Price paid: $ 1250
Purchased from: Jeff's Guitar Warehouse
Features: 2006 Custom Shop Heritage 555. The aesthetics of the 555 is almost identical to a Gibson 335, the Heritage sports a smaller headstock though. Heritage guitars are all made in Kalamazoo, Michigan at the old Gibson plant, using old Gibson machines. My 555 has a flame maple body and neck, with an ebony fretboard, stop bar tailpiece with tune-o-matic bridge and mother-of-pearl inlays. Comes equipped with grover tuners and comes with a nice hard shell case.
My 555 is equipped with the HRW pickups with double vari-phase controls (custom shop option). From what I can gather, HRW pickups are hand wired custom pickups designed to work with their vari-phase controls (which allow the user to throw the pickups out of phase). The HRW pickups also have coil-tap controls so that the pickups can function as humbuckers or single coils.
Knob and switch functions (from their site):
Lower left = master volume control, for both pickups
Lower right = master tone control , both pickups.
Upper left VIP control knob.
10 = in phase, for fingerboard pickup.
0 = out of phase, for fingerboard pickup.
( mini switch down) Please note that when on "O", there is little volume, because the bass and mid-range have been phased out.
Upper right VIP control knob.
10 = in phase, for bridge pickup.
0 = out of phase, for bridge pickup.
(mini switch down) Please note that when on "O", there is little volume, because the bass and mid-range have been phased out.
Two Mini Switches: (3-way)
The one on the left = Fingerboard Pickup,
The one on the right = Bridge pickup.
Position: 1 (Down) = VIP (VAR-I-Phase)
The only time the VIP works, is when the mini-switch is down, for that pickup.
Position : 2 - (Middle) = FULL, (Both Coils), (normal)
Position : 3 - (UP) = COIL TAP, (single coil) // 9
Sound: This is an amazing sounding guitar, partly because of how versatile it is. The adaptability to playing style and equipment is mainly due to all the options you have with your pickups. This guitar sounds great with everything set to default, but if you here anything that can be "tightened up" you can do so with a couple flicks of some switches, for example:
-too muddy? Run the bridge pup in HB mode and neck in SC mode
-a little too bright? Run the bridge pup in SC and neck in HB mode.
There is also times I have been able to 'dial' this guitar in with amps that are 'humbucker unfriendly' amps (amps that sound best with single coil guitars). My '55 Kay Supro is very picky about liking single coil pups and does NOT like low end (cuz of the 6" speaker) and I was able to throw my pups out-of-phase enough to sound brilliant with the amp.
So whether you need a full or slim tone, this has you covered. The body and neck is all maple so it has quite a bit of attack. When running on full humbucker mode you can sound quite full and help fill the mix in quite a bit. The leads are very glassy, but not overly aggressive.
I mainly play this guitar with jazzy/fusion/country/blues/rock style applications (sounds quite good in all those apps). The guitar sounds a bit too smooth for heavier high gain genre's or even raw old school punk. This guitar sounds great with headroom and complex chords, but can get quite gritty sounding when pushed real loud. // 9
Action, Fit & Finish: This guitar plays like a superb custom shop guitar from a manufacturer that has rightfully earned their reputation. The action is incredibly comfortable with the ebony fretboard. I can't speak enough good things about the pickup setup and the wood selection and finish are meticulous. Someone who loved building jaw-dropping guitars made my instrument.
I have played quite a number of Gibsons, Gretchs, and Epiphones and the 555 is comparable or superior on various quality points. In my opinion these guitars are overlooked (partly due to lack of advertising?) but compete with the best of high quality semi-hollow and hollow guitar makers. // 10
Reliability & Durability: The guitar still looks new, but I keep it in it's case. The hardware is high quality, but I may upgrade the bridge to something like a Callaham and maybe upgrade the tuners to locking tuners. I have gigged with the guitar a number of times, it performs consistently and stays in tune pretty well. // 9
Overall Impression: I play eclectic, rock-based music. This guitar gets brought out when I need complex chords to be articulated or various times when I prefer to hear it in the mix. I have been playing about 15 years and own a bunch of other gear and this guitar ranks among the best I have ever played and I feel lucky to own it at all. This guitar is the most adaptable guitar I own, so it can adapt itself to sound good with any of my amps (couple Supros, old Danelectro, few Music Man amps, JTM45, 18-watt Marshall, Sunn 1200S, Epiphone EA-300 RVT, Orange OR50H, THD Bivalve, Acoustic 270 to name a few) which opens up more options when I gig and I like that.
It would be nice if the guitar had two volume controls instead of one, with two controls I could do killswitch tricks. I wouldn't be upset to see locking tuners on the guitar either. If lost or stolen, I my entertain the idea of getting a Gretsch or a Rickenbacker but the Heritage 555 would still be might tempting. // 9