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Tri-kanta Veena

First Guitar in a FLorence Park Many times I have considered how satisfying it would be to have one instrument that would allow me to freely express all my musicals aspirations.

At the beginning of my musical adventure, I did not have many requirements for an instrument, the most important thing at that point was just to be able to grasp a simple guitar so I could feel the emotions, and the illusion of being up there in the world of fantasy, to sing the songs of my heroes, projecting myself into a future full of fun and glory.

My first guitar was a cheap Italian acoustic guitar; all that I could afford after just two weeks of hard labor in a grocery shop. With this guitar I learned the first chords and was using it primarily as the rhythm support for my singing. It was great to hang out with my friends in the different gardens of Florence, strumming and singing the latest hit tunes.

The First Gig! My mother had always been a great supporter, and she managed to get me involved in different public programs where I would sing and play the guitar. However, for these type programs I needed an electric guitar, making it easier to hear the chords when I was singing. That was the next step on the long road to fulfil my dream.

This first electric guitar was a real piece of Italian-made crap. It was hard to play the chords, and the sound coming out from the big radio I had to use as an amplifier was really unique to say the least. In-between sets

By 1961 things where going rather well, and my mother decided to buy a better set-up for me. She drove such a hard bargain that to this day the owner of one of the best music shops in Florence still remembers her. I got a “Rosetta” electric guitar with two pick-ups and a Krundhal Davoli 10-watt power Amp with vibrato built into it. To me this was a fantastic sound. I used this set up on my first professional gig, and for the next year.

My guitar playing style was slowly developing, I was blown out by the sound of “The Shadows”; the clean sound of Hank Marvin with his Fender Stratocaster was powerful with it’s great echo and reverb; an effect very rarely used in those days. The sound of "Galloping" Cliff Gallup, the lead guitarist with “Gene Vincent and The Blue Caps” was very sharp and clean using a very short echo with his fast licks on a Fender Telecaster. This really convinced me that a Fender guitar had to be my next instrument.

Fender Stratocaster In 1962 I sent a letter to the Fender Company in the USA requesting a catalog of their guitars. Within in few weeks I was gazing at the catalog pictures and reading the specs. I decided to order my first real professional guitar, a fantastic black Fender Stratocaster.

The Florence TriA friend and I had both ordered a guitar. When the guitars arrived from the USA we were so happy that we went all over the city with our amazing new instruments, taking pictures and generally acting in such a way that people thought that we were a bit crazy.  I tried to master “The Shadows” pieces and many of the fast licks of Gene Vincent, the lead guitarist. I also studied the sound of Eddy Cochran, Billy Haley and Scotty Moore, the guitarist responsible for the great solo and chord styles of Elvis Presley’s songs. At that time there where no tutorial videos or DVDs available, I just had to listen over and over and over again to the guitar work that I wanted to learn, and keep the guitar tuned with the records so that I could play along with them.

As time went on my guitar playing gradually improved, Gretsch model Chet Atkinsand I remained fascinated with many different artists and their styles. Those were good times full of hard work, spending hours playing in my mother’s bedroom in front of the big mirror, watcGrech at a Samurai gighing my fingers moving on the fret-board, trying to come up with new exercises to improve my technique. I went to England for three months with a band call “I Samurai”. I found lots of records that were not available in Italy, and discovered the great guitarist, Chet Atkins. He had a big impact on my playing; his intriguing way of using the fingers picking technique and the sound of his guitar was fantastic. I went to a music shop and I swapped my Fender Stratocaster with the same guitar that he was using, a Gretsch model Chet Atkins. This was a great instrument, and I used it with great joy for a quite a while.

At that time groups like “The Animals”, “The Yardbirds”, “Rolling Stones”, “Cream” and many others were well know. There seemed to be a constant stream of young English musicians coming to play in a famous club in Rome, The Piper. There you could hear the real sound of the time and there was a great opportunity to play with those boys.

