Of all the guitars reviewed in One, Two, this had the lowest action when it arrived. So low that the bottom E couldn't be played, it was lying on the strings. The Factory (that's The Factory not the factory... it's a name, y'see... ah, forget it) had rushed one of their OS 932 standards down from Nenthead in Cumbria, high on a hill where the Overwater Guitar Company is based.
A few twists on the bridge screws later (and still with an action that hugged the 24 low fat frets) we were ready for work. The 932 benefits from the judiciously chosen materials of a privately made instrument, plus the consistency of construction that comes from a small "production line".
The straight-through Brazilian mahogany neck is winged by a mahogany body, but capped by a gorgeous, tiger flamed maple top treated to a lustrous blue finish. Other options include red, brown, green and sunburst, but all allow the grain to grin through.
You wouldn't forget this neck in a hurry. It's not the slim profile nor the grand prix fingerboard, but the fact that it goes on forever — not just to the two octave 24th fret, but into the back of the body. The rear is carved away, so the heel is non-existent.
Schaller machines inhabit the neat, rosewood veneered headstock and a Schaller bridge (their version of Gibson's tunable TP6) balances on two screw pillars at the far end, presenting the normal height and intonation adjustments. The classy appearance is assisted by extra carving on the maple top that gives the Overwater a false "waist", but it's then spoiled by a collection of naff plastic control knobs better suited to a tranny radio. Tug on the volume controls and you can swap the blade Lawrence L500 pickups from parallel to series winding.
Lawrences are powerful pickups but have an impersonal, cool edge to my ears and that's an opinion reinforced by the Overwater. It's a steely and metallic sounding guitar with a glassy clarity — a cert to cut through from the back of the band. But for soothing, jazzy "pillow talk"... no, not quite there.
The Overwater gets on better with its tail pickup where the clean tone is fine for sharp rhythm work or piercing lead lines. The neck blades bash away for the bass strings, but lack depth for the top three. Part of that could be down to the light strings, which might also explain the disappointing short sustain.
The OS 932 looks lovely and has many attractive touches such as the rosewood truss rod cover, mother-of-pearl markers for the controls (no numbers) and diamond shaped inlays along the ebony fretboard.
As a "privately" made instrument (ie, not mass manufactured) it can offer you individuality but at a price — £508 is a lot of money and custom guitars don't always hold their resale value. A biter, not a singer.
Review by Paul Colbert
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