The Catalyst, nXt, 2000 - Frank Gambale


The Catalyst
Black Sparkle
Ceramic-graphite composite
Ceramic-graphite composite
Ceramic-graphite composite
Dragonfire Screamers
The Story Behind


About the Builder:

The Catalyst nXt was spearheaded by current Aristides founder Aristides Poort, a dutch guitar builder, who took the "sound compound" principles behind the Catalyst guitars from the late 90's, early 2000-era and continued to tweak his vision, resulting in electric guitars now made of "Arium". 

As a civil engineer and guitarist, in 1994 Aristides Poort (1963) started his research into a material with the characteristics of a Stradivarius that would surpass the tone and the sustain of a wooden electric guitar. He says: "It is a misconception that the pickups determine the sound of a guitar. It all starts with the body the neck and the peghead, these are the carriers of sound. That is the foundation! Thanks to a good cooperation with the technical university of Delft, I was able to proof that!"

In the 12 years that Aristides developed the material called "Arium" he sold several models during 1999 and 2001 under the brandname Catalyst: The Panthera, the Jakkerman and the nXt. Those guitars were made from Ceramic-graphite composite.

More about today's activities of Artistides can be found here:

About the Guitar:

This Catalyst was, from a design element, their "rock guitar" offering from their rather limited catalog and was made between 1999-2001.The "nXt" has sort of a streamlined "S" body with an obvious Reb Beach "I" model vibe with it's bottom bout tremolo cutaway but there is a reason for this functional deletion of material. In addition to lowering the already, lightweight body, the cutout behind the trem provides for an amazing degree of float without "bottoming out." The photos might visually mislead you but the tremolo is designed so the string path from nut to trem lock is straight but the actual mass of the tremolo is angled down. As you can see from the photos, there is no neck joint with this composite electric as well, having a molded ceramic-graphite lineage.  Its sexy shape owes more than a passing resemblance to Steinberger's M-bodied guitars from that time period, albeit with sharper lines....more of a jet fighter look, especially with the "cosmic black" sparkle finish.

The Catalyst nXt is built on a platform of ceramic graphite-composite material titled "sound compound." The guitar features a 25.6-inch scale, neck width is 1.61-inches at the nut and 2.05-inches at the 12th fret. The curve of the neck is leaning on the thin C shape. The nut is a compensated nut, allowing for perfect pitch with the lower frets and rock-solid tuning when used in conjunction with the revolutionary tremolo design. The nXtremolo utilizes reverse stringing (unlike Steinbergers, no special strings required), with adjustments for rotation axis of the tremolo (degree of float), arm tension, with individual height adjusting saddles. The seventh (longest) barrel also provide an additional role of overseeing all bridge adjustments. The "seventh" barrel is the only adjustment tool you'll need to perform all functions. Strings are threaded initially through the headstock, with the string ball end securing into the headstock slot. The strings are then threaded down into the slot just forward of the slotted screw at the tremolo. Once threaded through that slot the string extends into the barrel and through it, coming out the other side. You then lock the string with a coin by turning the slotted screw atop the trem and then you adjust to proper pitch using the individual chrome barrels.  Once to pitch, cut the string extending past the barrel ends. Done deal. It's as easy as that. Once you perform this function once or twice, you can literally nail your string changes down to less than five minutes. About one minute per string, if that.  

The original "Catalyst" humbuckers are available but a pair of chrome Dragonfire Screamers are mounted for the moment. These woefully underrated humbuckers absolutely kill in this particular guitar.  Something about how they were set up tonally just work to perfection in this graphite-composite guitar. These "Screamers" are uber high gain yet the eq-curve keeps things balanced so in the bridge position at full-bore, they will maul the front-end of your amp yet when backed off at the neck position, present a very glassy tone...perfect for Holdsworth or Petrucci style legato-shred guitar. As crazy resonate as this guitar is naturally, choosing the right aftermarket pickups is essential. 

For the electronics, there is a master volume "dish" which has an indent for your finger. Works great for volume swells. One three-way and two coil-taps for each 'bucker. No tone control and frankly, it doesn't need one. The pure signal from the guitar can be manipulated with the volume knob and anything beyond that, should come from the amp. Plenty of sounds in this rig. Everything from crystal cleans, funky quacking, country chicken tones to all-out brutal metal can be dialed in.  The curve of the body makes this guitar extremely comfortable to play both seated and strapped. Because there are no tuners on the headstock, it feels "visually," very much like a headless guitar in that it's very diminutive in your hands but for those who hate headless guitars, knowing you have that headstock up there as a reference point bridges the gap between a typical headless guitar and more traditional offering.  This was a custom shop model, as indicated by the addition of its origin on the bottom right cutaway. On a scale of 1-10, condition-wise, this is easily a 9.5 or higher.

This guitar was once a member of Frank Gambale's guitar collection and Frank was kind enough to sign it before releasing it.The guitar has not been played much by Frank. 

A mosnter of sustain, stunning!

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