KK15 – X20 Nylon Red Fan Fret

Ever since I received the first email from Kevin Kastning a few years ago things haven’t quite been the same since for us at Emerald Guitars. Kevin has a very individual style of playing which requires some very specific and highly unusual instruments that just weren’t really feasible in wood, but then our paths crossed and what once seemed impossible, became a possibility.

Kevin’s first collaboration with Emerald Guitars was the Triocha 30-string double neck which then inspired the KK36, a a 36-string guitar. Kevin had barely received the KK36 when he started discussing the KK15 X20 Red Nylon with me.

Finally, after 12 months of discussion and development, I completed this wonderful 15-string nylon guitar. The design brief was for a tuning of F#,B,E,A,A,D,D,G,G,B,B,E,E,A,A which has a very wide range, so getting a scale length to suit all this was nearly impossible.

I had been preaching the merits of Fan frets to Kevin for a while and although at first he was a little concerned about the playability of such an instrument he decided it was worth a try. We went with a fan scale ranging from 27 1/4″ on the bass side which is long enough to accommodate the low F# running to 24 1/2″ on the treble side which is short enough to allow the High A string without breaking. Truly, the fan scale is the only way we could have achieved this tuning and its given the instrument great presence and balance across the register.

Kevin plays these guitars in an upright position so I installed a cello-style end pin so he can support it on the floor, making it much easier to accommodate his playing style. The pickups are a custom set of K&K pure mini divided into a stereo output so Kevin can balance the bass side to treble sides and control the signals separately. The body design is basically our X20 with a modified soundboard and bridge design and the neck was moulded from the same mould created for the KK36 necks.

This was our fourth build for Kevin and already he says this guitar is inspiring new possible ideas, so I’m just a little bit nervous about where this may take us next, but then that’s what keeps life interesting.


  • CLIENT Kevin Kastning

My suspicions about carbon fiber resolving the limitations of classical guitars proved to be correct: the G string imbalance is gone, the treble register is crisp and sparkling without being thin, and the sustain is greatly improved.The voicing, the responsiveness, the balance, the playability, and the flawless action are wonderful. The intonation is very accurate; no mean feat on a multi-scale instrument with 15 strings. I feel as if the KK15 provides a balance to my instrument palette which was sorely lacking. It will be on several album recording projects in 2015 and beyond.

Body design: Modified X20
Neck width at nut: 92mm
Saddle spacing: 101mm
Tuners: Gotoh 510 mini
Saddle: Custom Graphtech
Pickups: Custom stereo K&K pure mini
End pin: Custom Carbon fibre Cello endpin
Total weight: 3.0kg

Alistair's working processin 3 steps

Alistair takes on a number of Custom Design projects a year. If you checked out our Emerald Custom Shop and couldn't find the options you were looking for and have something very special in mind, send Alistair a query!

browse & be inspired

Browse through the Alistair Hay Custom Design Portfolio and see how endless the possibilities are when coming up with your own instrument design.

contact & develop

Send Alistair a query and let him personally advise you on a one-to-one basis on all the possibilities in view of building your dream instrument.

place your order

Following consultation with Alistair, all you have to do is finalise your specifications and await the completion of your Alistair Hay Custom Design instrument.


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