On stage with the red Gibson 335Red Gibson-335

Despite my regular gigs with a famous group call “I Califfi”, during the weekend I’d catch a train at dawn for Rome from wherever I was in Italy and have a good time with them. By that time the popular sound had changed: it was louder, distorted, and the Gibson guitar was the guitar of choice. I traded my Gretsch to a boy for his red Gibson 335. This one was also a great guitar, with a smooth neck, great sustain, and Humbucking pick-ups. I went thru a few variations of this model until I procured the guitar that I kept longer than any other: a Gibson Les Paul

My Les Paul guitar went thru a lot of adjustments. I added Fender pick-ups in the center to get the clean sound typical of that instrument; I painted it black,Hold the Les Paul also I put on a tremolo to modulate the sound, and added a second cut on the upper part of the body.

This was a fantastic instrument. Les Paul original colorI solely used this guitar during my solo experience in England from 1970 to ‘71, and then after with the band “Area” back in Italy, and continued using it after leaving the band in 1977. I also used this Gibson Les Paul in the beginning of my devotional music productions.

As mentioned in my autobiography page, while in England I had become interested in electronic devices, and despite the capacity to discover a new sound dimension thru my AKS Synth,AKS synthi my real interest was towards the possibility to expand the sound spectrum of the guitar.

The pitch to voltage converter from EMS was great, but there where some serious limitations: EMS PtoVthe tracking was critical and I could only get a satisfying result if I played the guitar in a particular octave; that forced me to develop a strange technique that was seriously limiting my creativity.

So, after I left the band, I made lots of research and discovered hexaphonic pick-ups and Guitar Synthesizers.

The Roland GR-700 was the hot thing at that time and I went for it. The set consisted of G-707two units: GR-700the synthesizer and the guitar. The synthesizer had many sound presets and a memory bank that could store my original sets, plus a stereo output for the synth, plus another output for the clean guitar; this was great because I could mix the two sounds creating amazing effects.

The guitar was also very interesting. Apart from the unusual shape, the tracking was very good and this combination was quite exciting.

Krsna Prema Villa Vrindavana
I kept it for some time along with the YAMAHA G10C (another pure midi controller with the best tracking of all, I still have this device) and I managed to do some work with them. Primarily I was in an explorative mood and that turned to be very successful. I learned lots of things and it was really fun to play guitar and produce many far-out sounds, however the Roland, as an instrument, was really bad.G10 Yamaha

Despite the excitement I realize that my style of playing required a more acoustic and natural sound rather than an electronic effects (I kept those in the back of my mind for the future) so I sold the Roland and I started looking for a good acoustic guitar.


During one of my visits to US I had the chance to try many great instruments but I was struck by the sound of the Adamas guitar. I like the perfect balance between the bass and treble and the sharp and clean sound made by the Carbon graphite top.

KP on stage with Adamas

krsna Prema San Diego

This Instrument was perfect for my open tuning’s, great tone, great action and I played this guitar in concert’s all over the world.

Even on the edge of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Grand Canyon Concert


I love this guitar, and it is only recently that I decided to give it away. (You’ll understand my reasons if you continue to read this story).

Another great guitar in my collection was the GODIN MULTIAC AS. This nylon stringed instrument has a very sweet tone, great action, and because of it’s custom RMC electronics with 13-pin connector for direct control of the Roland GR series Synth, I could, again, enjoy playing different sounds along with the guitar. The tracking of this system is good, and I used it quite a lot in my FUTURE RAGA’S CD, for example in the intro of Going to Hrisikesa I use a soprano sax sound.

The Black Diamond

After selling my GIBSON LES PAUL, GBB Zegrab 1993the only solid body electric guitar that I had was, and still is, a CASIO MG-500. This instrument is very comfortable to play and after I put a set of EMG active pick-ups, plus a complete scalloped fingerboard, it was able to satisfy all my electric guitar needs.

Despite all these great instruments during my musical career, I was thinking of a different kind of instrument, with a different sound, that I could use with different tunings, more complete, with no limitations in relation to range and resonance, independent from the world of artificial gadgets, and capable of satisfying my musical aspirations.

Sitar Guitar made by Jerry Jones

Krsna Prema on stage with the Jones Sitar-Guitar I began making drawings of different ideas and having discussions with different people. In 1994 in Los Angeles I found an instrument called a Sitar Guitar. Made by Jerry Jones, it had some of the features I was looking for, most important being a special bridge like a Sitar which gives a type of jawari or buzzing sound. This Sitar Guitar also featured 13 extra strings on the body that would resonate, giving that special South Asian type of sound. This guitar is a solid body electric type and with the right pre-amp it can produce an unusual and good quality sound. I have used this instrument intensely in my FUTURE RAGA CD, and I still use it to day.The first prototype

Despite the unique features of this Sitar Guitar, it was not the complete instrument that I was dreaming of. In 1997 I found a guitar maker in Calcutta, India, who was willing to following my ideas for a new design, and who made the first prototype of my special guitar. This first attempt did not produce a very good result, so I looked for another builder.

