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Posts Tagged ‘saint guitars’

Just got these pics in. Goldie is really starting to take shape now. Adam took a couple of weeks for the glue to cure between the mohagany and maple top and the ebony fretboard and maple neck, which explains the temporary hiatus of pictures on the build progress. I am SO amazed about how it’s looking!

I really love the first shot where you can see how the body was cut from the mahogany and maple billets. I’m so stoked about this!

For more information on Saint Guitars, check out the web site!

Note that I am not affiliated with Saint Guitar Compay, but I have gotten to know both Adam and Jon (who runs their ops), and they’re a great couple of guys who are totally passionate about what they do. Be sure to drop them a line!

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Wow! Goldie’s, my Saint Guitars Goldtop Messenger is really starting to take shape. In this next set of photos, Adam has cut and shaped the general profile for the Goldtop’s neck, and the neck is ready for final shaping. As the pictures progress, the neck curve is really becoming evident. As far as the neck profile is concerned, the radius at the nut is 12″. Adam typically uses a wide profile, but as my fingers are kind of short, playing up high on the neck can be difficult. So to compensate, Adam will gradually tapered the neck curve to be a flatter C near the body than at the nut. By the way, the wood here is rock maple.

Every time I see pictures of the progress of this guitar, I start to salivate in anticipation.

For more information on Saint Guitars, go to the Saint Guitar Company web site!

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It’s hard to imagine that I’m actually having a guitar custom made for me from Saint Guitar Company, but it’s happening. This post will be a “sticky” post so you can follow the progress of the guitar with me. By the way, with this guitar, I’ve picked a fairly unconventional combination of woods: Walnut back, maple top, rock maple neck and ebony fretboard. Adam Hernandez and I are hoping the result will be a brightly voiced guitar that will have the incredible sustain Saint Guitars are known for.

Progress Report

May 4, 2009 – With the first set of pictures, the billets have been selected and cut, and the neck is being shaped. Forgot to mention that the headstock plate is koa. I know that I chose a bunch of woods, but I chose each wood to achieve a specific tone profile that I’m hoping the woods will produce, and this was done with literally a couple of hours of discussion with Adam. Working with Adam is just so easy. The cool thing is that he’s so open to exploring different things at this point in his luthier career, so it has been really fun discussing the building of the guitar with him.

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For the last couple of years, I’ve had a serious case of GAS – not that I pulled the trigger and bought a bunch of stuff during that time – I did get a couple of pedals here and there to slake my appetite, but no major purchases until recently. Now I can say I’m gassed out – at least for now. If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you’ll know what I’ve purchased, but I’ll recap the major purchases I’ve made in the last couple of months.

Aracom VRX22 Head with a custom Aracom 1 X 12 cabinet with a Jensen P12N

What an amp! I’ve shared with Jeff Aragaki, founder and designer of Aracom Amps, that the VRX22 is the perfect amp – at least to me. It’s a low power amp that packs a HUGE punch; both in tone and volume. It’s something I can use either in my home studio, or gigging. No matter what volume level I’m playing at, the VRX22 simply sounds awesome, never getting flabby in the low-end, and sporting what I consider to be the best Master Volume in the business.

For more information, check out the Aracom Amps web site.

Prestige Guitars Heritage Elite

The more I play this guitar, the more I fall in love with it. When I first got the guitar to evaluate it, I felt that all the adornments were a bit over the top. I’m a fairly uncomplicated guy, and I appreciate beauty in simplicity. But as time wore on, and I got to know this beauty queen better, the more she grew on me. So I decided to keep the guitar. Her new name is “Sugar” because amazingly enough, not only does she sound and play sweet, she actually smells like bubbling brown sugar! Could be because of the maple, but when I opened up the case for the first time, I was overtaken by the sweet smell of this guitar! So that’s how she got her name. She’s an incredibly expressive guitar, capable of producing gorgeous, ringing cleans to heavy grit. Brightly voiced, her tone just cuts through a mix like butter. I am really enjoying this guitar! Here’s a clip of both the VRX22 and the Heritage Elite:

For more information, go to the Prestige Guitars web site.

