REVIEW: Ormsby TX GTR Eaton Special

Of all the Ormsby guitar designs, my favourites personally are the SX and the TX. Something about the SX just feels super-right to me and it’s always a treat to get to play one, whether it’s a Custom Shop made-in-Australia model or a Korean-made GTR version. But for me the TX is really where it’s at. Imagine if an Ernie Ball Music Man Edward Van Halen model got it on with a Fender American Deluxe Telecaster but then spent a summer hanging around with a gang of Jazzmasters. Yes, before you even realise that it’s a multiscale guitar, the offset design tells you there’s something very different about this instrument, something that gives it great ergonomics even before you even take into account the fretting-hand-friendly multiscale design.

In its 7-string configuration, this guitar has a 27.8” scale length on the lowest string, shortening to a 25.5” scale on the highest. The 6-string has a 25.5”-27.5” scale. By this point I think most of us know about the benefits of a multiscale design, even if you haven’t tried one yet. For starters, the longer scale for the lower strings makes them tighter and snappier. For another, they just seem to intonate better. But most importantly for me, they naturally guide your hand into a very comfortable, tension-free playing position. After about five minutes of playing time, most players completely adjust to the different fret layout, and from then on it’s all smooth sailing.

The TX I reviewed was an Eaton Special model (owned by my brother Steve – hi Steve) with a 42mm-thick Alder body and a Flame Maple top. It has a bolt-on three-piece Maple neck and an Ebony fingerboard with Mother of Pearl inlays, and the beck of the neck is a Thin-U shape, like a D but with round shoulders. It’s not ultra-chunky but it’s not super-thin either. In fact it’s probably the perfect depth to be instantly accessible to as many players as possible, and it naturally guides your hand to a comfortable position for best orienting yourself to the multiscale fret layout. There are 29 Stainless Steel frets, with the last five being partial frets that follow the diagonal flow of the end of the neck.

Hardware includes Hipshot USA locking tuners and a custom Hipshot multiscale bridge, and the controls are volume and tone pots (with a push-pull switch on the tone for coil splitting), and a three-way pickup selector switch. The pickups are a PVH A5 humbucker and an Old School single coil, wound to Ormsby’s specs. Another nice touch: the curved control plate.

Unlike the super-popular Hype GTR model, which is a set-neck with a nice natural compression, the TX’s bolt-on neck gives it a snap and dimension that recalls the Telecasters that partly inspired it. It’s a very bold, in-your-face-sounding guitar with great note separation and a very tight attack. The pickups further enhance this natural quality with a very clear, focused vibe, and while they can handle some fatter tones with a bit of EQ work, they really excel at percussive chunk and screaming solos. Crucially, they’re not super hot in output, allowing for great clarity no matter how much gain you pile on, and also ensuring that when you split the humbucker into a single coil it sounds nice and twangy like a low-output single, not chewy and barks like a hotter one. The clean and semi-dirty tones are fantastic, especially in the middle selector position with the coil tap engaged, and are great for indie/alternative styles. The guitar itself doesn’t really look like something you’d see in that genre, but rules are made to be broken. It really sounds great for that stuff.

Although metal players seem to be the ones really embracing the multiscale, this isn’t just a metal guitar. Sonically it’s incredibly versatile, ergonomically it’s very player-friendly, and its design has enough of a classic vibe to appeal to forward-thinking traditionalists as well as modernists.