If you’re looking for a masterfully built T-style with some unique quirks, the H.S. Andersen Mad Cat is a straight-up killer guitar.
In addition to his sheer musical genius, Prince has always had an eye for style. And as any experienced axe-spotter knows, it didn’t stop with the Purple Dandy’s amazing suits. His Dave Husain-built cloud guitar and Jerry Auerswald-built symbol guitars became some of Prince’s most identifiable style trademarks. But though those larger-than-life guitars were among the flashiest of his accoutrements, Prince will probably always be most associated with his comparatively pedestrian H.S. Anderson-designed Hohner T-style that he used on albums like Purple Rain, 1999, and Musicology.
The Hohner’s subdued style had a way of enhancing the mystery around it. It wasn’t a vintage Fender, and yet one of the most inventive and ripping guitarists of the day was doing major damage with the thing—there had to be more going on than meets the eye. Indeed, Prince’s Hohner was more than just another cheap Fender knock-off. In fact, Prince’s Hohner is a Japanese version of the H.S. Anderson Mad Cat, which was released in 1973 by the Morris company. The über-rare originals (there were only a little more than 500 produced) fetch top dollar whenever they pop up, but there have been quasi copycats under various brands over the years, too.
Over the years, Hohner released several versions of the guitar—Prince’s Japanese version and a Korean incarnation made by Cort. In 2009, Morris got back into the action and released a limited run of the Mad Cat to commemorate the company’s 45th anniversary. But more recently, European distributor Amptec persuaded Moridaira to release the H.S. Anderson Vintage Reissue Mad Cat. The reissue is handmade in small batches of about seven instruments a month in Japan at the original factory.
When I first opened the case, I was knocked out by the instrument’s upscale looks. The decorative pearloid H.S. Anderson logo, walnut center strip, ash wings, highly-figured maple top and bottom, and top and back binding, and super-shiny polyurethane lacquer finish, all exude a luxurious image that is nicely offset by a leopard-print pickguard very similar to the original (H.A. Anderson says the material’s supplier is no longer around and that the new version warps less). The pickguard gives the Mad Cat a sexy, classy-meets-trashy vibe that playfully offsets the otherwise upscale character. The headstock shape has been changed a touch, but in general, the Mad Cat reissue is a faithful rendition of the classic with a more up-market glow.
The Japanese-built Mad Cat is more-or-less impeccably crafted throughout. On my test model, there were no finish flaws, misaligned binding, or wood blemishes. One minor issue that I noticed though is that the guitar had a few sharp, protruding fret edges, which could be chalked up to a the transatlantic shipment, but nothing so serious that a competent luthier couldn’t easily fix.
The all-maple neck with 21 vintage medium frets, 9.4" radius, bone nut, Gotoh SG360 tuners, and medium C profile has a familiar vintage feel that’s very comfortable. Upper-register bends never fretted out and my hands never tired even after long periods of holding full 5–and–6 string chords. This guitar is a player.
Mad Cat Meow
Acoustically, the Mad Cat is a vibrant and resonant guitar, and there are no harmonically dead spots anywhere along the length of the fretboard. Of course, it’s meant to be plugged in, and I tested the Mad Cat through several rigs including a blackface Fender Deluxe Reverb with a Fulltone GT-500 for dirt. Even though it’s a T-style guitar, the Mad Cat is outfitted with S1 and S3 model Bill Lawrence USA Strat pickups. Lawrence designed these for Stevie Ray Vaughan, and they replace the original’s Keiyo pickups. The Lawrence pickups are a nice choice that sound very warm, if not especially loud.
I began my tests with some funky rhythm guitar à la “Kiss,” and the Mad Cat delivered those shimmery tones in spades, particularly in the middle position. All of the pickup positions sounded great—harmonically rich chords sustained nicely and single-note melodies rang bold and clear in all three positions. Output is also remarkably consistent, and even with the bridge pickup engaged and the tone control wide open, the sound was civilized and never too shrill. I never had the itch to roll down the tone knob, as I usually do with this type of pickup through a Deluxe.
With the overdrive engaged, the Mad Cat really shines. It has an authoritative and brash-but-refined smoothness reminiscent of the tones Prince used in “Little Red Corvette” or the fierce intro to “When Doves Cry.” Even when you really pile on the gain, the Mad Cat doesn’t have the ragged edge you hear from lesser single-coil guitars, which you might chalk up to the ash-and-walnut body composition, as well. Note-to-note definition was excellent when I played double-stops or chords, and this articulation prompted me to play in a more harmonically oriented and less linear style than I usually do with that much gain—a sure sign of a balanced and truly performance-oriented instrument.
