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The instrument’s single Volume and Tone pots sit on an oblong chrome plate. The knobs—which look like they came from an old guitar amplifier or radio—complement the overall design. The Tuneo- matic-style bridge and Wilkinson tuners are probably the only stock parts on this guitar.
Taking a Test Drive
I plugged the Harden into my trusty reissue Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb. The “C”-styled neck was easy to grip and invited me to dig into some riffs. With a clean amp setting, this guitar kicks up some grit and a dirty tone—think Danelectro, Airline, or National. It has a Link Wray bite that cuts through with clarity and character. The tone also reminded me of a smoking bluesman from Chicago’s south side—like Hubert Sumlin knocking out some killer riffs behind Howlin’ Wolf at a rough-and-tumble, ass-pocket whiskey, gun-toting establishment in the late ’50s.
When I cranked up the amp, the Switchblade got to the beef fairly fast, offering chunky power chords and single-note sustain. Adding a Boss BD-2 Blues Driver pedal to the mix, I was able to throw down fat pentatonic lead lines, as well as some buff, hard-rock riffage. I really had fun exploring the nastier side of overdrive with this guitar. With only one pickup, it does have a limited range, though. You can get a little more tonal variety by rolling back the tone knob some, but it gets a bit muddy before long. A neck pickup would make it possible to get that out-of-phase tone and add a thicker, Santana-type sound that would really make solos sing. My only other minor gripes are that the mustardy finish doesn’t have a lot of panache, and that, considering the guitar’s overall vibe, it seems to beg for a Bigsby tremolo.
The Final Mojo
A Harden may not be for everyone, but it has many of the capabilities of the classics. It looks amazing, and it offers a mean, cutting tone you just don’t find in many current guitars. Add a good amp and overdrive pedal, and you just might find that elusive tone you’ve been hunting for all these years.
you’re looking for a one-of-akind guitar that’s down ’n’ dirty.
you need a unique guitar that also has a lot of tonal flexibility.
Direct $1500 - Harden Engineering - hardenengineering.com