A low priced professional instrument, smooth and extremely well finished. The body and neck is reminiscent of Leo Fender's early basses.
The review sample was unadjusted although the truss rod was correctly set. However a quick three minute adjustment with a screwdriver corrected the high action, intonation and string spacing. The adjustments are made by removing the cover plate over the bottom pick-up and bridge.
All load bearing parts are made from hardened steel which should give trouble-free service. The base plate has five holes with three mounting screws and extra screws can be recommended.
The tone control operates in an effective way only on the last section of its rotation. This is due to a linear potentiometer fitted on the current model which is being changed for a logarithmic pot on other models coming into the country.
Existing instruments can easily be modified by changing the pot for a 250K log pot with a 0.2 uf capacitor. The body is made from solid European ash and the neck is one piece of European rock maple. Solid rosewood, nicely patterned with a white celluloid bound edge inlaid with edge dots is used on the fingerboard. Nicely fitted frets and large inlaid position markers of one of the better and durable imitation mother of pearl materials gives the guitar a good feel.
Good tones as on traditional jazz basses are derived from the well designed pick-ups and there are a few extra tones as well. There is a distinct sound at the beginning of each note that marks this as a professional instrument. The emphasis is on works and tones and not gold finish or fancy decoration.
The Burns gave a sound like a large and good acoustic bass guitar (treble up on guitar and down on the amplifier). This could have possibilities for a mainly acoustic folk band.
Conclusion: Gherson guitars are made in Italy where hand craftsmanship is still economical and a lot of this craftsmanship has gone into this bass.
There is a basic soundness and quality to this instrument that no amount of cheap machinery can produce, and with the exception of the tone control, the right sort of attention has been given to the right sort of details. This is a first-class guitar for the professional at a budget price which includes a hard case, a decent strap and a high quality lead.
Sound tests were made with the following equipment:
A Burris Combination amplifier.
An H/H IC100 Combination amplifier.
A Fender Bassman.
A large 1 x 18" Reflex Cabinet.
A Hi-Watt 100 watt amplifier feeding a horn loaded bass bin with a 15" Crescent.
A punchy sound came from the Hi-Watt amplifier and Bass bin. The Fender Bassman boomed as one might expect from the set-up using the big 18" speaker but with the extra treble available from the guitar over the original a reasonable balance was achieved.
Retail Price £102.66
High quality woods have been used for the body and neck as on the Gherson bass also reviewed in this issue and the quality of workmanship and accuracy is generally to the same high standard.
This guitar is obviously intended to meet the demand for a Stratocaster type copy.
The electronics however are not quite as good as the bass and need some adjustment before they sound reasonably like the original.
The first problem encountered was in the tuning. Three double string clips hold down the strings between the nut and the machine heads and whilst the clips holding strings 1 and 2, and 3 and 4 are useful, the clip holding the bottom two strings has to be removed in order to tune the guitar successfully.
The machine heads are robust and of good quality and of a similar make to the ones on the Gherson bass, although we did not like them as much. The guitar arrived with the truss rod and intonation set correctly, but the action too high for comfort; a quick adjustment corrected this.
A solid bridge built on American micro-adjustment principles except that the body is shell shaped and encloses part of the working parts. This is a nice feature and could prevent the loss of a spring or screw that inevitably works loose over a period of time.
The string holder is massive and well attached to the body but the plate around the jack socket is not as well finished as the rest of the instrument.
The pick-ups have as much bite as recent Stratocaster pick-ups although the pole pieces are not at different heights like the real thing; this gives an unbalanced sound on chord work. The makers could re-adjust the magnet sizes to improve the pick-ups. The pick-up selector switch does not operate like the original in that the brightest tone is in the centre and this can be confusing if you are used to the well tried system. This is the result of using a switch meant for a two pick-up guitar with additional contacts on it and is not truly a position switch. One cannot select pick-ups one, two or three as one gets three different tone mixtures which is pleasant but not what one expects from a guitar which looks as good as this.
Little variation in the tone control until the knob came to the end of it's rotation is a minor problem that can easily be remedied by fitting a 500K Log pot with a 0.02 uf capacitor attached. The importers assure us that this modification is going ahead on future batches.
