On Tuesday November 29, 2005, The Hussys played The Night and Day cafe in Manchester, which was their first gig outside of Scotland. They were the 2nd band on, and had a half-hour slot to entertain the vrowd of 100 or so.
¬© RJW. 2005
Gordon-Smith Twelve-string Features After listening to the music of Krist Novoselic, Blue Man Group and others, I decided that I wanted a 12-string electric. For about a year I looked in a dozen music shops in several cities, and it quickly became apparent that my choices were very limited. After playing and rejecting models by Yamaha, Burns and Dean because they were either uncomfortable or too difficult to play, my only options were a Japanese Fender at £650, or an even more expensive Rickenbacker. Shortly afterwards, I found out about Gordon Smith, who made guitars to order, and who had a 12-string option. This was clearly the only way forward, and to boot, it would come in at just under £600. I contacted the Partington-based manufacturer in 2005, and the guitar was built to my order (the number is just over 10,000). From the dozen shapes available, I chose an SG, so that it is essentially half of the Slash/Zeppelin doubleneck. It has one black GSG humbucker, partly because it would save me money, and partly because I figured that doubling the number of strings would make more of a difference to the sound than doubling the number of pickups. There are therefore two rotary controls, one of which pulls out to swap to single-coil mode. It has the basic wrapover bar bridge, and unbranded sealed tuners. The guitar has includes a 22-fret all-in-one maple neck and fingerboard. Iím not sure if the body is Brazilian mahogany or cedar. The finish is my own ďseaburstĒ color scheme (a green/blue gradient), and you can see the grain through. Itís 3.7cm thick and weighs 3.1kg. There was a decent gig-bag and a few plectrums. * Neck/Scale (Fat, Thin, Jumbo Frets, Rosewood, Maple, etc.) Sound I play a very wide range of stuff, from Bush and Foo Fighters, through to Michael Jackson and The Supernaturals, and even movie scores. I play with a pick and with my fingers, and both sound good when itís played clean. The tone is nice and rich, and suits me perfectly. Through a very cheap amp, it sounds ok. The high strings ring nicely, and striking a chord sounds kind of like the Cranberries. Through a There is a slight bit of rattle with the low E-strings, but I think thatís more down to my ability than the guitar itself, as I tend to strike towards the body rather than straight down. Iíve yet to crank it up to high volumes. Rich/Full sound? Bright sound? What kind of sounds can the guitar make? How much variety? Likes and dislikes? Action, Fit & Finish The guitar arrived in a car, wrapped in bubblewrap, in a cardboard box. Even so, it was perfectly in tune (a problem with a 12!), and even 3 weeks later I didnít need to touch it. After Iíd had it a few days, I noticed a very minor scratch, and two minor scuffs on the top horn, but I couldnít be sure if they were there when I got it or not. The action is fine, and as far as I can tell, the pickups and bridge are well-adjusted, as you would expect from a company that makes everything by hand at a rate of about one guitar a day. On the whole, the string pairs are close together, and itís easy to play. As would be expected for any SG (or for any 12-string), it's slightly neck-heavy- it balances on one finger at about the 20th fret (my acoustic balances where the 23rd would be). But this is nothing a decent wide strap doesn't fix. * Properly bookmatched top? Reliability/Durability Iíve been playing for 10 years, and I donít really play gigs, but Iím sure the guitar would withstand it. I suppose nobody would really play live without any backup, but in the case of a twelve, itís not the sort of thing where you would have two of them, so a six would have to do. * Does the hardware seem like it will last? * Is the finish good enough to last, or does it seem thin and easy to wear off with lots of playing? * Are the strap buttons solid? Customer Support I had several emails going back and forth to get the specs finalized, and response times ranged from same-day to 2 weeks. I spoke to them on the phone for pre-sale advice, and I even emailed them an image attachment to arrange the paint matching. It took around 6 months from scratch, and they even made a special delivery for me. Basically, you get the impression that the company really cares about you. I donít really know if there is a warranty or not, but Iím sure they would be more than happy to talk to you about it were anything to go wrong. Overall Rating My main guitar before this was a cheap acoustic, so I have a good variety of instruments. I was told it had been several years since they made their last 12-string, and so this is the only guitar of itís kind in the world, and obviously with a one-off, you wouldnít be able to replace it. In the end, any review of a Gordon-Smith guitar is essentially a review of the company itself, and to that end I have no complaints. For an electric 12-string, the only other guitar I would really consider would be the limited edition Strat I mentioned at the start. For a regular guitar, I would probably also consider getting another GSG as a treat to myself, but I donít foresee myself buying too many! * love / hate? What is your favorite feature? Anything you wish it had? I suppose for more variety, getting the guitar wired for stereo might have been an option, and I wish Iíd asked them about that before ordering, but thatís only a slight thing that doesnít really affect my opinion.