Saint Guitars Goldtop Messenger

In answer to my wife’s latest question, “Honey, how many guitars do you need?” I use the standard answer, “Just one more…” This was the exchange we had when I told her I was having Adam Hernandez, a close friend and founder of Saint Guitar Company, build me a guitar. It’s a Goldtop with a twist: Instead of the classic single cut body, I’m having the goldtop done on a double-cut. The body back is solid walnut with a maple top, and rock maple neck topped with an ebony fretboard. I wanted to go for a totally non-standard mix of woods that would produce a very bright tone. The bright tone, combined with the super sustain of Saint guitars in general, promises to be one sweet sounding tone machine. Of course, time will only tell, but I have high hopes for this guitar!

This isn’t even mentioning the smaller things I’ve purchased, but at least for now, I’m GASSED out – I’m also broke – again. 🙂

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My friend, Vinni Smith of V-Picks is an incredibly talented guitar player, and one of the things that has really sparked our friendship is our love of Peter Frampton’s music. It was hilarious to find out that his favorite guitar solo in the world is the middle lead break in the song “Do You Feel Like We Do?” from Frampton Comes Alive. It has been my all-time favorite guitar solo since I was in junior high way back when. Now, after all these years, Vinni shows how to play the middle and ending solos in the following clips:

In this next solo, Vinni is demonstrating his new pick, the Dimension, while playing with Saint Guitar Benchmark.

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Vinni Smith is such a great guitarist. He just released a new video entitled, “Why should you play V-Picks?” Yeah, it’s to hawk his picks, but everything he says is true. Having played V-Picks for a few months on my electrics, I just gotta say that these picks are the absolute bomb! I use only V-Picks on electric guitar. And that electric guitar he’s playing? That’s right, it’s a Saint Guitar Benchmark. 🙂

For more information, go to the V-Picks site!

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clean-both4.75 Tone Bones - Almost perfect but not quite

Prestige Heritage Elite - Lite Sunburst

Prestige Heritage Elite - Lite Sunburst

Prestige Guitars Heritage Elite

Summary: Is it possible to build a better Les Paul. Prestige Guitars thinks so, and I think they’re on to something with the Heritage Elite. With its stunning looks and gorgeous voice, this is a great, all-around versatile guitar that will fit any style of music.

Pros: Very full and rich sound, and all the accoutrements make this guitar a real looker. Very nice treble pickup with higher gain settings.

Cons: This is just a little one. I’m not fond of the abalone outlining on the the neck as to me it takes away from the gorgeous vine inlay. But that’s just me. Also the intonation was off on the 6th string – again, it wasn’t a big deal – I just fixed it and went off to the races.

Price: $1800 Canadian / ~$1450 US

Specs:

  • 24 3/4” scale length
  • 1 11/16” nut width
  • Abalone bound mahogany body
  • Carved AAA Grade quilted maple top
  • One piece mahogany neck
  • Abalone bound rosewood fingerboard
  • Floral vine fingerboard inlay
  • Mother of pearl prestige logo & decal
  • Seymour Duncan SH1-59 (neck) SH4-JB (bridge) Humbucker pickups
  • 2 Vol. / 2 Tone / 3-way toggle controls
  • Tune-o-matic bridge & stop bar
  • Grover tuners
  • All gold hardware
  • Available in natural sunburst & ebony finishes

Tone Bone Rating: 4.75 – 6th string was slightly off in intonation, and I had to adjust it. Weird, because all the other strings were perfectly intoned. If it hadn’t been for that, the guitar would get a 5.0 rating.

