If you have read previous blogs you may know that I love playing guitar. As described previously, my love of active pickups has gone through stages. Now they are my number one choice. I like passives and as explained before, it tends to depend what style I would like to play. Since my music taste is mainly towards heavy rock then the pickups are a vital part of that tone.
This brings me onto the fact I have done the same with guitars. Although I have (and have had) various models and makes, Gordon Smith guitars made me feel instantly at home. Guitars are about feel, design and versitility making us want to pick them up and play them. I have just received my third Gordon Smith. I can play all of them for heavy rock but that is not all they can do. When we describe versatility I feel Gordon Smith guitars have it in spades. First of all they are ‘hand built’ in the UK as explained in a previous blog. That certainly in this case equates to high quality and each model can be customised to your own specs.
Apart from the fact the company is unique, why did I order another? I wanted a natural finish with Fishman Fluence Modern actives installed in a GS design. Their graduate body shape is, for me, perfect. I requested a thick body as I am used to my own Gibson Les Paul. The tonal characteristics of mahogany with ebony is very subjective. As are stainless fret and brass nuts. For me the sound of distortion in particular should not be muddy and have a clarity. It is why I tend to steer towards active pickups. The Fishmans being multi voiced means they can even be warm and clear when the distortion is removed. It is a no brainer for me to also have a brass nut. This adds to the definition. I really like stainless frets as they have a smooth action when the string is bent. I could write a whole blog on stainless and nickel frets. I like both for different reasons. All I can say is that now, if I custom order (and it will be Gordon Smiths) I will go for stainless over nickel every time.
What I love is choice. I still get a buzz from all makes of guitar. Gibson, Ibanez, Fender, Jackson, Epiphone, Framus and any other brands who produce models I really appreciate. It is never boring to see them. My musical taste dictates the guitars I choose (or that choose me!) As on my previous blogs from here and james-atkinson.co.uk. This taste stems from 1980s NWOBHM that lead me onto all hard rock from the 70s onwards. As soon as my younger ears heard this I was changed. I can not state how exciting it is, for me, to see a live hard rock/heavy metal band live. At the moment we are in the midst of the global pandemic meaning live music is just not happening. I feel for the musicians and audiences missing this interaction. Don’t think that the excitement stops with metal as I have similar feelings from acoustic songwriting. Take The Unthanks as I just dig their music. I have vowed to see them live when possible, right now I have to settle for the internet……just not the same. Please check their albums out as you will be carried away into a swirling modern traditional atmospheric treat.
I digress, back to the new guitar?
Have a look at the two photographs above. Just look at that top. How well shaped and gorgeous. Feels incredibly nice to play. I am used to the Fishman modern sound. With this guitar I supplied the Moderns, bought from Thomann, and the great luthiers at Gordon Smith worked out how to fit them and incorporated the HF lift and two voice option. They have been wonderfully installed. A battery box in the rear and a guitar that suits them so well. I have played it through valve heads and the Kemper. Like my other Gordon Smiths it is full of character. Very stable tuning coming from locking 18.1 ratios and a neck that is easy to adjust. All three Gordon Smiths have the same easy adjustment. No taking tiny screws from the headstock.
I use the Kemper more than my valve amps. It may be that I like consistency and Kemper are brilliant at updating functions. Playing heavy tones with this guitar and my favourite profiles are just what I love. I have another guitar that has an Evertune bridge and Fishman Moderns. It is a Ben Weinman (The Dillinger Escape Plan) ESP LTD. That is another type of beast. I like the Evertune as I can pick that guitar up at any point, and know it is in tune. Also strumming and picking hard is a breeze with such a bridge. The Gordon Smith has tone, with my valve amps, played loud, riffs rumble and leads sustain for days. Pull a tone pot and give or take high frequencies, useful as actives can amplify everything you input on the fretboard.
If you want a British guitar that is handmade with no CNC then Gordon Smith are a good option. For me they are the number one choice. Remember they you can build a custom version of their models. Look at the options on the website and ask if there is an option on top of the many available. You will not regret it!