The neck dimensions are certainly of the right tolerance but still slightly more bulky in handling than the best of American Stratocaster necks (many of which have been probably shaved or sanded down during their long working lives). Although very like a modern Fender neck, it is not quite so comfortable or unobtrusive.
White binding on the edge of the fingerboard leaves a nice smooth finish but some of the frets on this instrument are not so well finished leaving a few sharp edges over the plastic binding; the frets also seem a little high.
The guitar was sound-checked with the following amplifier equipment:
A 10 watt Japanese combo which sounded reasonably well all considered
A Laney combo which sounded quite reasonable
An H/H Combo which made the guitar sound more convincingly like the original due to the adjustment available from the tone control.
Conclusion: This is not a professional guitar yet like the Gherson bass, it has the potential to be a very good and even pro class guitar with a few modifications. For semi-pro and amateur guitarists the guitar represents very good value for money and the price includes a solid case, decent strap and high quality lead.
Retail Price £91-80
This is a smooth beautiful double cut-away solid guitar with a minimum of decoration, a nice neck, Grovers twin humbucking pick-ups, all the knobs you would expect and a phase reversal switch between the two pickups.
The lacquer is a beautiful dark cherry red with a finish almost impossible to fault.
The body curves are well shaped, good looking and make the guitar a pleasure to hold and comfortable to play.
The construction and outside finish is superb, but the compartment inside the body, although well screened with copper foil, has interconnecting wires that are unnecessarily long between the controls and come quite close to the copper screening on this sample. The soldering on the joints is quite adequate and the components used such as the pots and jacks are of American manufacture and are of a high standard; they should also last a long time.
A strap button positioned on the end of the body is strong and attractive but the one on the back of the heel is not attractive and too long for this graceful guitar.
The machine heads are enclosed Grovers with a high standard of Nickel plating; they are fitted accurately and even with use they should last for many years.
Knobs and pick-ups are neatly fitted and little metal dots on the front enable the player to precisely re-set a control by lining the dots with the numbers marked on the tone and volume controls. The phase switch is more robust than the pick-up selector switch, which is a pleasant change.
The only problem with outside fitting is the bridge. Although it is wired normally to provide all the range of adjustments that one would want, it doesn't seem to be quite in the right place, as the bottom string bearing point cannot be removed back far enough to get the octave in tune with the 12th fret.
This is not however typical of other samples of this guitar which we have seen and in any case the fault can easily be adjusted by a repair man.
Setting for a low action by turning the height adjustment screws on the bridge leaves the screws sticking up above the height of the strings and although the screws are well finished and not sharp, they could catch the hand. Less thread is recommended on these adjustment screws.
Other bridge adjustments affecting stting intonation, string facing and btidge height work smoothly and without trouble.
There is a small action problem which does occur occasionally with Guild solids. The neck is not set back far enough from the body axis, consequently when the bridge is in its lowest position, the action is reasonably low but probably not low enough to please low action enthusiasts, which is a pity as the standard of fretting would certainly permit a very low action. This would be a quality control point for Guild to look at in the future.
The guitar is fitted with Guild humbuckers which are adjustable for height tilt and individual string balance and all work very well. With the guitar playing only inches from the amplifier and speakers, no pickup feed-back problems are noticeable. Fine woods on the solid body and neck give a middling weight and good balance to this instrument and contribute to the remarkable natural sustain also derived from the heavy brass string holding block held firmly to the body.
The neck is slim and comfortable to play and the finger-board frets and inlays well fitted without sharp edges.
Sound tests made with different amplifiers gave the following results.
With an ancient Burns Sonic and an HH IC100 amplifier a cold and clicky sound.
A Fender Bassman, an ideal sound with the bass off.
A Hi-Watt 100 watt, a middle sound with sustain.
The high output from the guitar drives all the amplifiers easily.
Conclusion: A graceful and beautiful guitar, impressive for its craftsmanship and value marred by only a couple of small points that Guild could easily put right without adding to the cost.
Retail Price £224.64
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