Features: This 8-string guitar was handmade by Patrick Hufschmid in 2010. It features a 27.5" Baritone scale with 24 frets and a zero radius bloodwood fingerboard, 100-year-old walnut neck, solid one-piece sapeli mahogany body and awesome unique Zebrano top, oil-finished to preserve the texture and natural beauty of the wood. The hardware is all top-quality hipshot, and the pickups are handwound by Kent Armstrong to match the tonal specifications I requested. The controls are 3-way pickup selector, one volume, one tone and one bright red killswitch, which has become a trademark of the Hufschmid design. // 10
Sound: This guitar sounds incredible. When ordering this guitar from Patrick I put a lot of trust into his knowledge and recommendations, and I'm extremely glad I did. The guitar has a notably thin body, which has really contributed to the extreme clarity of the guitar. In testing this guitar I noted that it resonates less from around 100hz downwards in comparison to other instruments, which is actually exactly what you would want from a guitar - even though this is an 8-string guitar with a low Fsharp, where you obviously want the bass resonance to make the earth shake, the frequencies from 100hz down are really nothing to do with the Meshuggah-like guitar sounds that many would be aiming for with an instrument like this. In fact, they are normally responsible for the muddiness that results in these low notes sounding like a horrible mush rather than the clearly defined pitches that you're aiming for. My theory that the reduced body mass was the main reason behind this was confirmed when I had the opportunity to try a load of Jaden Rose guitars - Jaden also builds instruments with thin bodies, and I was able to compare instruments with the same pickups, similar woods etc - the main difference was body mass. Once again, the thinner guitars were notably brighter and clearer, especially when playing on the low E string with heavy gain.
In addition, I must mention the Kent Armstrong pickups. Although Kent is not a hyped name or particularly renowned in metal circles (which is my background), he actually has extremely strong credentials - he's wound pickups for Pete Townsend and Jimmy Page, who upon hearing what he was doing asked him to join him as a guitar tech on tour with Led Zeppelin! I was therefore confident I was in for something special, but nothing could prepare me for the sheer quality of these pickups - by far and away better than any other pickup I've ever heard, they maintain clarity and fullness in extreme gain and yet also sound beautiful and pure in crystal clean-like settings, something that I can say I've honestly never found to be true in the DiMarzio or SD lines, where pickups are always leaning one way or the other. One of my favourite tonal tricks I use to demonstrate the versatility of these pickups is to emulate a Telecaster playing some country-style twang on the Bridge pickup, then Switch to the neck, roll off the tone knob a little and play some smokey George Benson-style lines with totally authentic tone without touching the amp settings at all! For reference, my main amps are a Diezel VH4 and an Axe-Fx Ultra. I've also played it through a Bogner Ecstacy, Fender Twin Reverb, Carvin Legacy, Carvin X100B and Marshall JCM800. Although the X100B and JCM800 struggled to handle the super-low notes when overdriven, I can confirm the tone was consistently breathtaking throughout! // 10
Action, Fit & Finish: This is a comfortable 10. Patrick is by far the most knowledgeable luthier/guitar technician I've ever spoken to, and he really delivered with this instrument. Absolutely no issues whatsoever in the year that I've owned this guitar. Beyond that, the fret job is absolutely flawless, the neck is incredible (can't believe it's handcarved!), and the top is just stunning - people regularly comment it's the best looking guitar they've ever seen. In addition I must mention that the guitar was shipped to me packed to withstand a nuclear war, and I didn't have to make any adjustments whatsoever to the set-up. Literally plug and play. // 10
Reliability & Durability: I've no doubt that this guitar will stand the test of time. The walnut neck is incredibly stable. Over the last year there's been a few times when the guitar has been exposed to extreme temperature changes, notably the time I decided to walk home from the studio in the snow (I was drunk and it seemed like a good idea!). In the morning I was fully prepared to be making truss rod adjustments, but lo and behold the neck had literally not moved. I couldn't believe it had handled a 45 minute walk in the snow at 2am without any change at all, but it actually had! // 10
Overall Impression: I'm a professional musician (meaning I make my entire living playing guitar), and as such it's important to me to own reliable gear that sounds great. The Hufschmid 8-string is definitely these things and more. It sounds amazing, looks amazing, plays amazing and gives me complete piece of mind on gigs and at sessions, as I'm 100% confident it's just never going to give me any issues what'soever. The reason I chose to go with Patrick when I was looking for a luthier to build me an 8-string guitar was simple. After contacting most of the major independent luthiers associated with this type of instrument, Patrick was the only one who replied who seemed to have the time and interest to discuss what I wanted with me until I was completely happy. He struck me as completely honest about his opinions on guitar building and totally genuine about his desire to ensure that my Hufschmid was right for me. Once I pulled the trigger he kept me entirely informed by emailing me daily on build progress, including numerous photos more often than not, and also phoned me twice for lengthy conversations to make sure I was totally happy. In conclusion, if you've checked his website and think that Hufschmid guitars are for you - go for it. They represent incredible quality, incredible customer service and incredible value-for-money, and I will definitely be ordering more in the future! // 10