.  A more than 25 year old guitar was recently sent to John for repair.  It had been heavily used and was visibly in need of what seemed to be extensive repair.  John found all the single strand wiring still intact and none of the wiring was broken.  I found no reason to include that information with Veleno guitars literature due to publishing it on the Veleno Guitar website.

There have been several vintage Veleno guitars shipped to Veleno Instrument Company in recent years for a COA and, thus far, all have been verified as being authentic and received a free COA.  One of the counterfeits was presented to me a few years ago, not looking for a COA, and I was given the opportunity to disassemble and closely examine that instrument.  Anyone who feels they have the real thing in a Veleno guitar can U.S. Mail it to Veleno Instrument Company, PO Box 55268, St. Petersburg, FL 33732 and we will examine it and when found to be authentic will receive, absolutely free of charge, a Certificate of Authenticity.  They only have to pay for shipping both ways.  Please feel confident that you will receive an honest true evaluation.  You cannot receive this anywhere else as we have the facts.

If one is truly looking for sound I, John, personally feel that our new Veleno guitars are outdoing and definitely have an edge on the older vintage Velenos.  When I, myself, tested the last one it literally made my hair stand on end.  It was a wonderful feeling.  I am not partial to what I make, but rather very critical.  For sound, I want the best.  I have tested these babies not only with top of the line amps but also on, what is considered, the low quality amps and compare them with other top brand guitars on the same amps and the results I get have truly been astounding.   

In order that you just do not take my word for what the Veleno guitar can do see what one of the very top musician and guitarist states about the caliber of a Veleno guitars.  Pay close attention to Todd Rundgren, who, when in the October, 1977 issue of Guitar Player Magazine was asked, referring to his Veleno made Ankh guitars, "Have you used those guitars in the studio yet?" and Todd responded "No, not yet, no.  But I probably will, because they sound better than my other guitars."   

So, please don't take it from just me but you can take it from Todd since he was also nicknamed "The Wizard" of the musician's studio at that time.   If you were to read that entire excellently written article you would see the extensive collection of electronic devices he used to develop the awesome sounds this excellent and amazing musician cultivated and produced.  Do you suppose, that this could possibly be one of the major reasons counterfeiters have been committing fraud in producing their so called genuine "Veleno" guitars?  Saying they were made by me!! There has to be some very good reason!

I feel that a good analogy for the Veleno guitar is this:   When an experienced race car driver is provided with car that is more powerful, using the best tires, suspension and braking system there is absolutely no one who could beat him!  Yet, he can cut down the power and imitate any other vehicle on the track.  But it is impossible for any other car to duplicate what this car can do.  If an inexperienced and unknowledgeable person tries to drive this car in a race and puts it to its full potential he will be short lived.  That car was not intended to be used at full power all around the track except in emergencies such as after leaving a corner and into its break away show off speed.  However, an amateur knowing what he has would certainly enjoy exploring its capabilities in a cautious way.

THAT is what I strive for and believe I have achieved and produced in the creation of the Veleno guitars.  It is an extremely powerful guitar and can be electronically cut down to imitate nearly all other electric guitars plus produce sounds others are not capable of duplicating.  Some inexperienced guitarists are not aware of what they have with a Veleno and get discouraged in their efforts in sound control.  It is much easier to purchase a guitar that sounds the way you like to hear it when you first pick it up and play it.  But when the time comes you want to vary it to sound much different than it does, it is time to purchase a guitar that has that sound.

When most accomplished guitarists first hear a Veleno guitar in its full potential they don't know why it has the range of sounds it has.  When they are in the vicinity of a Veleno being played by a guitarist who knows how to put it through the paces of varying sounds and tones, and those others hear that Veleno for the first time it turns heads due to them not being accustomed to hearing the wide range of sounds and tones it can produce.  I have been an innocent unnoticed by stander in music stores when all of a sudden an experienced guitarist picks up and plays a Veleno.  Many players in the vicinity, not seeing what is being played, have suddenly said "Wow, what is that?" in surprise, without first seeing it.  When one hears the cleanest purest sounds of notes coming from a powerful guitar it can be overwhelming to a keen ear.  Yet, the Veleno is controllable and can be cut back to generate the sounds of most others.  And since each person feels he (or she) has a perfect understanding in his or her own mind, most first impressions are that it is because the Veleno is made of aluminum or metal and therefore gives that metallic sound.  Isn't it fantastic that, for the most part, only one guitar is needed instead of 30 or so?

