Source: Guitar Buyer Magazine
Date: 10 June 2002
Reviewer: Pete Crisp
Incorporating space-age looks and advanced design techniques, Gus offers us a futuristic vision of our beloved six string. Pete Crisp succumbs to a bit of G-force.
For those of us who were but a twinkle in our parentsí eyes when electric guitars burst forth, itís hard to imagine the effect they had on the fresh-faced teenagers of the early 1950s. Radical design was as much a part of rock Ďní rollís attraction as the music itself, providing guitarists with the perfect visual outrage to accompany their new sonic assault. Those new and exciting guitars gave rise to the wealth of instruments that hang on todayís music shop walls, most of which still clearly pay homage to their revolutionary forebears. While thatís certainly no bad thing there are, fortunately, a small band of dedicated craftsmen who still rise to the challenge of innovation. Simon Farmer, the brains behind Gus, holds a fine example of an uncompromising attitude to guitar design. Based right here in the UK his crusade is driven by a desire to be different, yet not at the expense of quality or tone. Quite a quest, thenÖ
Body & Neck
Although principally a custom-built guitar (the Gus team are eager to encourage input from potential customers), the basic construction of the G1 is standard. Three pieces of characteristically bright and light cedar layered with a carbon-fibre jacket make up the neck-thru-body design. Itís this combination of materials, Simon says, that contributes so much to the lively Gus tone. Framing the smooth lines of the body is the Gus trademark chromed aluminium tube, harking back to the prototype guitars that were purely a metal framework without any body wood at all. This is attached to the main bulk with three tags on the rear, adding extra strength and providing the anchor points for the Schaller straplock buttons.
The output jack is sited on the rear of the body which helps to keep it tidily out of harmís way. This position works quite well in reducing the inevitable snagging of leads but it can be a little awkward plugging in when youíre wearing the guitar.
Accessing all of the C-profile neck is easy with the smooth transition to the body keeping even the highest of the 22 jumbo frets within grasp. These are set into a fingerboard of cocobolo, a type of rosewood that feels flat and fast with its 12-inch radius, separated by the large fret markers that also reveal themselves along the top edge of the neck. Adding to the space-age look the slim headstock extends smoothly from the 42mm nut and is finished in the same pearl blue as the body and neck. Donít forget though that colour choice is another of the many custom-order options at Gus.
Hardware & parts
With the exception of the tuners, all the hardware is made by Gus. The care and attention paid in this department is obvious, offering up, dare we say it, an almost German precision engineering feel.
Anodised master volume and tone controls are joined by a six-way rotary pot for pickup selection, giving the customary five options (bridge, bridge and middle, middle, middle and neck, neck) plus the useful bridge and neck combination that offers a well-defined Tele-style tone. If youíre used to a standard selector you may find this departure from the norm a little clumsy at first. Gus will fit a blade type if you prefer, but we feel the versatility afforded by the extra position outweighs that approach.
One of the most noticeable aspects of the G1 is the Gus vibrato system which, unlike pivot-types, is mounted on roller bearings around a central shaft. The unit feels extremely solid, returning the thru-body strings back to pitch perfectly. The stability is maintained with three internal springs and at the headstock a set of Sperzel locking tuners keep a grip on things. On more recent guitars these have now been replaced with Gotoh 510s.
In fact, there have been a few updates to the Gus range, displaying the companyís continuing desire to evolve and improve its guitars. This includes not only baritone and seven-string versions, but also the soon-to-be-seen piezo and MIDI models: all very interesting stuff.
With an unplugged sound revealing all the intricate tonal nuances of the G1ís faultless construction, you immediately know this guitar possesses far more than just extraordinary looks. The three single coils ultimately lean the Gus towards the ícaster community with the six positions offering a broad range of sounds that will fit right into any number of musical styles. The pickups are fairly high output, bringing the best of the bodyís superb resonance to life. The thing sustains for what seems like an age, rolling out long, sweet single notes and giving arpeggios a ringing lilt. From bridge to neck, clarity and definition remain exceptional, offering well-trodden tones a fresh lease of life. The extra position in particular stands out with a rich, crisp edge.
For all its futuristic looks the Gus feels comfortably at home playing creamy vintage blues solos; with the neck position selected, think Blackmore here, and funky 70s tunes that benefit from the G1ís well-honed sound. With the selector wound back, the brightness of the bridge pickup is ideal for overdriven powerchords and raucous lead breaks that bring to mind the aggressive Gary Moore Strat era. Seeking out the calmer side of the Gus is easy, there are some lovely jazzy tones to play with, which give strummed chords a marvellous chiming quality, and for country pickers the presence of the taut sonics work perfectly. All up itís exceptionally clear and well defined, possessing all the clout and body youíd expect from more, well, body!
Anything that inspires you to pick up a guitar and play deserves hearty applause. And by the attention bestowed upon the Gus by many first-time viewers, it seems well on its way to a standing ovation. Admittedly, not everyoneís going to be bowled over by the extravagant styling, but if image counts and you can run to the expense of a custom-made guitar, the G1 seems a worthy port of call. More than that though, this is a guitar of the highest calibre thatís both incredibly fulfilling to play and that sounds superb. Itís great to see that some manufacturers are still willing to take a chance and buck the trend of familiarity, especially when they hail from our very own shores. If you want to breathe a little individuality into your playing, seek out a Gus.
GB Rating: 9 out of 10
- Unique look
- Superb quality build
- Pro sounds
- Some may want to change the pickup selector
Extrovert entertainers bored with the norm.
Copyright Guitar Buyer Magazine ©2002. Used by kind permission of Guitar Buyer Magazine.