Attack of the Dark Twang
It was finally time to plug in, and the “T” in
the T-90 moniker led me to start out by testing
the guitar’s twang factor through the Egnater’s
clean channel. The Firenze is equipped with
Hanson’s Broadcaster-inspired bridge pickup,
meaning it sounds darker and beefier than the
ice-pick cut of a standard Telecaster bridge
pickup. In part, this is to better match the
midrange punch of the neck-position Hanson
P-90. Hanson’s version of that early Fender
bridge pickup delivers the iconic sound you’d
expect—plenty of meat, but with the twang
fully present. I often find that when I go for
chicken pickin’ sounds on a Tele, I have to
roll back the tone pot to keep from taking
people’s heads off in the front rows. But with
this pickup I could leave the tone control
wide open, because the Firenze gave me
plenty of cut without drawing blood.
Still in the clean channel, I checked out the
neck P-90 and found it to be so hot and bass
laden that it was hard to get a totally clean
sound out of the normally pristine Egnater.
Lowering the bass side of the pickup helped
quite a bit, but if you want to get any bite
out of this baby through a clean amp, you will
have to crank the treble and roll off most of
the bass. On the plus side, I didn’t have to
roll down the tone control to get a warm, jazz
timbre from this pickup. Combined with the bridge pickup, the neck P-90 chimed like the
bells in the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Shifting Into Overdrive
Through the Egnater’s overdrive channel or
the Orange with its gain up, the T-90 offered
up another set of cool sounds. The P-90
provided some different blues tones—not
SRV-ish Strat sounds or searing PAF tones,
but more like the funkier tones of a National
or Kay driving a Supro amp to the brink of
destruction. I grew to love this sound, finding
it perfect for slide. With a little more
gain, the P-90’s sustain went on forever in a
Big Muff sort of way.
Both pickups together yielded a 335-type
tone, with the bridge pickup adding definition
to the P-90’s girth. This sound was ideal for
B.B. King blues or Larry Carlton-esque fusion.
By itself, the bridge pickup proved powerful
enough to drive both the Egnater lead
channel and the Tiny Terror like a humbucker,
yet it offered enough bite for easy pinched
harmonics. For extra sustain, I kicked in a
Fuchs Plush Pure Gain pedal and served up
some major Zeppelin raunch.
Rolling back the tone knob introduced a
throaty “woman tone” roar in all positions,
but turning down the volume knob diminished
the highs way more than I would have
liked—especially in an instrument this bassy
to begin with.
The Final Mojo
The Firenze sounds as unique as it looks.
The pickups unite with the maple cap to
create a dark tone with a very quick attack.
The guitar blends the outline of a funky
pawnshop prize with the figured top and
finish work of an instrument costing well
over twice as much. Hanson has leapt into a
crowded market and rapidly made its mark.
If you’re looking to make yours, this might
be the guitar to help you do it.
you want a distinctive, quality-built
instrument at a killer price.
you want your guitar to look and sound
like what the other kids play.