Posts Tagged ‘messenger’

4.5 Tone Bones - Very solid performer, and has almost everything but just missing a couple of things

Saint Guitar Company Baritone Messenger

Saint Guitar Company Baritone Messenger

Saint Guitars Baritone Messenger

Summary: An aggressive guitar that wants to growl! This baritone is well-suited to de-tuned, low-freq, hard-driving metal, yet can be tamed to produce sweet, ringing cleans.

Pros: Very playable guitar, with a fast neck despite the wider frets. The hot, high-gain, active pickups practically eliminate the need for distortion pedals. Will hit the front-end of amp with tons of oomph! Bright tone will cut right through any mix.

Cons: Not really suited for a cleaner style of playing.

Price: $2300


  • Solid walnut body and neck
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Seymour Duncan Blackouts in Neck and Bridge
  • Master Volume and Tone
  • Gorgeous, dark-brown open-pore finish

Tone Bone Rating: 4.5 – Metalheads will love this guitar! I dug its playability, but would probably swap out the active pickups for a pair of ’59’s or Alnico Pro II’s to give the tone a fuller sound. But as with any Saint Guitars instrument, it’s really playable!

I’m very blessed. I have great friends who share my passion for guitar, and several of them make equipment. And I feel extremely grateful that I get to play the stuff they create. Such is the case with Adam Hernandez, whiz-kid owner and luthier of Saint Guitar Company. Adam and I struck up a friendship in the middle of last year, and I get to test (and sometimes spec) guitars he’s adding to his inventory. He doesn’t carry many in inventory as his business is fairly dedicated to creating custom works of functional art. But it’s cool that he lets me play with them. On the flip side, I’m more than willing to do writeups of his excellent guitars.

And while the guitars Adam creates are nothing short of amazing, what really turns me on about the guitars is Adam’s fearless approach to guitar making. For instance, Adam’s tone wood of choice is walnut. Walnut is usually considered bright and dead. But Adam has somehow found a way to shape and construct guitars made from walnut that are incredibly resonant and rich in tone. A guitar player himself, his designs reflect a sensitivity to the working guitarist, with easy-to-reach controls, and beautifully shaped bodies and necks that are more than just pleasing to the eye, they’re meant to be played!

When Adam contacted me and told me he wanted to swap the Faded Blue Jean Benchmark that I had been testing, I have to admit that I experienced a bit of trepidation in making the trade. For one thing, I kind of got attached to the “Baby Blue” as I came to call it, and more importantly, I had never played a baritone guitar, and didn’t know what to expect. But far be it from me to let those things get in the way. It’s not every day that you get to play custom, hand-made guitars. So a couple of weeks after he called me, we met at my local coffee hangout. That was before Christmas, so I’ve had quite a bit of time to play with the guitar.

Fit and Finish

What can I say that I haven’t said before? Saint Guitars are flawless in look and build. With this Baritone, I really dig the open-pore finish! It really brings out the natural grain of the walnut. As usual, the frets are perfectly shaped, and you’ll never find any rough edges or production burrs on the fret wire. And being that it is a solid stain, it’s just beautiful in its simplicity.


As I mentioned briefly in the summary, this is a very playable guitar. The action is PERFECT, and the jumbo frets make it easy to achieve vibrato just by wiggling your finger ever so slightly. In fact, since I like to really dig in with my left hand, it took me awhile to adjust to the light touch that’s required to voice a note or chord. But that’s a good thing. I’ve said it before: A good instrument will force you to be a better player because it won’t hide your mistakes or the idiosyncracies in your playing.

Adam is partial to wide, but shallow “D” shape necks. The “D” shape on the baritone is less pronounced on the Messenger than it was on the previous guitar I tested. I myself am partial to narrow “C” shape necks, but irrespective, the neck shape certain didn’t preclude me from playing. It did take a little while to get used to, but once I found a good height and angle, the guitar became a dream to play!

How It Sounds

I’ll let you decide for yourself. Here’s a clip:

And here’s the same clip with my Strat layered on top. I did this to see how well it played tonally with a standard scale guitar.

Okay, I did add a touch of reverb to the guitar in the tracks above, but the natural resonance and sustain even without reverb is astonishing! You can dig into a note, wiggle your finger, and the guitar will happily carry that note into the ethers forever. It’s very pleasant.

