Quantcast Ryan's Guitars: Soloway Guitars - 2010 Nashville Amp Expo

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Soloway Guitars - 2010 Nashville Amp Expo

The 2010 Nashville Amp Expo was an incredible experience this year. So many wonderful products and awesome builders. Unfortunately, two days doesn't give one nearly enough time to experience everything, so I had to carefully choose which rooms I dove into. Also, this year I felt it would be better if I were to elaborate a little more on each of the vendors and individuals I spent quality time with. The above sub-menu links to full blog posts based on my experiences with each of these fine builders and players.

I told myself I would not be purchasing any big-ticket items at this year's Amp Expo. It simply was not in the budget, and that was that. After meeting Jim Soloway and playing his guitars for the first time, boy did that resolution go flying out the window! Jim's room was my first stop at the Expo and we easily spent a couple of hours demo'ing guitars, talking gear and finding out which of the Soloways that Jim brought with him to the show was my favorite pick... or did it pick me?

Jim is one of those intense, passionate, super patient and genuinely nice guys that you just love to meet and hang out with. It was a real pleasure to hear Jim tell his story, explain his philosophy on luthery and to just hear him play. And, man can this guy play!

Jim inadvertently started Soloway Guitars about eight years ago while in search of his idea of the perfect guitar. Primarily a 7 string Jazz player, Jim was never quite satisfied with the often muddy low-end of the 7 string and wanted to build a guitar that had those "piano-like tones" he had been in search of his whole adult life. On his kitchen table one day, Jim drew and cut out a shape from construction paper (-- see photo left --) that would eventually become a series of three prototype guitars... all of which were 7 string designs. From there Jim and crew set about applying everything they had done and learned to a 6 string model and the current production Soloway Swan was born. All Swans have a 27" neck scale, which is often used on baritone guitars that are tuned from a perfect fifth to an octave lower than standard tuning. The Swan, however, is tuned to standard A440 pitch.

For many years the 27" scale, 6 string Swan was the only Soloway model offered. Jim recently announced a new direction at Soloway Guitars with the introduction of the 25.5" scale Gosling model. A six string guitar built exactly like the Swan, save for a few necessary adjustments to pickup and bridge placement; and, of course, the new shorter 25.5" neck scale. With the Gosling, Jim wanted to offer the same famous build quality, clarity of tone and focused lows Soloway Guitars is known for with the added comfort and familiarity of a 25.5" scale neck.

From the moment I placed my hands around the neck of the first guitar Jim handed to me (a Swan sporting a beautiful quilted burst top) I knew I was going to walk out with one. The fit and finish was flawless, the neck felt great and the tone... oh, the tone! The focus and clarity of these guitars is truly stunning. Even with full-tilt distortion these guitars ring with clarity and articulation and they sustain like no other guitar I've ever experienced. Once I got home with my Soloway, a gorgeous Gosling topped with a flamed redwood burst (-- see above right photo --), I promptly plugged into my rig and let it rip. I was amazed at how much clearer my single note runs sounded and how articulate the notes were in every chord I played, all over the neck. Look for a complete review of this guitar soon.

If you have never heard of Soloway Guitars, or if you have and are interested in trying one out you should contact Jim and arrange a demo. Jim keeps a couple of guitars in constant motion going from one test driver to another so you can see for yourself if a Soloway is right for you. I don't think you'll be disappointed!

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