At $3,100, the Mad Cat is definitely boutique priced—which is to say, steep. It’s in the same price class as instruments like Fender’s Custom Shop Teles or Suhr Classic Ts. The Mad Cat can certainly hold its own against those axes, though. And if you can get around the fact that this very expensive guitar is based on what was once an affordable Hohner, the price isn’t all that out of line. To be fair, the Mad Cat is much less ostentatious than many other artist-inspired axes, and stylistically speaking, a very cool twist on a classic template. So even if you’re not a big Prince obsessive but you’re looking for a masterfully built T-style with some unique quirks, the Mad Cat is a straight-up killer guitar.
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Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.
Billy Corgan was looking for something for heavier Smashing Pumpkins songs, so Joe Naylor designed the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One pickup. Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters have a fat midrange and a smooth top end. This pickup combines the drive and sustain of a humbucker with the percussive attack and string clarity of a P90. Get beefy P90 tone plus amp-pummeling output with the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One.
Patented Railhammer Pickups take passive guitar pickups to a new level with rails under the wound strings lead to tighter lows, and poles under the plain strings offer fatter heights. With increased clarity, the passive pickup’s tone is never sterile.
Railhammer Billy Corgan Signature Z-One Pickup Demo
For more information, please visit railhammer.com.
Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.
The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:
- Patent-pending FREERIDE Wheel System that allows for wheels to be attached on the case in no time, giving you the option to travel with it seamlessly
- Upgraded materials, including a water-resistant 1680D Ballistic Nylon outer shell, plush inner lining and new reflective trim for maximum backstage and night visibility
- Enhanced protection with a shockproof shell structure and heavy-duty water-resistant YKK zippers for protection from the elements
- Improved ergonomics and functionality including added back support and load-lifting detachable shoulder straps with side release buckles
- Flexible storage options with added space for touring essentials
The Generation Collection of acoustic guitars features the exclusive Gibson Player Port designed to offer a unique and immersive sonic experience.
The G-Bird, the newest addition to the Generation Collection--represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird colliding with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port to add a new dimension to the G-Bird sound. The Gibson Player Port allows players to hear more of themselves as the audience hears it. With a tone that is crisp and resonant, all of the Gibson Generation Collection acoustics are designed to be comfortable to hold and play for long periods of time. All Generation Collection guitars feature the Gibson Player Port, slim, lightweight bodies, a flatter fingerboard radius, Walnut back and sides, Sitka spruce tops, and a stunning Natural finish. Additionally, the new G-Bird, and the G-200 and G-Writer are equipped with LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup systems which amplify deep bass and crystal-clear highs.
The G-Bird represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port adding a new dimension to the G-Bird’s sound. The G-Bird features a stunning solid Sitka spruce top and solid walnut back and sides for the ultimate in crisp, resonant tone. This square-shoulder dreadnought delivers all the rich low end and well-balanced mids and highs the original Hummingbird is famous for. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with chrome Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning. The utile neck, with its easy-playing Advanced Response neck profile, is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Modeled after Gibson’s pioneering small-body parlor acoustic guitars from the 1930’s, the G-00 is a top choice for blues and fingerstyle guitar performances. Despite its more compact size, the G-00 achieves a full, balanced sound. The G-00 fills any room with rich tones-which players can hear like never before, with the exclusive Gibson Player Port. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-00 is handcrafted in Bozeman, Montana, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustic guitars. The G-00 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-00 parlor-sized body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-00 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
The G-45, a round-shouldered jumbo, adds the Gibson Player Port to its famous “Workhorse” J-45 style body, which is Gibson’s best-selling acoustic guitar of all time. On the G-45, players can now hear more clearly than ever how this beloved guitar responds to every style and technique of playing. Powerful one moment and soft the next, the G-45 delivers all sounds with incredible dynamic range in an elegant, medium body size. The G-45 is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-45 features a slightly thinner round shoulder body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-45 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Gibson’s impressive range of square-shouldered guitars have become an expressive standard for rock, pop, folk, and country artists. The G-Writer is known for its wide range of sounds, from gutsy and loud, to soft and sweet; they are superb for all styles and shine, whether strumming chords or fingering intricate solos. The G-Writer comes ready for the stage or studio with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system and the ear-opening Gibson Player Port. The G-Writer is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-Writer features a slightly thinner cutaway body, is more comfortable to play and provides effortless access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Writer is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
Gibson built its first “Super Jumbo” SJ-200 as a custom order for country and western singer and film star Ray Whitley, who desired a big, loud, and deep flat-top over which to croon. The SJ-200 quickly became a staple of cowboy singers and horseback troubadours, and then country music, 60’s folk stars, and onto every acoustic guitar genre that has followed. Ray would be proud to hear the booming sound from the Gibson Player Port on the new G-200, which comes ready for the stage or studio with a LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-200 is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. The G-200 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-200 cutaway jumbo body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and provides excellent access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-200 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
G-Bird | Generation Collection
For more information, please visit gibson.com.