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.
Street $599 - Hanson Guitars - hansonguitars.com