Didn’t I just write a First Impressions? Well, I haven’t put this guitar down all day because I was having so much fun with it, so I decided to just go ahead and write the review. I’ll do a gig report once I’ve played it in a gig setting – which will be tomorrow. 🙂

Fit and Finish

What can I say? This guitar is gorgeous, and except for my little nit, everything is perfect on this guitar. I love the stain burst finish that really accentuates the quilted maple top. There’s no glue marks or finish mistakes to be found on this beauty, and the abalone binding around the body and ebonized head stock is to die for! The neck joint is perfect as well, and is nicely set with no extra bulk, so reaching notes in the upper registers is an absolute breeze!

Prestige really thought out the design of this guitar really well. The gold hardware is a nice touch, and the Grover tuners are the bomb. Even though they’re not locking, the guitar stays in tune. I’ve only had to hit the tuner twice all day due to temperature changes in my garage/studio. The vine inlay on the neck is oh-so-stunning, and reminiscent of high-end guitars I’ve seen and played that cost a helluva lot more than this beauty queen. How Prestige was able to build a great-looking guitar with so much boutique bling at a fairly reasonable price is beyond me, but hey! Who’s complaining? Definitely not me.

Normally, I can’t stand pick guards, but somehow, the pick guard on the Heritage Elite is really unobtrusive. This guitar just “works.” I dig it.

Playability

I have to admit that after playing “Goldie,” a Saint Guitar Company Benchmark that has a wide profile neck, it was tough to get used to the comparatively narrower neck profile of this guitar. But once I got my hands dialed in, I gotta say that this guitar is very easy to play. The C-shape neck is a joy to play, and the rosewood fretboard is nice and smooth, yet with enough texture to give great tactile feedback.

The thin body makes positioning very easy – especially for a big guy like myself that has a middle-aged gut, so how it hangs from the strap is important. I didn’t have to make any positional adjustments with this guitar, which is something I have to do with a lot of guitars.

The shorter scale was something I also had to get used to, but that’s not even a nit. Again, once I got my hands dialed in to play this guitar, it was so very easy to play. The action was perfect out of the box – nice and low, which is how I like it. They strung it with D’Addario 10’s to boot, which is my preferred gauge and a brand I’ve used for years (though I’ve lately been using almost exclusively DR strings), so the strings were instantly familiar-feeling. As I mentioned, the only ding that the guitar got was the intonation on the 6th string. I understand that this could be due to shipping, but it was off enough where I had to get my micro allen wrench and adjust it. That always makes me nervous with these demo guitars because I don’t want scratch them out of respect for the manufacturer’s hard work. But all went smoothly, so no harm, no foul.

How It Sounds

In a word, “gorgeous.” It has that classic Les Paul fatness, but it’s also brightly voiced, like a Saint Guitar. It’s not as EQ balanced in its brightness like a Saint is, but for what it offers, this guitar really kicks ass tonally. The Heritage Elite packs tons of nice harmonics and overtones that add complexity to its tonal presentation. And another thing that I really dig about this guitar is that it has tons of sustain, which really comes out in the treble pickup, especially at high gain settings! I’ve played tons and tons of guitars, and most have ear shattering treble pickups. The Saint Guitars and this Heritage Elite have the most usable treble pickups I’ve played. I think this is due to the guitars’ inherent, natural sustain. In any case, check out some sound samples I made:

Clean – Both Pickups

Clean – Neck Pickup

Clean – Bridge Pickup

Dirty – Both Pickups

Dirty – Neck Pickup

Dirty – Bridge Pickup

Clean clips were played in the Clean channel of my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, while the dirty clips were played in the Drive channel. For the dirty treble pickup clip, I slammed the front-end of the amp with a wide-open Creation Audio Labs Mk.4.23 clean boost, the best clean boost on the planet. That brought on tons of overtones and rich harmonics! Sweet.

Overall Impressions

I really like this guitar. It looks great, it sounds great and it plays great! By the way, this is their top of the line model, and at $1800 Canadian, it’s an incredible value proposition. Believe me when I tell you that you’re getting a boutique-quality guitar for a great price with the Prestige Heritage Elite!

For more information, go to the Prestige Guitars Web Site.

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