Here it is:
As you can see, I installed the new black pickguard. The tone improved instantly. As I was screwing it on, I could hear the transparent bloom of string separation. It had notes of almond with a chocolatey finish. It also looks way cooler. Like someone on facebook commented: It went from a tuxedo t-shirt to a tuxedo.
Anyway, here’s my basic review.
First of all, the neck is great. As I have mentioned, I’m a big fan of the 25.5″ neck scale. It feels snappier and it doesn’t feel as cramped higher up the neck. I also like the flat 12″ radius. It feels so nice for playing lead. The neck profile is very comfortable for my hands. I hate fat necks, and I don’t really like the super skinny shredder necks either. This one is slim without feeling too skinny. It feels good. It is strung with 11s, but it’s not hard to play, partly due to the bigger frets. They’re not jumbo frets (like on my old PRS DGT), but they’re bigger than typical frets.
The sound: My first impressions were mostly positive. The neck P-90 is full-sounding without being too thick, and the bridge humbucker is nice and chunky without being too harsh. However, the in between setting was awful. Seriously. It sucked. I’m not sure what they were thinking with the wiring on this thing. The middle pickup selector put the pickups out of phase and split the humbucker. The resulting sound was thin, too quiet, and über-twangy. It sounded okay with a totally clean tone, but it was completely unusable with overdrive.
I cracked it open and decided to do a standard 3-way wiring setup. The result is much more pleasing and usable to me. It bridges the gap between the neck and bridge. On two-pickup guitars, I usually spend about 95% of my playing time in the middle position, so it was really important for me to get it working right on this guitar.
This guitar has a tremolo system. I don’t usually like trems, but I was really curious about this one. It’s kind of a variation on the Bigsby, called the Vibrola or something like that. Supposedly, it’s smoother, more stable, and easier to restring than a Bigsby. I have no firsthand experience with a Bigsby, so I can’t comment on that comparison. I can say that while it is very smooth, it is not 100% stable if you use it too vigorously. Some retuning is necessary every now and then.
At this moment, I am pretty happy with the guitar. It plays very well and sounds excellent. It has a very cool tone, and it looks and feels very unique. Some people think that they look gaudy and cheap, but I like the way it looks, especially with the black guard.
I have already gone back and forth with myself about the possibility of selling/trading it. I definitely wanted to get rid of it before I decided to fix the wiring setup. At this point, though, I’m pretty pleased with it. The only guitars that I would be interesting in trading for it would be luthier-built instruments like a Suhr tele or something like a Koll. I have no interest in another Gibson-type instrument. I think I’m done with Les Pauls. I mean, I wouldn’t mind having one, but since I’m not rich and can’t really justify owning a bunch of guitars, I have to limit myself to guitars that I actually play frequently.
For now, the Duesenberg is staying. However, I can’t say for how long.