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Johan Gustavsson Bluesmaster Custom 59
By Ulf Edelönn.
As most of you have understod by now it's amps and pedals that have been the centre of UGG's attention. Although it's the guitar that is the source of the sound, we have always found the next two steps in the signal chain the most interesting. We have all of course our favourite guitars, but have chosen not to talk so much about them. Once in a while though, you come across guitars that are special. The Gustavsson guitar we played falls into this category.
Johan Gustavsson has been building and repairing guitars for twenty years. He has gathered a lot of knowledge of how vintage guitars are made.
This is very evident in the way he selects wood and how he finish the guitars.
The Bluesmaster Custom 59 is a great exemple of how to combine new ideas with traditional esthetics.
It's also the looks that first catches your eyes when opening the case.
The Bluesmaster (BM) is finished in a beautiful faded cherry sunburst. The carved rock maple top has enough movment and flames to be interesting without the one dimensional "striping" of some recent Gibsons.
The top has a very "alive" feeling and looks different depending of the amount of light and which angle you hold it in.
The body shape looks like a cross between a Tele and a Les Paul, and is clean and attractive. Both body and neck are made of old growth Honduras Mahogony.
The fingerboard is a slab of real Brazilan rosewood which has a beautiful dark brown color with some redish streaks in it. Pickups are custom made Seymour Duncan Antiquitys which have coil taps. Another interesting part is the bridge.
It is a custom designed wraparound bridge made by Johan himself.
Unplugged the BM has a vibrant and complex sound. No matter where you play on the fretboard the notes are alive and singing. The neck is comfortable. Not as thick as on some Gibson Historics, but more "realistic".
Plugged in we tested the BM through a Germino Lead 55 and an old Marshall JTM 50. Both heads were connected to a vintage Marshall cab with G12H 30 watters. Amplified the BM sounds equally as good as unplugged.
The bass is clear and snappy. The highs on the upper frets are sweet and clear. Cranking the amps the BM held together nicely. Due to its construction The BM has a bark and attack that is much related to the Les Paul but still has an identity of its own: a bit clearer and not as mid heavy as som LP's we've tried.
The volume and tone pots works great. We tried to lower the tone on the bridge pickup and got an excellent Eric Clapton "woman" tone.
The coiltap option on the Antiquitys makes the BM even more versitile and you can get a number of different sounds.
The combination of bridge and neck perhaps the most interesting in this mode.
One thing that struck us with the tone of this guitar is that it's sounds like it looks, basically a Les Paul with some elements of Telecaster thrown in.
It sounded great for Stonsy rhythm work, a bit more defined then a Les Paul but with more mid bark than a Tele.
If theres anything less positive to say, it's probably about the pickups. They sometimes sounded a bit thin and pale, although okey sounding most of the time. We would like to see a good PAF clone like Rolphs or Voodos in the BM, which we feel would make the guitar greater justice.
The Gustavsson Bluesmaster Custom 59 is , as you probably have gathered by now, a guitar that impressed us a lot. Even if it's a new guitar, it feels and looks like an old guitar. The overall feel and quality of this instrument is if highest class, it's clear that Johan Gustafsson makes guitars of outstanding quality with great attention to details without loosing that vintage feel.To us the BM should be considered in the same company as the top of the line custom shop Gibsons and boutique builders like Baker or Mc Inturff. It's great that we here in remote and cold Sweden have such a gifted guitar builder. Way to go Johan!!!
Here's also a short video clip of me playing the BM. The amp is The Germino into the Marshall cab. Effects used is the Sun Face into a Boss DD-2.
Quality is not the best, but you get the idea. Click here to download the clip.
Best / Ulf
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