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Gigliotti Guitars GT Custom Review

The Gigliotti GT Custom is a show stealing Thinline-style metal-topped guitar with a range of available tones

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So, you’ve spent some time learning how to play guitar, maybe even made the investment and gone to Berklee College of Music or GTI. You’ve done the club thing. Maybe you’ve had a couple of opening slots for some big name bands, maybe even toured as a support act. But there’s something holding you back, and it isn’t your lack of skill or dedication. It’s your guitar. You love it, but it looks as if it’s been hauled behind a semi rig. Yes, there are plenty of high quality guitars out there, but you need something to set you apart. Perhaps the Gigliotti GT Custom can put you in the spotlight you deserve. One thing’s for sure, the Gigliotti GT Custom makes a bold visual impact.

The GT Custom sports a vibrant June bug green and gold, brass burst top with matching headstock, gold hardware and humbucker, and gold machine heads. Tops are also available in stainless steel or machined aluminum. And if that’s not enough, the rest of the body and neck are stained an amazing deep jade green. When you walk on stage, the GT Custom will steal the show. But all of this doesn’t mean anything if the Gigliotti GT Custom isn’t well made, or doesn’t sound good.

The guitar is powered by a Jason Lollar Imperial Humbucker in the neck and a Lollar Special Tele in the bridge. While the “fatback” neck does lean towards the He-man end of the spectrum, this chunky fifties Tele-style neck is surprisingly comfortable. Tacoma based builder Patrick Gigliotti claims that his guitars can remain in tune longer than conventional guitars; with a neck this substantial, it’s easy to see why. For those who may have different tastes in neck profiles, Gigliotti offers a wide range of neck designs upon request.

A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to run the metal-topped Zemaitis Tribal Tattoo through its paces with a Fender, so I was really excited to see what the GT Custom had to offer. I’ve also played a couple of other metal guitars in the past, but they’ve lacked a certain organic timbre to their sound. This time I wasn’t disappointed. Metal topped guitars have their own thing going, and while the GT Custom did exhibit a certain metallic “zing,” it was well-tempered by the chambered mahogany body.

Playing with just the bridge pickup, the brass top lends to an interesting effect, almost as if someone were tracing your playing with a resonator mixed deeply into the background. That’s not to say the GT Custom won’t twang. It’ll twang all right, but it can also easily produce Roy Buchanan “Nancy” and crunchy “Keef” Tele tones. The Jason Lollar Imperial Humbucker neck pickup was particularly lush and blended well with the bridge even in higher gain situations. By itself, the Imperial Humbucker is a beautiful pickup that has a very even tonal response with less pick tones than your garden variety PAF clone. It was also nice to see that someone spent the time to radius the pole pieces to match the neck radius too.

Next, I ran the GT Custom through a Fuchs Blackjack 21 in full crunch mode. Wow! And I mean, wow! The GT Custom was fat and punchy, with each pickup retaining its own distinctive character. As with the Zemaitis Tribal Tattoo, the Gigliotti GT Custom was remarkably resistant to feedback, even when I kicked on an Xotic AC Booster for some added smack down. It was also nice to know that when the neck pickup began to sound just a tad woolly, I could kick in the bridge pickup for just a little more cutting tone—a real plus for live situations.

The Final Mojo
The Gigliotti GT Custom is a pro-level guitar with a unique look and tremendous build quality, even if you don’t dig on the Dale Chihuly-like finishes. Historically, Kluson tuners haven’t been exactly celebrated for their tuning reliability, and given Patrick Gigliotti’s claim of increased tuning stability some were suspicious. I yanked on the strings, bent them without mercy, and mangled them in all directions for nearly two weeks, and I only needed to tune the guitar three times: the first was when I received it from shipping; the second was when tuning the low E string to D, and the third was retuning the G string one time. Mission accomplished Patrick; well done.

Overall, the GT Custom isn’t my personal favorite. The finish is a little showy and the neck makes the neck on my 1957 Gibson ES-125T feel like a toy. But, if you want a great sounding, well made, Thinline-style guitar that will give you plenty of stage presence, and will adapt well to both the studio and live situations, you should seriously consider the GT Custom as your next Thinline option. My only concern is the guitar’s painted brass top, but with a guitar this nice you can’t help but want to take good care of it.

Buy if...
you want a great new take on the classic Thinline design.
Skip if...
you have a wad of Scotch Tape holding together your horn-rimmed glasses.

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