Not too long ago a man ordered one of my new Veleno guitars, which was accompanied with a COA, and when he found that I used single strand wiring throughout the guitar he got outraged and contacted me stating that he could not believe I had put single strand wiring in the Veleno guitar he just purchased and indicated it was a very stupid thing to do.  He told me that he immediately removed and replaced all the single strand wire and replaced it with the best multi strand wiring of his so-called expertise choice.  He stated that single strand wire is subject to easily break at any time and would not never stand up.  In fact, he even asked if I would ship all my guitars to him for wiring.  Doesn't that seem a rather unusual request after the success Veleno guitars have had in the past?

Let me tell you that single strand wire is only one of a few major factors that contribute to my guitars having such an unusually strong sound.  It can be likened to that race car previously mentioned whose power can be cut back to imitate any of its competitors, yet when needed, has potential of pure power that could not be duplicated.  The use of single strand wire was introduced and recommended to me before finishing my first guitar.  Please do not forget that In building my first guitar I never, ever, had built a guitar or musical instrument in my life, yet was fully confident that I knew exactly what was needed to produce accurate notation and what is needed in neck "action" to produce the most ease of handling.  I never felt the need to consult anyone about what or how to do it.  I "knew" beforehand what was needed and how to do it which was developed through my previous years of experience of music study, machine designing and building, engineering production methods of metal products, making prototype components for space vehicles and computers, designing tooling to mass produce numerous types of aluminum products in large quantities ranging into the thousands.  As previously mentioned, the only last thing I did not know was how to produce the purest sound, as I did not consider myself a "sound producing expert" but knew with whom to consult.  Consulting with the folks who depend on the purest sound transmissions, and who deal with sound more than anyone else on this planet.   Speaking with an engineer who was employed by General Telephone at the time.  Phone companies used single strand wiring, and still do, in homes and businesses, in utility boxes, underground, on poles, and whatever else is needed prior to entering into their fiber optics systems.   

The reason being that when multi strand wire is used it was found that when the sound current is introduced into the microphone to when it reaches the end point of listening or hearing that each strand of wire transmits a signal.  That total signal transmission time through each wire reaches its end point at a different time due to the connection of multiple seemingly simultaneous transmissions, but not in reality.  1) the point at which each wire connects will vary slightly in length 2) there are numerous various types of connections and distances for each end point before it reaches its destination point.  3)  When it reaches its final destination the times it reaches its final point vary enough to give a slight blur in the sound.  4) When compared to single strand, the single strand has only one transmitted signal through one wire, through one joint, and when the sound reaches its end point it is as pure as it can possibly be.  5) When a sound is transmitted through multi strand wiring it becomes a thoroughly mixed signal resulting from transmissions through numerous combinations of the same signal transported through the shortest combinations of lengths to longest combinations of lengths with infinitesimal combinations between, and nothing can be done to prevent it from happening.  This variance in the transmission of sounds, or frequencies or current, produces a sound that is noticeably not as pure as the sound transmitted through a single strand wire.  Though the total differences of lengths for each strand of wire used in the multi strand systems are incalculable, the end resulting sound becomes noticeably different.  And a good ear can differentiate!!  The same holds true for the Veleno guitar as compared with others.

After making about six guitars I experimented and wired up one of my new guitars using multi strand wire and compared it with a single strand wired Veleno.  The sound emitted sounded different and not just to myself, I asked others to listen and asked if they could hear the difference.  A few stated they could not tell the difference but most said they could and all of those selected the single strand wired guitar without knowledge of that fact, of having the clearest and cleanest sound.  Regardless of electronic measuring devices, the purpose for music is for the human ear.

