I finally get the chance to play a guitar I’ve read about for 15 years… a Gordon Smith.
After my story on Holy State’s Gordon Smith GS1 (read it here)… local Brisbane guitarist & guitarnerd reader Ben said he actually owned a Gordon Smith that he’d found in Cash Convertors (gah!) and that I could borrow it to give a test drive. I was pretty excited… I’d read about these guitars for years in the British guitars mags that I love and they always gave them great reviews.
Ben dropped the guitar off to Tym Guitars, just in time for me to have band practice that night. I was pretty excited… I was hoping the guitar would be as good as what I’d read. And I wasn’t disappointed.
It was like a ultra deluxe Gibson Melody Maker. The workmanship was topnotch… I’d read a lot that Gordon Smith had refined his manufacturing process so that the factory consisted of three people, which for one of Britain’s biggest guitar makers is quite impressive.
For example, the neck join is ultra neat and solid as a rock. No frills and all business.
The body is pretty damn thin. It’s about the same as a Melody Maker, which makes this guitar a really nice weight. It’s sort of got a SG feel, but with better body balance. No neck dive.
The neck is ultra thin and pretty wide. It takes a little getting used to but is very comfortable and easy to play. It’s sort of like the ’62 reissue SG’s but with the rounded fretboard edges this neck feels really worn in. One thing about this guitar… which probably explains why they’re such great value… is that the wood isn’t perfect. There’s a few knots here and there which you’d never see on a Gibson or Fender. But I actually think it adds to the character of this guitar. And when it plays this good, who cares?
The fretboard has the same thing. There’s a remarkable bit of figuring right in the middle, but again… this neck is pretty damn good. And the fretwork is great. Smooth as silk and low action.
The bridge is a very simple wrap around with no intonation but it works. I couldn’t really hear any problems up the high end… it all seemed to be in tune to my tinnitus damaged ears. Also, Ben had swapped the original Gordon Smith pickups for a sweet set of Brierleys. That man certainly knows how to wind a pickup.
Headstock is clean and simple. No fancy inlays… just the classic Gordon Smith logo. There’s no trussrod cover as it’s adjusted at the base of the neck, a’la Maton. This is to add strength to headstock, which as most Gibson owners know is prone to breaking thanks to the amount of wood removed to fit the truss rod up the top end.
Tuning is pretty good… I think these are Schallers. The snot coloured pegs suit the general vibe.
Another quite unique feature is the brass nut. It’s sort of a Danelectro thing, but I like it and it adds a bit of zing to the sound.
So yeah, this guitar kicks ass. I honestly didn’t want to give it back…. I could be very happy with this guitar. I think a double cutaway Gordon Smith is on the cards in the near future. I was lucky enough to buy the original Gordon Smith pickups out of this beast, and they’re going straight into a black 70′s Matsumoku Les Paul copy I have… so that will have to suffice for now.
I hope you guitarnerd’s in the UK realise how lucky you are. If you don’t own one… why not? THEY’RE BASICALLY FREE!