Check out this hot piece of Soviet junk. The date of its introduction in mass production is unknown, but I think it must be somewhen around 1980's. The body sports an extremely intriguing octagonal shape with a giant Russian letter "" (Zh) embossed on it, which must remind the proud owner of this deadly weapon the name of its manufacturer - Zhitomir Factory of Musical Instruments. The label inside has a picture of some cool guy dressed in black suit - perhaps a Beatle - playing this meanie.

Unfortunately, this evil rock godess doesn't belong to me, I just happened to see her in exhibition dedicated to Ukrainian rock band Vopli Vidopliassova and examined it for several minutes. The best thing about Zh (I don't know the name of the model and I doubt it had any, so I'll refer to it as Zh) is the material of its body. It's aluminium, just a thick sheet of pure unpainted aluminium folded in shape of... well... guitar. What kind of evil mind could put forward an idea to produce guitar from aluminium in one of the most forested regions of Ukraine?

The volume knob which you can see in the picture evidences that Zh isn't plain acoustic guitar, it's electric acoustic. Thanks God, I didn't hear it amplified, though at the bottom there is a DIN5 five-pin output jack suitable for connecting Zh to any Soviet amplifier. Still the sounds coming out of unplugged Zh are great too - imagine Satan torturing a bunch of screaming sinners in a giant bucket, and you'll get the feeling of how it sounds like. I think it's perfectly suit for true Norvegian black metal musicians, because the sonic palette is really uncompromisingly evil, to say nothing of this instrument's looks.

But the body is not the only attraction here - the neck is a breakthrough solution too. Surprisingly, it's not made of aluminium or cast iron, just some uninteresting wood of unknown origin, but it's attached to the body with the help of two wood screws, which go right through the neck at 12th fret - their heads can be seen in the photo. And if you take a look at the dots on fretboard, you'll see that they're placed quite intricately - at 5th, 7th, 10th and 12th frets. The only explanation for such marking is that the luthiers from Zhitomir developed their own musical system, which meant to be pioneered at Zh, but never was.

I can only hope that one day scientists will lift the veil of mystery from the history of enigmatic Zh.

Credits: Anton Maksimov

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