Now here’s the rub… and the reason I gave it 4.5 Tone Bones. For my style of playing, which leans towards the blues and classic rock, the Seymour Duncan Blackouts were way too aggressive for my tastes. I could clean them up just fine, but the guitar in this configuration was simply way too aggressive for the styles of music I play. For instance, when I recorded the rhythm track above, the guitar’s volume was set at around 3, the amp’s volume was at 2, and I used the Master to get clean headroom. Any higher on the guitar, and the gain the Blackouts produce would just slam the amp’s front end (BTW, I used an Aracom RoxBox 18 Watt head and a 1 X 12 cabinet with an Eminence Red Coat “The Governer” speaker). It sounds great clean, and if I were to purhase this guitar, I’d have Adam swap out the Blackouts and go with a pair of ’59 humbuckers or Alnico Pro II’s. They’re very vintage sounding, and a lot more full-bodied.

With respect to the natural aggressiveness from the pickups, while I played with the guitar a lot in the past month, I just couldn’t get inspired to write anything that took advantage of the high gain of the pickups. It just wasn’t in me this round, which is a shame because it is such a fine instrument in every other way. What I’d like to do is play the guitar with different pickups.

So what about with high gain? Damn! This guitar simply screams! With the volume knob dimed, it slams the front-end of an amp and causes immediate saturation! I usually have to bolster my Strat with a clean boost or an overdrive pedal to achieve the kind of high-gain this little monster can produce by itself! It’s very cool to hear!

Overall Impression

I think this guitar would be metalhead’s wet dream come true in stock form. In fact, Adam constructed and equipped the guitar with thrash metal in mind, and tried to see if he could get James Hetfield of Metallica to play it. Alas, he couldn’t find a way last time they were in town. But I can attest to what this guitar can do to an amp! But with different pickups, I’m sure I’d give it a perfect score.

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Saint Guitars Messenger Baritone

Saint Guitars Messenger Bariton

Saint Guitars Messenger Bariton

Just wanted to share some initial sound bites that I created with a couple of new pieces of gear. The first is a Saint Guitars Messenger Baritone. Before now, I had never played a baritone, and really didn’t know what to expect. But after playing around with it for a few days, I have to say that I just love how this thing sounds. Baritones have been getting more and more popular as of late due to their very low, natural tone, and several metal players have started using them because of this. But I truly believe that a good test of a guitar or an amp is how it sounds clean. Played clean, you can’t hide mistakes. So here’s a clip that I created this morning to demonstrate the beautiful, clear tone the Messenger Baritone creates.

The guitar was played through the Normal channel of a Reason SM25 amp. As you can hear, the tone is deep, but surprisingly chimey due to the bright-sounding walnut body and neck, Adam Hernandez’ tone wood of choice. It took awhile to get used to playing the wider frets, but once I got a handle on it, I just started loving how this guitar plays and sounds!

Aracom Amps RoxBox 18 Watt Head

Aracom Amps RoxBox 18 Watt Head

Aracom Amps RoxBox 18 Watt Head

You know me, in addition to just digging on overdrive pedals, I love low-power amps! When Jeff at Aracom initially contacted me, I had never even heard of Aracom amps! And I pride myself on knowing about these things! Yikes! So when I perused his site, I was immediately taken by the RoxBox. And after just a day of using it, I have to say that I LOVE THIS LITTLE AMP!!! First, because it’s a low-wattage amp, which makes it very versatile, and secondly because it comes equipped with EL-84 power tubes! There’s a brightness in the EL-84 tubes that just makes my soul reverberate, and I just dig the sounds that this amp can produce. But just as with the Messenger above, the big test for me is how the amp sounds clean. And baby, it sounds great clean! The sound bite I have here uses the same clip above, but layers on a lead part using just my Strat played through Channel 1 of the RoxBox. Channel 1 has TONS of clean headroom, and even ‘buckers have a hard time making this channel grind. This will definitely score well with the pedal freaks like myself. Anyway give it a listen:

This little amp is nothing short of impressive, and priced at $895 for the head, it’s also an incredible value!!! Kudos to Jeff at Aracom for creating an attainable hand-wired amp! Looks like I’m going to be shelling out bucks for both the Reason SM25 AND the Aracom RoxBox.

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