I had the pleasure of seeing Guthrie Govan play with Bryan Beller (Bass) and Marco Minnemann (Drums) ~ “The Aristocrats” ~ with Nick and our better halves, Yoga and Anna, at the Cluny in Newcastle in March this Year.
Nick had had his eye on one of the Guthrie Govan Signature guitars for a while and he was able to get up close to have a look at one / hear one in action at the hands of The Master himself. Click on the 2 photos below for my video footage from the gig (sorry about the slightly distorted sound on the loud bits).
If you ever get the chance to see this band you must do so. For some strange reason, musical virtuosity seemed to get a bad name and become a little unfashionable at the end of the end 1970’s as punk and 1980’s synth music began to take a hold – I still can’t figure that one out??? If you know me you will know that I’ve been stuck in a bit of a 70’s time warp ever since istening to bands / guitarists such as Allan Holdsworth, John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Todd Rungren’s Utopia, and of course Carlos Santana and Jimi Hendrix (if some of those are new to you click on the links and turn up the volume – you might be amazed!!).
So it was really refreshing to go to a gig where the whole thing was celebrating the wonders of what is possible when 3 world class musicians combine all of the past influences above with an electric guitar, electric bass and drum kit, not to mention the great little venue that is the Cluny and the informed and receptive audience there to witness the proceedings.
An absolutely fantastic gig – I have been to a few over the years but this ranks up there with the very best – I am certainly glad to have been there. As I said earlier, get to see them if you possibly can …now touring in the USA – full details here…..
Now what about this guitar?? – the Suhr Guthrie Govan Modern Antique.
Nick had been looking to extend his guitar collection for a while and had come across the Guthrie Govan Suhr. Seeing the Aristocrats recently combined with his 50 something birthday yesterday helped him to conclude the deal.
There is a pretty informative product description from the manufacturer which covers the specifications…… Building on the success of the Modern model and the two Guthrie Signature Models, the new Guthrie Govan Signature Antique Modern is based on the original bolt-on model featuring lightweight American Basswood, 1/4″ plain grain Maple top, and Roasted Maple neck and fingerboard. This wood combination has been a favorite of John Suhr for many years. John has even described it as the “Holy Grail” when it comes to wood combinations due to its very evenly balanced midrange, big and tight low-end, and sparkly yet sweet high-end. Guthrie is no stranger to the Basswood/Maple body and Maple neck combination as he owns two Suhr Standard models with this combination except that his guitars have Rosewood fingerboard. He has always liked this combination a lot and some of the most popular Guthrie YouTube videos feature a Standard with this wood combination.
Still, this new Antique Modern goes a few big steps further to differentiate itself from Guthrie’s previous Signature Model guitars and his other various Suhr instruments. This guitar’s body features the thin and aged nitro-cellulose lacquer finish that has been expertly applied and antiqued by J Black. There are endless debates on the Internet guitar forums about the merits of lacquer compared to modern finishing techniques utilizing polyester and urethane finishes but one thing is true: lacquer ages beautifully and imparts a certain cool vibe when getting the chips, dents and dings that all guitars eventually suffer on the road getting moved around and played in small clubs and concert venues around the world. Soncially, what matters is how thin the finish is so that the body can “breathe” and this lacquer finish is about as thin as it can be, so the body rings and sustains in a way that has to be heard and felt to be believed.
Moving on, the next big feature is the Roasted Maple neck and fingerboard. The Roasting feature is a process of baking the Maple in a high-tech oxygen-free oven at 250 degrees Farenheit and it removes moisture and all kinds of other “impurities” in the wood. This results in an exceptionally stable neck which becomes most useful when traveling all around the world and it provides a big, tight and punchy tone that mates beautifully with the Basswood/Maple body that contributes a balanced and warm midrange with sweet highs that just sing. On top of this, the Guthrie Govan Antique Modern also features the 510 2-post steel block bridge with the vintage-style bent saddles. Compared to the solid-steel saddles, these bent saddles provide a bigger and warmer tone, striking an ideal balance with the tightness and punch that comes from the Roasted Maple neck and Maple top on the body. This axe is all about balance!
Combine these new tonal features and the aged lacquer finish with the same modern playability and versatility of the two previous Guthrie Signature guitars and you have an instrument that is quite unlike any guitar you’ve ever played or heard before. What seem like conflicting features coalesce into a beautiful new whole with a chemistry and synergy that exceeds the sum of its various parts. Like the two Mahogany body and neck Signature Model guitars, the new Guthrie Govan Antique Modern features the exceptionally comfortable and fast-playing Modern GG Elliptical shape with .800-.850 thickness, 16″ flat fingerboard radius, Jumbo stainless steel frets, locking tuners, the versatile pickup combination of SSV in the neck, ML single-coil in the middle and SSH+ in the bridge, the innovative Blower circuitry, and the Tremol-No bridge-locking system.
So if you’ve ever wondered what it’d be like to combine the best of what “vintage” and “modern” have to offer in a single superbly hand-crafted instrument, there is no need to look any further than the Guthrie Govan Signature Antique Modern. You are also free to use this model as the basis to make tweaks and get a Custom Antique Modern built to your specs in the same way many players use the first two Guthrie Govan Signature Model guitars as a reference point to spec out and order their own Custom Modern instruments. Finish color options are limited to what we offer on the Antique Series guitars so please contact us for more details if you want to order a Custom Antique Modern. That being said, it will be hard to beat the latest Guthrie Govan Signature model that so well mirrors who Guthrie is as a player and artist: combine the best of the old and the new to forge a new sound and style.
And the man himself has a few things to say about it……click on the following link for Guthrie Govan’s review.
Well, I can’t really add a lot to the those views expressed above. However, the most striking things about this guitar relate to the feel of precision engineering when playing it and the great palette of tones available from the multiple pickup variations. These are the two things in my mind that distinguish top quality guitars from the wide range of guitars now available to suit all budgets. In terms of visual appearance, the distressed / antique finish is just that – it looks like Nick has just borrowed it from Guthrie after his gig at The Cluny. It will be interesting to see how the roasted maple neck / fretboard wears as it has a satin finish so no doubt will gradually become discloured where the main fretboard action takes place??…. we shall see. All in all a top quality guitar which will no doubt last a lifetime.
Well it’s been a long time ambition to hear one of my students sounding like a world class guitarists such as Guthrie Govan. I can’t wait to hear Nick in action on his new guitar at his lesson on Thursday – no pressure Nick!!!
Oh and…..Happy birthday mate!!!!