Excerpts from FEATURE TEST:
WARMOTH "MADE IN SWEDEN"*
by Mats Grundberg, MusikerMagasinet (Sweden) Dec 1993
Text © Mats Grundberg 1993
Reproduced by permission
(*Warmoth guitars put together by several Swedish guitar techs compared)
Of all these guitars, Paul Guy's differ most from original specifications. Warmoth
fabricate several of the parts from patterns which PG made himself. For example,
PG's necks are about 1mm thicker at the first fret, and therefore slightly rounder
than, Warmoth's "standard contour", which is approx. 20mm at the first fret, and 22.5mm at
the twelfth fret. The headstock is tilted 13 degrees to hold the strings more securely
in the nut and the tuners are arranged so that E6 - G3 are on the top of the head and
B2/E1 on the bottom. The idea behind this arrangement is to equalise the "bend resistance"
between the strings. Another detail is the neck joint, here called "E-Z-AX-S" (easy
access), which has been angled in towards the treble side cutaway about 25mm. PG's
guitars in general bear the stamp of creative thinking, craftsmanship, and attention
to every detail; for example, the control pockets in all PG's guitars are shielded
with metal foil and conductive paint.
The test guitar's body is made of swamp ash with a quilted maple top. The neck, too,
is maple, as is the glued on fingerboard. All the wood gives the impression of being
carefully selected; the quilted maple top, especially, is very beautiful. The shaping, and fit between body and neck, are exquisite.
The body's transparent medium blue color with natural wood "false binding", together
with the yellow toned neck and chrome hardware, is a bit gaudy for my taste, but
shows the possibility of doing something personal and spectacular with Warmoth parts.
The lacquering is well done, with a high finish.
PG has a lot of good ideas regarding electronics which give increased sound variation
possibilities. The on board preamp of Roger Mayer/Paul Guy design is one example;
it works very well, without interfering noise or tonal changes. The three pickups
on the test guitar are passive Kent Armstrong, humbuckers in neck and bridge positions and
a "Side by Side" Strat size humbucker in the middle.
The StarCruiser is a very fine instrument. If you do not share PG's taste in pickups,
bridge and color you just choose a different combination. There are a large number
of options and the quality is very high.
I'll say it right away: I really fell for this guitar. A tasty nutbrown mahogany Thinline
Tele body with a dramatically striped koa top, glued Martin style ebony bridge with
a bone colored synthetic saddle (Graph Tech "Tusq", translator's note), clear lacquered maple neck with ebony fingerboard and bone colored synthetic nut, plus hardware
in black and chrome. PG's color matching of chiefly muted, masculine hues is perfect
and the finish is, like the StarCruiser, exquisite.
Apart from the body, which is a standard Warmoth item, the HoloCaster is in high degree
a PG creation. The neck, which has a very smooth and even fingerboard, has the
same measurements and frets as the StarCruiser, and the body has the "E-Z-AX-S" neck joint. But above all it's the "armament" (literal translation! translator's note)
which makes the HoloCaster unique. I must admit that I wondered a bit about why PG
chose to install a Martin style bridge on the guitar, but I soon figured it out. He has
added a two way Ashworth piezo pickup system to the two Kent Armstrong P90 pickups, with
a strip under the bridge saddle and a bug inside the body. There are three controls
on the face of the body - a five way switch with different combinations for the magnetic
pickups; a pot which mixes between only the magnetic pickups and only the piezo pickups;
and a master volume for the whole system. The balance between the two piezo pickups
is adjustable with trimpots on the preamp in the control cavity on the back of the
guitar. PG has solved the grounding problem elegantly by means of a specially made
metal string anchor block on the back of the body.
Well, how does it sound, then? Let's take it from the beginning. The Thinline design
with its large chambers, in combination with the mahogany and koa, gives the HoloCaster
a powerful, warm and full acoustic sound. The tone is clear and distinct in both
the bass and the treble. This is a guitar which sings with authority. The tone is thus
suitable for reproduction with both magnetic and piezo pickups. The Kent Armstrong
pickups have an unmistakable P90 character. The Ashworth system is a good piezo system
which adds some extra body to the string sound. The advantage of the HoloCaster's "armament"
lies perhaps for many in having access to an electroacoustic sound without the need
to change guitars. I fell for the mixture of both pickup types, myself: the full sound of the magnetic pickups combined with the acoustic attack from the strings.
It sounds very good.
The HoloCaster is, as near as dammit, a bullseye. An example of how one can produce
an exciting, personal, first class guitar with Warmoth parts.
PG got his inspiration for the Lens model from Zeta Systems' Mirror 6 synth guitar.
The body looks approximately like a small Strat would do if you could get hold of
both horns and twist it. The neck has the same specifications as the two previous
ones in this test, but the headstock on the Lens is wing shaped. The futuristic shape and
the austere coloring (black lacquer, hardware in black/chrome and black ebony fingerboard)
are reminiscent of the German Bauhaus school.
The neck and fingerboard are comfortable to
play on and straight as a die. Just like the StarCruiser, the Lens is equipped with
an American Standard tremolo with graphite saddles and Sperzel tuners. A Roland-compatible synthesizer driver circuit is also fitted. Apart from the synth pickup, the test
guitar is armed with four Kent Armstrong "Side by Side Vintage" humbucking Strat size
pickups, two of which are in a humbucker size cover at the bridge position.
With master volume and master tone controls, a five way switch and a mini switch,
PG offers many ingenious pickup combinations here.* These vintage pickups, with about
the same signal as Fender original pickups, are clean and clear with emphasis on
the high mid register. The Lens guitar is, like the other Guy by Warmoth guitars, very well
made, with material, hardware and finish of the highest class.
Text © Mats Grundberg 1993
Reproduced by permission
*The toggle switch puts the second pickup in the bridge position in series with whatever
pickup/s is/are selected on the 5-way. PG
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