I plugged the Alumicaster into my 1965 Princeton Deluxe Reverb, which is, in my opinion, the Telecaster's soul mate. I was pleasantly surprised—it didn’t sound like a Tele, but it sounded beautiful. The Alumicaster is a really chimey, full-sounding instrument with huge sustain.
The humbucker in the bridge is twangy but not anemic. It has tons of bite backed by a hollow-body sound. The neck pickup on its own—a weak spot for many Teles—is a little muddy, but the two pickups combined are worth it. With both pickups engaged, the guitar can sound like a big jazz box. I couldn’t help but wonder how the guitar would’ve sounded with a Tele bridge pickup and humbucker in the neck. Luckily, Normandy offers a variety of pickup configurations for those looking for something different.
The controls are laid out like a traditional Tele: three-way switch, Tone, and Volume. The Tone and Volume pots are not an even sweep—both open really quickly. For the Tone knob, this means that pulling off Gatton-esque tone sweeps is a breeze. I dug it. For the Volume, getting beautiful even swells are not really possible. I was pleasantly surprised at the guitar’s performance at higher volumes. Despite the guitar’s great resonance, the clarity and definition aren’t lost when the amp is cranked. In fact, the tone became really punchy, like a Les Paul Junior.
Normandy made me a believer in aluminum—this is in a class of its own. The guitar is not a one trick pony. Because of the sustain, the Alumicaster makes a great lead guitar, but I think its biggest strength is as a rhythm guitar. The acoustic qualities, clarity when strumming, and punchiness when cranked make it perfect sitting in any mix. I could absolutely see this being anyone’s main axe. There are some issues I’d like to see addressed before spending a couple grand on one—string trees better positioned for bending, a more even volume pot, and better balance between the body and neck—but if you got the cash, they're a pretty damn unique voice to have in the toolbox. I can't wait to see how Jim Normandy’s guitars evolve over the next 10 years.
you're looking for something truly different with a huge tonal palette.
you're looking for a something affordable with a tradition Tele sound.