For an unknown builder to name a guitar “Identity” is a bold move. If the guitar is too generic, they risk the name becoming an ironic punch line; if the guitar is too outrageous, it will be quickly passed over by serious players. Carlino Guitars, a Massachusetts builder, is walking this line with their new model, the Carlino Identity.
The Carlino Identity certainly won’t fall under the category of being too generic. Its daring, asymmetrical body is built with soft curves, sharp cutaways and a lower bout reminiscent of a Gibson Explorer. The headstock features a dramatic swoop that ends in a sharp point. Despite the wild lines, the guitar reels itself in before venturing into the realm of the over-the-top with a more reserved finish, eschewing a wildly flamed look for a sleek, glossy black lacquer with thick cream binding.
The body is mahogany with a maple top and has a relief cut out of the back for comfortable playing. The mahogany neck finds a happy medium between a C shape and a V shape and sits at a perfect two o’clock position. The fingerboard is ebony with pearl block inlays and features 22 polished nickel medium jumbo frets. For hardware, the Identity comes with a Seymour Duncan SH-1 in the neck and an SH-6 in the bridge, chrome Wilkinson tuners, an original Floyd Rose tremolo bridge, and Schaller Straploks.
The Identity is built for rockin’, and will deliver a thick and heavy tone with loads of chunk when the distortion kicks in. Still, because of the mahogany and maple combination, the clean sound features sparkling note definition. Each guitar is built by hand in the United States with CAD technology to ensure consistency in quality and design.
As we’ve almost come to expect from small builders, Carlino Guitars is ready to customize the Identity to match your own identity. Flamed maple, quilted maple, spalted maple or flamed redwood are all interchangeable for the top, with a variety of solid, metallic and translucent finish options, so if over-the-top is your thing, it can be done.
For hardware customization, fans of active pickups can switch out the stock SDs for EMGs. In addition, Carlino Guitars offers an option exclusive to their guitars – the Eck lo-fi booster. The optional booster boosts the low end with a feedback-free, pushpush circuit that gives a unique growl that you can’t find anywhere else.
Eddie Carlino, the designer and builder behind Carlino Guitars, started building guitars while still in high school in 1981. Inspired by the great rock guitars of the time, Eddie sought to break out of the shapes that kept popping up in the guitar industry. His previous guitar, the Pantera L, started this journey. The next step in the process, the Identity, goes a long way to make heads turn.