|Barron Wesley Guitars Alpha #7
Summary: Similar to the Alpha that I recently reviewed, this guitar sports Honduran mahogany, and the tonal difference is HUGE. I really liked the last edition (#5), but this rendition of the Alpha has it all going on. Ringing clean tones and lots of muscle. Nice.
Pros: Again, all hand-made, and the cleans – oh, the cleans – have a gorgeous bell-like tone. The body and neck resonate beautifully.
Price: $1800 – Yes, you read that right. This guitar is for sale, and I would buy it myself if I had the cash on hand; this is a KILLER guitar!
Tone Bone Score: 5.0 ~ From the moment I plugged it in, I fell in love with the tone and feel of this guitar!
It’s great to be close to local gear builders; especially when they make super-high-quality gear for a freakin’ fantastic price. Aracom was the first local builder whose gear I just had to have, and now it’s Barron Wesley Guitars. Russell at BWG, though a relative newcomer to the luthier scene is insanely talented. The workmanship of his guitars is on par with guitars that cost three to four times more, but more importantly, his guitars play and sound absolutely killer.
Last night, Russell dropped off Alpha #7 at my gig at Max’s Opera Cafe in Palo Alto, CA. When I took it out of its case, I just had to play it right away, so I plugged it in and was rewarded with such a natural, musical tone that I ended up finishing my last set playing that guitar. The clean tone was absolutely mesmerizing to me, and the fretboard made playing so effortless – it was scary easy to play. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself…
Fit and Finish
There’s not much else to say that I didn’t say in my previous review of Alpha #5. Russell’s work is flawless. However, there are some differences in the finish that Russell explained to me last night. For instance, he put on fewer coats of Tung oil on the cocobolo fretboard as he wanted a much more “natural” feel to the fretboard. To me, the result was spectacular! Right out of the box, that fretboard had just about the best feel that I’ve ever experienced. The finish is silky-smooth.
One thing I didn’t mention in my previous article was that I absolutely love Gotoh hardware, and I love wraparound bridges as well. With a single point of contact, the string energy transfers almost directly to the body.
Again, in a word just like last review: Awesome. The neck on #7 is absolutely perfect! Not sure what extra or even less shaping Russell did on the guitar, but to me, this neck feels just right, and moving around on it is a dream!
How It Sounds
Alpha #7, with the Honduran mahogany gives the guitar a real Les Paul-like quality when playing with lots of crunch. The resonance in the wood is such that like an LP, you feel the string vibrations as they course through the body and neck. When I first picked it up just to feel how it plays, I immediately took notice of how the body and neck resonate, which is why I had to play it right away. As I mentioned above, I played it clean, but the cleans were so delicious, I finished my last set playing the guitar.
This evening, I spent some time with the guitar – actually, several hours – and have not been able to put it down, save to write this article. I put together some quick clips to demonstrate the sound of this guitar (all clips were played through my beloved Aracom PLX18 “plexi” clone):
First, we’ve got the riff to Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World”
Amp was cranked, and I played it through the bridge pickup. Next, we’ve got the riff to the Doobie Brothers “Listen to the Music” to demonstrate the neck pickup played clean:
Next, I just started playing some random stuff fingerstyle in the neck pickup:
Then I played a riff to one of my own tunes in the middle position with both humbuckers coil tapped:
Finally, I quickly played a lead over a song idea I’m working on. The first part is played in the neck pickup, then I switch to the bridge to show the difference. VERY Les Paul-like in both response and dynamics:
By the way, those Manilus Vintage/Modern PAF+ pickups are absolutely KILLER! Russell made a great choice in these, as they complement the guitar perfectly!
OMG! I’m freaking out by how incredible this guitar is! If I had the money, I wouldn’t be giving it back to Russell. That’s just how damn good it is. But as I mentioned above, the guitar is for sale. The price is a VERY reasonable $1800, and from how it looks, plays, and sounds, you’d be hard-pressed to get a guitar this good for that kind of price. If you get it now, you’ll be one of the lucky few who get one before he raises prices. Right now, you can take advantage of Russell wanting to get his instruments out and his name known. Once he’s established, the prices will go up as I imagine he’s selling these for just a little over his cost right now.