Now, getting back to the smart aleck who changed the wiring to multi strand in the new Veleno shipped to him.  He tried to impress me with his own intelligence stating that the reason he re-wired the guitar was because he said that single strand wiring could easily break and not last, and require frequent repairs.  In reality, I never heard of someone having a wire break in one of my guitars, and we have had a couple in the family for about 30 years that work very well which never had a broken wire or connection.  Pots and switches have given problems at times but not the wires.  I still have some partial wiring harnesses from years past that were never installed in a guitar.  These harnesses have been handled, and not too carefully, during all those years, yet, most of them are surprisingly still intact after all those years of handling.

About two years ago one of the first guitars I ever built was sent to me for for neck and body refinishing, and electrical repairs.  It was not working at all.  The owner wanted it to stay as original as possible.  It had a tremendous amount of neck and fret wear, with grooves worn into the neck under the strings.  It was restored to a point that it almost looked new.  It really looked great!  The neck felt and played fantastic and it sounded incredible.  When I received that guitar some of the electrical parts did not work at all.  But, THERE WERE NO BROKEN WIRES!  The selector switch and a couple of pots did not work.  The owner wanted it to be as original as possible and to replace as few parts as possible.  I put a non-lubricating penetrating oil on the switch and pots for a first try at revival.  In a short time the switch worked excellent, and only one pot had to be replaced, with the facts being that although that instrument had experienced a tremendous amount of use, plus long term storage without cleaning, it left here looking, playing and sounding like new, and this was after about 30 years, some of heavy use and some in storage.  We returned it to the owner and included a free COA!.   The serial number of this guitar was less than #20.

After this experience, of the re-wiring of a Veleno guitar to multi strand, there is no doubt in my mind that self proclaimed "guitar experts" really exist and there are areas in which some know absolutely nothing about.  A perfect example is the case of the "breaking of single strand wires."  How could he possible know?  First of all he told me that he knew of no guitar maker who used single strand wire. Second, if this is true then he had no knowledge for a basis for comparison to make the statement of broken wires, since he never heard of any prior to the one I sent him!

Look into the fact that all guitar pickups are made using single strand windings of wire about 0.002" in diameter!  That hardly ever break!  I have pickups from 30 years back on hand that are still in working order, that have been mounted and dismounted in guitars.  Of the single strand wires that do break, most happen during repairs.   Earlier this year I started to include an information sheet with a new Veleno guitar, explaining the reason for our using single strand wiring in the Veleno guitars so that no one would not be tempted to change the wiring as a previous purchaser did.  That sheet gave the reasons why a single strand wired guitar, when properly used, would show more power in sound and therefore have the ability to be electronically altered down into multitudes of tones.  

Again, I mention and stress that it is time to publish this information, in more detail, on our website rather than including it with a guitar when shipped.  In this way everyone interested will know a little more about the Veleno guitar and its sounds.

In the beginning, I did not wish to make an electric guitar without having the knowledge of everything a guitar should have for ease of playing, a fast neck, and to produce the cleanest and purest sound.  I felt I accomplished that and it was very pleasing to know how many intelligent professionals and expert guitarists discovered it as well, especially fraud producers.  

Wanting to have some knowledge about all the components that make up electric guitars I also made a pickup in the early stages of development, which was immediately following the making of my first two guitars.  I used two 1/32" thick strips of Formica, drilled six holes, and inserted six 3/16" diameter alnico magnets 5/8" long.  Purchasing the purest .002 dia. copper alloy wire I could find at the time, during the 1960s, and calculating the approximate length of wire used for some of the best bridge pickups, I purchased a used wire winder, and wound more wire on mine, just for a comparison.  That particular pickup was placed between the bridge and neck pickups on a popular brand name wood guitar owned by a very accomplished local guitarist at that time for testing.   I was informed a couple of months ago, 30 or so years later, that he has been continuously playing in bands since that time, still plays, mostly weekly and still uses that pickup.  I was told that it has been installed on several different guitars during the past 30 or so years.  He states, he loves the fantastic sounds it produces and would never give it up.

Creation of the Veleno Guitar Part II

(coming soon!)


John Veleno       

Collectors, please check out the ceramic coated guitars made in Italy seen at Ceramic Guitars by Giovanni.   They would be well worth the investment.

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