Vintage thinline sounds abound in an impressively relic’d and smooth-playing hollowbody.
First section is neck pickup, followed by both pickups, and finally bridge pickup.
Excellent pickups. Near-perfect fit, finish, and setup. Impressive relic’ing.
Very expensive for a China-built instrument.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of a session with a thinline electric, you’re missing a world of sounds and overtones that are hard to come by elsewhere. Whether it’s an old Vox, a Rickenbacker, Gretsch, or Gibson, thinlines sound and feel different. The larger physical dimensions lend the feel of an old-world instrument. And there’s a resonance that can veer from beautifully, tonefully flowering to teetering at the edge of feedback. But when it comes to thinlines that feel truly alive in hand, few can match the hollowbody Epiphone Casino, its cousin the Gibson ES-330, and, by extension, the very Casino/330-inspired Eastman T64/v reviewed here.
Like those famous hollowbodies, the Beijing-built Eastman T64/v is sparkling, exciting, mellow, smooth, jangly, or rowdy depending on your mood, musical mode, and the gear you put at the other end of your cable. It’s also an exceptional guitar that feels more expensive than it is—even though, by import standards, it’s not exactly inexpensive itself.
Original Beat Box
Though frequently mistaken by casual observers for the more famous Gibson ES-335, Epiphone Casinos might be the most commonly heard thinlines. They helped propel just about every Beatles record from Revolver onward. (Paul McCartney had one as far back as 1964.) And Keith Richards used a Casino for some of the Stones’ punkiest early tracks. The variety of tones these guitars contributed to records by these artists alone speaks volumes about the Casino’s versatility. And the same flexibility is easy to hear in the T64/v.
A big part of the T64/v’s tone signature is the true hollowbody design. Unlike a Gibson 335 or a Rickenbacker 330, the T64/v is built without a center block—a feature that typically adds sustain and contributes resistance to feedback. Hold a T64/v sideways up to the sun, peer through the f-hole, and you’ll see daylight shining through the opposite side. You’ll also notice an unusual amount of attention to fit and finish on the inside. Even in the hardest-to-see corners (and I checked with a flashlight), the laminate maple top and back were sanded smooth and kerfing was carefully bound to the body, with only a few, very small errant glue spots visible at the heel block.
The guitar’s exterior, meanwhile, verges on flawless. Frets are perfectly seated at the neck binding. The cutouts for the two Lollar Dog Ear P-90 pickups are cut to the closest possible tolerances. The setup and action are close to perfect. It’s hard to image a new guitar playing more smoothly out of the case.
Part of the T64/v’s visual allure is the relic’d amber antique varnish finish. And in all but a few places, the artificial patina holds up to close scrutiny. Placed alongside real 50-plus-years-old instruments, the color fade and finish wear look remarkably authentic. Even the yellowing of the binding is convincing. The only element that detracts from the otherwise careful aging effort is pearl inlay, which has a fresh-from-the-dentist whiteness that’s jarring against the ebony fretboard and compared to the aged tuning keys and binding. Even the black pickup covers have a cool, lived-in, lack of plasticky gloss—though I can’t help but think that aged chrome covers rather than black would have made the T64/v a perfect “10” from a visual standpoint.
A Playmate That Resonates
Any hollowbody worth its salt tends to sound and feel musical before you amplify it, and the T64/v is a delight to play unplugged. Thump the low E string and you can feel it in your ribs as it resonates. Center bocks may improve sustain in amplified situations, but it’s hard to imagine the superb resonance of the T64/v’s top and body failing to translate to extra sustain and overtone color when the guitar is amplified.
That said, the tone profile of the T64/v and the Lollar P-90s may surprise when you plug in. If the sonic point of reference you imagine for the T64/v is the trebly clank of Sgt. Pepper’s “Getting Better,” you could be astonished to hear that the Lollars, even in the bridge position, tend to be smokier and smoother than you might guess. But the beauty of this tone profile is the leeway it gives you to shape the tone in either direction on the EQ spectrum. If it’s Beatle-y treble you seek, you can add amp treble or a treble-boosted overdrive (I used a Jext Telez White Pedal, in the interest of Beatles authenticity) without losing an ounce of the pickup’s even-handed harmonic balance. The neck pickup may lack a PAF-and-center-block’s wooly ballast, but sounds arguably more complex in some tone-attenuated jazzy contexts.
The T64/v’s hollow body means there is a feedback penalty if you use the guitar with fuzz, overdrive, or even a big amp at high volume. At times, things can get hairy enough on the feedback front that you might find yourself wishing for a Les Paul—or at least a yard of beach towel to stuff in those f-holes. Mastering the Eastman’s feedback threshold, though, can yield a bounty of very manageable and expressive overtone and feedback possibilities—especially when you put the responsive and surprisingly tuning-stable Bigsby to work.
At nearly $1,700, the T64/v is unquestionably expensive for a pre-aged China-built instrument. Then again, the attention to detail and playability are, in many respects, perfect. And with the Lollar Dog Ear P-90s on board, the guitar is more than capable of rich vintage-correct tones to go with the impressively executed patina. And the end of the day, whether the T64/v is worth it to you is down to whether you bond with it as a guitar player and musician. I suspect many will be convinced by their playing experience to lay the cash down and walk away with a lifetime partner.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
Belltone P-90 Foil-Tron Pickup
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.