Price paid: $ 600
Purchased from: Manselle Music
Sound — 9
The sound can go from fat and smooth to sharp and piercing in a matter of seconds, I love the range of tone this axe offers. One of the things that I lost when I switched out the electronics for DiMarzio active pickups is the broad range of tone. I am tempted to pop the original pickups back in. I have a Marshall half stack and also a Bogner custom shop Duende Seco Mojado. This guitar sounds great with both amps, but even mediocre guitars sound fairly good with my amps. I wanted a smoother and cleaner sound with more sustain and that is why I changed out the electronics, I gained sustain and smoothness but lost that incredible range of tone that came stock with the guitar. I like the simple but user friendly pickup layout, it gives you enough to play with but not too much to get confused over. Like I mentioned before the shielding was not up to par, I had to add a bunch of copper tape to cut out some of the noise from the pickups but found out it wasn't so much the pickups as the switch and pots on the guitar that were not very good quality. I replaced the pots and Switch and the tone improved a lot, but the tone range was not as great.
Overall Impression — 9
I have been playing for decades, I play rock and blues mostly. I own a PRS SC245, Gibson Les Paul, MIM Fender Strat, Ibanez Joe Satriana model, Carlson PG60 and a Parker custom shop Fly Mojo. This guitar is the easiest to play on and hold, I like the Parker and Ibanez almost as much as the Carlson in how they play and feel, but I like the tone of my Gibson, PRS and Carlson the best. I might sell my PRS because it is worth more than what I value it, the Carlson is a far better value and similar quality guitar. I didn't plan on adding it to my collection, but after playing on it I had to have it. The only thing I ended up not liking was the lack of shielding and some of the electroncis, but when you get down to it I was unhappy about how my PRS and Gibson were setup, and let's not even start in on other guitars. All in I think it is fantastic, especially for the price. I would expect a Korean or Japanese that is just as good sell for more, and these guitars are made in Oregon. I was able to visit the workshop recently, very small operation but they know their stuff. I will be checking out other Carlson guitars as soon as I get an itch to play something different.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar is built to last, it is comparable to my PRS and Gibson guitars with craftsmanship and how it has held up for the past year and a half. I was not thrilled with an officially licensed Floyd Rose instead of an original, but it has held up fine, the blades are still sharp and is working fine. The finish is very durable, I checked into that and it is a poly urethane clear coat. I have played gigs on the road with this guitar, it is as solid as any other American made guitar I own.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The setup straight from the dealer was fantastic. I was prepared to adjust the bridge, springs, shim or shave down the nut height, intonate and do a little fret work too. But I was pleasantly surprised when the frets were smooth and level, and the guitar intonated nearly perfectly. I have only had this experience with a Suhr guitar I almost bought, for a few thousand less this is by far a better deal. The feel of the neck is fantastic, it is easy to play and comfortable. The body is a little thinner compared to most and arched on the top and the back so it's easy to hold and stand with for whole band practices. I think the overall work on this guitar is great, it isn't as perfect as my PRS but is certainly as good as my Gibson, Fender or Parker. I am a bit finicky with pickups and tuning machines, I have since changed out the pickups with DiMarzios and ended up going back to the stock pickups because of the crisp and accurate edgy sound. They are surprisingly nice for stock pickups, most guitars have horrible stock pickups unless the price tag is over $2,000 and even then it is a toss up. The neck pocket is tight and accurate, bridge and pickup cavities are precise and the neck is fantastic. Once again, the electronic components (pots and switch) could be better and the cavities should be shielded with copper instead of just the industrial finish so many guitar makers use.
Features — 9
This PG60 guitar was made in 2008 in Clackamas, Oregon USA. This double cutaway features a solid Ash wood body, hard maple neck with rosewood fretboard. I got the clearcoat natural finish, although I was tempted to get the black cherry because of how rich and sharp it looked. The 22 frets are medium jumbo size and the body has a contoured edge, so the center of the guitar is thick and the edges are thinner as if the top and back are arched. I think of it as a crossover between a Ibanez Joe Satriani model and a Fender Stratocaster. The PG60 is setup like a fat Strat, it has a single coil middle and neck pickup, and a humbucker at the bridge and sound amazingly sharp and clean for passive pickups. The pickups are made for Carlson, I checked into where and how they are made and they are similar to a handful of other mid range higher output passive pickups. The company that makes the pickups for Carlson guitars also makes for other brands like EMG and are located in Korea. There is one volume and one tone control and a 5 way selector Switch. The bridge is a Floyd Rose which is one of the Korean made Officially Licensed Original and Speedloader combo, I have seen some of these bridges before online and with a few guitar parts suppliers and are probably made by Gotoh or Schaller. The tuning machines match the gold colored hardware and are Gotoh sealed tuners. The neck and fretboard are the highlight of the guitar. The neck is really slim and easy to play, it is not toothpick thin but is certainly thinner compared to most guitars. The fretboard is pretty broad making shredding and solos easier to play, especially compared to my 70's Gibson Les Paul. Finish work is great, better than most guitars I own and have played. I was not impressed with the lack of shielding and the quality of electronics. The price of the guitar was reflected with the electronics used, I am spoiled with Gibson and PRS components I guess.