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As it turns out, the Hanson crew has been supplying pickups and manufacturing instruments for other brand names since the ’90s. That helps explain why the Chicagoan displayed none of the new-to-the-biz growing pains, such as funky frets or finish. So when PG presented me with a new Hanson model to review, I jumped at the opportunity to test it out. I put the Firenze T-90 through its paces, running it into Orange Tiny Terror and Egnater Rebel 30 heads, each in turn driving a custom 1x12 cab with an Eminence Texas Heat speaker.
As soon as I pulled the Firenze T-90 from its rectangular hardshell case (street $90), I understood the “T-90” part of its name. The bridge pickup, bridge, pickguard, and control assembly scream T-type guitar, while the “90” part is an obvious reference to the P-90-style neck pickup.
The “Firenze” part was not as quick to reveal its origin. I deduced that it’s Italian for the city of Florence, Italy, which is known as a place of great beauty. So that part of the name might symbolize the spectacular splendor of the figured maple top, glowing through the awesome orange finish that coats both it and the ash body. Still, the name could just as easily hint at funky Italian guitars—like Eko or Wandre—whose off-kilter styling is reflected in the truncated lower cutaway and the Teisco-inspired headstock. (Yes, I know Teisco is not an Italian make, but it is funky.) The truth of the matter proved closer to home and unrelated to guitar: Florence was a grandmother in the Hanson clan. Though the design might not appeal to all, the fiery figuring of the top and marvelous workmanship evidenced in the construction, finish, and frets is indisputably on par with the craftsmanship that gave us Florence’s Ponte Vecchio and Boboli Gardens. There is even a hint of flame in the maple neck. (A hint is plenty—you don’t want too much, as flame maple necks are notoriously unstable.) The finish on the back of the neck is highly glossed but smooth as silk, with none of the stickiness that sometimes rears its ugly head on heavily finished necks.
Lord of the Ring
Before plugging in the Firenze, I played it acoustically for a while. Strumming open chords produced a satisfying ring that I suspected would translate well electrically. In my hand, the neck vibrated like the “Magic Fingers” bed massager in cheap hotels. The body’s modest weight sat easily on my shoulder, and as a longtime Fender player, the 25 1/2" scale length was right in my comfort zone, too. The neck’s C-curve profile felt solid, and the high, narrow frets contributed to the instrument’s precise intonation, as did the six-saddle bridge. The frets were nicely rounded, which made it easy to slide into notes. The flattish neck radius and the height of the frets had me bending with the supple ease of a yoga instructor. The tuners moved smoothly and held their tuning well.