22 Sep

Soloway Gosling Guitar – Review

Yes, it is true. I have a guitar problem. I can’t seem to get enough of them and all the new and exciting builders that are coming out of the woodwork these days aren’t helping matters any. I recently purchased one of Jim Soloway’s, of Soloway Guitars, irresistible masterpieces. A gorgeous Gosling model donning a beautiful flamed redwood trans-burst top with Soloway-logo-inspired “f-hole”… once I saw it (and played it) I couldn’t get my wallet out fast enough.

From what I’ve gathered, Jim’s been at this for about 8 or 9 years now and he’s developed quite a fine product in the process. Fusing the design aesthetic of the Stratocaster with his own unique lower bout shape, Jim has produced a truly stunning new take on the classic Strat shape that most new builders rarely achieve. His first model, the Swan, is a semi-hollow body construction and is made from choice tonewoods (alder or ash usually) with all sorts of different top options available (maple, koa, redwood, and others). What is unique about the Swan is its 27″ scale length. Though its scale might suggest it is a baritone, these guitars are strung and tuned like normal guitars. Jim claims the intonation of a 27″ scale length guitar is far more accurate and the lows are much tighter and more piano like.

The Gosling, on the other hand, is one of Jim’s newest models and the first to offer the standard 25.5″ scale length. The first thing I noticed when playing the Gosling I purchased, apart from the flawless fit and finish, was how great the neck feels. Jim calls this neck profile the “.915 Stubby”. It starts at .915 at the first fret with a soft V shape and merges to 1.0 at the octave with a full C shape. Made of maple and topped with a Madagascar rosewood fingerboard fretted with stainless steel frets, bends and vibrato on this neck are effortless and super smooth… in part due to the extra fat profile giving your hand more leverage, and in part due to the ultra slinkiness of the stainless steel frets. Soloway necks are finished with a “thin skin” nitrocellulose satin finish, while the bodies are finished in what Jim describes as “the thinnest possible” coating of polyurethane. All Soloway necks are fitted with beautifully made bone nuts and gorgeous, hand-crafted truss rod covers with inlaid logo (mine is made from sycamore.)

Another thing you immediately notice is how light these guitars are. My Gosling weighs in at a feather-light 6.7 lbs! All of the guitars I demo’ed that day felt just as light. Jim is adamant about building light weight instruments after years of torturing his own lower back gigging heavy guitars. And despite the low weight, the timbre and sustain of these guitars is off the chart! Not even my heavy Les Pauls can keep up.

Jim uses great hardware on his guitars. My Gosling is fitted with a Hipshot fixed bridge with Strat-style bridge saddles, some cool modern metal knobs with rubber gaskets fitted on them for easy gripping and some awesome open-back (yes, open-back!) locking Hipshot tuners. The guitar feels solid and stays in tune beautifully.

Plugged into my favorite Kingsley ToneBaron boutique amp rig, the Gosling just blew me away. It is by far the clearest, most articulate guitar in my collection. While I was easily able to get all the basic rock, shred, jazz and blues tones from it I can definitely see this guitar becoming my main go-to instrument for fusion stuff. This particular build sports a DiMarzio 36th Anniversary PAF humbucker in the bridge position and a custom wound DiMarzio Firebird mini-humbucker in the neck (that was actually made for Jim by Larry DiMarzio himself). The electronics are wired with a 3-way selector switch, master volume and a push-pull tone pot that (when up) puts the pickups in series mode and (when down) puts them in the standard parallel mode. Pulling the push-pull knob up and engaging the series mode fattens up the tone so much that the bridge pickup practically sounds like a neck pickup. Couple this with the tone knob itself and different volume knob settings and a stunning plethora of sounds are available at your finger tips. With the Kingsley cranked under full distortion and the neck position in parallel mode with the volume rolled most of the way down, it was very easy to get a bright, Strat-like chime. There’s almost nothing this guitar can’t do!

So…fit and finish perfect, great sound, plays like buttah and looks stunning. I think I’ve found a keeper! If you are curious about Soloway guitars, go to the website and check out the gallery. If you’re serious, you can contact Jim for a “test drive”. I warn you, though– if you try one you’ll almost certainly be buying, so be prepared to spend your money before you try. 🙂

This post originally appeared on Ryan’s Guitars blog. It is re-posted here with full permission of the original author.

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