After some research, I found a second guitar maker in Calcutta, and working very closely together we were able to produce a second prototype which was very good, and despite the poor materials used and the poor construction technique, the sound was very good.Playing the second prototype Second prototype

This guitar, like the pervious one, had two necks: the main center one had 10 strings, and the second 13 strings. Both instruments had a jawari bridge on the 13 resonant strings, but only the second one had a jawari bridge on the main neck as well. This combination produced an amazing sound. I really enjoy this guitar, and with it I made what I think is the most significant album I have made, ESSENCE.

3 neck prototype So two necks worked, then why not three! The third prototype came after a year; I just added a neck below the main one with another set of 13 strings. This increased the effect of the resonance of the instrument, but on the second neck I did not put aKP playing the 3rd prototype jawari bridge, so the sound was clear and could also be used to create an arpeggio with my left hand while I was doing tapping on the main neck with my right hand—pretty cool. This third instrument looked very nice, but was very hard to play and did not sound so good, so I understood that it was time to get a real guitar-maker involved in the project and I took the prototype to the US.

While in the USA I visited many guitar companies. Everyone seemed amazed by the sound and the concept of my prototype. I remember visiting Taylor Guitar in San Diego (El Cajon), California. I asked to see a technician and while I was waiting I was playing. When the guy came and I explained to him what I had in mind, he quickly left and returned with Mr. Taylor in person and others as well. They liked the pBill and Guitarroject very much, and knew they could make me a real instrument, but the cost was very high and way beyond my pocket.

Thru Rick, a good friend from West LA Music, I got the address of Bill Asher, a young but very talented luthier from L.A. I went to see Bill; he was in the Santa Monica area and quite close to the Hare Krishna temple so I took the opportunity to bring some of their nice cookies with me. Since our first meeting Bill really like the project and my music, and after few other visits, discussions, and cookies from the temple, he took up the challenge to make the Tri-Kanta Veena at a price I could afford. That is the name of my instrument; tri-kanta means three voices and veena is the instrument that it sounds similar to. He took three anMilano shopd half years to complete his part of the project. Even though the electronic components were not yet in place, when my wife brought back the Tri-Kanta Veena from LA, the instrument was absolutely amazing.


Krsna Prema with TKV

Now the only thing left to do was to find someone here in Italy who could finish the work. I was aTri-Kanta Veena Finalgain lucky to find a very good guitar shop in Milan, Jacaranda. The two boys that run the shop are real professionals and because of my so-called famous past, they assist me very nicely and in few weeks the Tri-Kanta Veena was finally ready.

So I hope that all of you my have a chance to hear this beautiful sound, sometime, somewhere.

And then a new idea, inspiration.

Cremona Workshop

Cremona is the city of Antonio Stradivarius (1644-1737) the most famous violin maker of all time. One weekend three young man from this small, old and exquisite citMichele and Bob with Krishna Premay from the north of Italy, came to visit me at the temple.

Because I was part of a highly respected and popular Italian band in the 70’s “Area”, young musicians see me like a rare species, still alive, from a time full of inventions, creativity and rebellion, and being disappointed from the banality and void of today’s musical scene, they like to check out this tired ancient musical hero, and by talking to them, they seem to get inspiration and a vision of the future.

So it happened that one of them was a luthier, and of course I started to describe about my Tri-Kanta Veena project.

Despite the fact that the project was already completed in the US, I still had a longing for a more portable and compact instrument, easy to move travel with and in a more exotic shape. Michele was immediately fired up and invited me to Cremona to discuss the project with his friend Bob, also a very expert luthier.

Cremona Workshop

In a mKrishna Prema Playing in the Parkystical way tAt Schertler Switzerlandhe project took off, and in very short time, about six months, and after many journeys to Cremona, my new compact and beautiful Tri-Kanta Veena was ready. I am using a Schertler pickup for Cello under the center bridge.

And here it is.

Is this going to be the last one?

Who knows.

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