One of the nicest damn guitars I saw at NAMM last month was the prototype for Devin Townsend’s new Prestige Guitars ‘EMPATH’ signature acoustic. The neck and the body bevelling are ridiculously comfortable and the sound is gorgeous: clear, full and sweet. Prestige is now taking advance orders for this beauty, which is limited to 100 guitars worldwide.
The Empath Acoustic is a hand built Dreadnought cutaway guitar, featuring a Torrefied Adirondack Spruce Top, Indian Rosewood Back and Sides, and 3A Flame Maple Bevels on the Arm Rest, Back Rest and Cutaway. Following an all-organic build, each Empath guitar is built with a hand carved Mahogany Neck; Ebony Fingerboard, Ebony Bridge, Bone Nut and Saddle, and a natural Satin Finish. This combination results in a rich soulful sound, with crisp overtones and Loud sonic definition.
And how’s this for cool: each guitar will include a numbered, handwritten autographed letter from Devin, hidden inside the soundhole. Each letter is a fragment of a bigger story arc which is revealed when each letter is placed in numerical order. Empath owners are encouraged to register their guitar online to connect the story.
About 10 years ago Marshall released some adorable itty bitty baby 1-watt amps. They were cool and all, but it was the height of ‘lunchbox amps rule’ and I don’t think they ever really caught on. Part of the reason was probably that the power sections just weren’t the same as the amps they were based on, so they just didn’t feel quite right. Aah but now Marshall has taken that idea, blown it up, crammed appropriate power sections into ’em and created some truly desirable, useful and just plain frickin’ awesome amps in the form of the Studio Series. The line currently consists of three models: 20-watt variants of the Plexi (SV20), JCM800 (SC20) and Jubilee. Each is available in either head or combo form, are made in the UK and are packed with the tone of their big brothers. They each contain two EL34 power-amp valves and can be switched down from 20 to 5 watts. And another thing I really like about these amps is that the combo versions each have their own cabinet designs rather than just building the different designs into the same chassis.
I love the idea of these amps. I’d be so tempted to run two Plexis side by side to rattle some windows and piss off some neighbours. Or imagine having a Jubilee for crunchy rhythm tones and a JCM800 for leads. Oh the fun you could have!
So, my day job these days is Artist Relations and Social Media guy for the wonderful Ormsby Guitars, and I’ve just got back from NAMM where we had the huge honour of working with Rusty Cooley and Dino Cazares to unveil their new signature models.
Below is the press release I wrote to get the word out ahead of the show (and a whole bunch of pics by the wonderful Beto Branger), but now that I’ve had time to play Rusty’s guitar and get to know it, I thought I’d share my first-hand experience with this incredible instrument. So far this is Custom Shop guitar is the only instrument we’ve made for Rusty, but it’ll be available later this year from both the Custom Shop and the production GTR Series.
It was very important to Rusty that his guitar have unrestricted upper-fret access so not only does the RC-ONE have completely free access up to the 24th fret, but it goes three better: you can get your pinkie finger all the way up to the 27th fret with your thumb still parallel behind your fretting fingers. The neck joint is super-sculpted for easy access, and the upper frets are partially scalloped to give you extra grip on the high notes. And the neck is super thin. Like, ridiculously thin, but very stable.
This particular multiscale design uses the bridge as the neutral point of the fret fan, meaning you can use a Floyd Rose or any other standard tremolo or hardtail bridge while still getting the benefits of multiscale on the low strings. You can shred like crazy on the high strings while the low strings are tight and punchy. It’s really fun playing riffs on this thing.
A few people have asked about the pickup placement and whether the neck pickup really sounds like a neck pickup, being so far back from the traditional neck position. I can confirm that it does indeed sound ‘necky’ but the location gives it a little more definition and more harmonic overtones than a typical neck pickup. I really dig it.
I love the Ormsby guitars I’m currently playing but man, once these come out I’ve gotta get one. Those who are familiar with my playing know that I’m a big Floyd-Rose-and-seven-string guy, and this really is the ultimate guitar for players like me.
PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA (January 23, 2019) – Ormsby Guitars, a pioneer in multiscale electric guitars, welcomes guitar virtuoso Rusty Cooley to its family of artists.
Cooley is always pushing the boundaries of what the guitar can do, and he needs an instrument that can keep up with his creativity and technique. “A good friend of mine turned me on to Ormsby guitars and I was immediately intrigued,” Cooley says. “The guitar played great and had a very cutting-edge and innovative look. After speaking with Perry I knew this was the right move for me. Finally a guitar builder with the vision to go where no-one else has ever been, and the balls to do it!”
“Rusty and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to pushing the boundaries of guitar design,” luthier Perry Ormsby says. “When we began designing Rusty’s new guitar, we spent hours on Skype discussing everything from upper fret access to headstock shape to the perfect control location, to shared inspirations like Randy Rhoads. This is an instrument that really captures the excitement and passion of both playing and making guitars.”
“I’ve always likened my guitars to high-performance cars like a Lamborghini, but what we’re working with now is clearly alien technology,” Cooley says.
A Rusty Cooley signature model electric guitar is in the works which not only meets Rusty’s demand for the ultimate in upper fret access; it exceeds it by providing completely unrestricted access all the way up to the 27th fret. This 7-string instrument features 26.5” to 27.5” multiscale, Floyd Rose Pro 7 vibrato, partially-scalloped frets, glow-in-the-dark fretboard inlays and a unique Ormsby-designed, angled locking nut. You can play Rusty’s prototype at the Ormsby NAMM booth, #2841.