Nik Huber proves he can do stripped-down rock as well as he can do ultra-high-end
Pop quiz: Germany’s Nik Huber is ________.
A. A luthier known among boutique guitar enthusiasts for his opulent tops and lavish appointments and inlay work
B. A heckuva guitar player and a heckuva nice guy
C. A luthier who builds no-nonsense guitars for serious players
D. All of the above
The answer, of course, is D (I didn’t say it was a trick pop quiz). The fact that Huber is a player probably has a lot to do with the fact that all the guitars he and his team make are serious business, whether they’re lavish instruments or not. That’s not to say that those who don’t play guitar can’t make a great guitar—there’s plenty of evidence to shoot down that claim—but simply that Huber and his crew must know firsthand that if the guitar doesn’t deliver the good stuff during a performance, it’s bound to end up neglected no matter how good it looks. And that’s likely the reason why so many Huber fans have welcomed without hesitation his more recent venture into models that embody a no-frills, minimalist aesthetic. Even though he’s turned some of his attention (but not all of it) away from those gorgeous tops and toward more bare-bones rockers— like his classic take on the Junior and Special or his Huberian twist on the Tele with the Twangmeister—they know Nik Huber guitars will still manifest the same uncommon quality that came with the Dolphin and Orca guitars. Now make way for the Krautster.
Ich Bin Krautster
It’s simplest to say that Huber’s intention to disguise the Krautster as a purely plain and practical guitar hasn’t entirely succeeded, because despite the humble, stripped-down look the guitar portrays to an audience, it still betrays enough conspicuous craftsmanship to treat the eyes, hands and ears of the player who straps it on. The overall look is an understated cool, with its worn, satin-black finish and tastefully cut three-ply pickguard. The single Custom Humbucker, made by Häussel, is housed in an aged nickel cover to match the look of the aged Nik Huber aluminum stoptail bridge. The only other feature on the face of the guitar is the single black bell Volume knob. The Krautster is not exactly “adorned” the way some of Huber’s guitars are. Look a little closer, though, and thoughtful details appear. The cream binding matches the cream pickup mounting ring and the expertly cut bone nut, the dot inlays are abalone, and the fretwork appears to be perfect.
Each piece of wood that makes up the guitar is beautiful. The Indian rosewood fretboard is richly hued and the mahogany body slab has a subtle figuring that’s brought out by the open-pore finish. The curly maple neck is simply stunning—like nothing we’ve seen—and is oh-so comfortable despite its thickness (.88" at the first fret and .96" at the 12th) because of its smooth satin finish and low shoulders, almost like the softest V you can imagine. Because of Nik Huber’s sculpted heel joint—an understated but elegant design in itself—access to the upper frets is much easier than I anticipated in a body style of this type.
How Do you Say “Gadzooks!” auf Deutsch?
When the Krautster arrived at our doorstep, the cold of winter was still upon us, so we let it acclimate before opening the shipping container. It was a difficult wait. When it came out of the case, the Krautster was expertly set up and still in tune, so we decided to skip ahead of the ordinary review preliminaries and plug it straight into an Orange Tiny Terror combo. Dialing the Gain down and diming the Volume with the Tone at around noon, the Krautster delivered a great kerrang! with its first big, open chord. The single humbucker is pretty hot, and the first tone it produced with the Volume rolled all the way was too bright. After lowering the pickup by just a few turns of the adjustment screws, we returned to the amp and were rewarded with pure, ballsy rock ’n’ roll crunch—tight and defined but with great string detail. In the absence of a Tone control, we found the best balance of frequencies came with the Volume knob rolled off just slightly from maximum. We were fairly certain, at that point, that we could detect the Krautster sneering at the other guitars in the room.
Moving back to preliminary steps like playing the guitar unplugged for a long while did not prove disappointing. In fact, the guitar surprised us with the quality of its unamplified voice. Each string rings out pure and clear, and with a detectable zing that exposes the level of its construction. Other welcome features for this reviewer are the compound radius fretboard (10" to 14"), which makes less work out of different kinds of playing, and the 25" scale length, which keeps the strings from giving as much as with the other humbucker-equipped, set-neck single-cut guitars I’m used to. Testing it with other amps revealed it to be a guitar that’s all about just what Huber claims: “the essence of rock.” It’s best clean tones are most easily achieved by dialing the amp’s gain and volume high and riding the guitar’s Volume on its lowest settings. Raising the volume a touch to add some dirt produces a full-bodied, low-gain crunch that sets a standard. The Häussel Custom Humbucker is extremely sensitive to touch and playing dynamics—though it should be noted that it tends more toward a modern rock sound than a vintage one. With the volume full up (or nearly so), and plenty of gain on the amp, the Krautster simply shines.
That’s enough of a recommendation right there, but the Krautster has one more trick up its sleeve. Pulling up on the Volume knob splits the humbucker into a single-coil—the same heat and the same sensitivity, but leaner and meaner, with great bite. Set for single-coil operation and running through the Top Boost channel of an AC30 with a decent amount of gain, the guitar was at once both delicate and fierce, capable of scorching, single-note leads but still yielding a ring and shimmer with lighter strumming or fingerpicked chords. Coil splitting is a common enough feature these days, but few guitars display such different personalities on the basis of that feature alone.
The Final Mojo
When all is said and done, Nik Huber’s Krautster is clearly a rockmobile, but it’s not as “plain Jane” as it might appear. It has more than its fair share of grace. It’s a thrill to play and to hear, and there is no doubt it was made to be put to regular use. The double-action truss rod received only one minor adjustment as the warmer weather began to take hold, so it’s also apparent the guitar holds a setup quite well. If I had to point to one reservation, I would say I lament the lack of a Tone control— but that’s only because I suspect there’s a remarkable woman tone lurking in that Häussel pickup, and it’s housed in a guitar that would showcase that kind of tone perfectly, both visually and aurally. Nik Huber truly is one heckuva nice guy, though, so I’m willing to bet he’d put one in if you really wanted him to.
you want one of the most finely crafted rockers available.
you need a ten top or lots of pickups and knobs.
Street $2680 - Nik Huber - nikhuber-guitars.com
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.