Features — 10
This is a 6 string handmade guitar from Swiss independent luthier Patrick Hufschmid, which I commissioned in 2012 as a follow up to the 8 string guitar he had built for me previously. The specification is as follows:
- One piece quatersawn Sapelli Mahogany body
- One pice riftsawn Afzelia "Doussie" neck
- Grafted Walnut (Franquette + Claro) top
- West African Ebony fingerboard, 12" radius, 24 frets, 25.5" scale
- White Ebony rear control cavity cover
- Hipshot bridge, Sperzel tuners
- Techtron Nut
- Hufglow Side Inlays
- Custom handwound Hufschmid pickups by Kent Armstrong
Obviously this is a premium spec'd instrument with nothing but the best quality used for all materials and hardware.
Sound — 10
I am primarily a modern rock/heavy metal guitarist and I bought this guitar to be the main instrument in my own band. However, I work as a full-time professional guitar tutor and play with numerous other bands across many varied styles of popular music and I need an instrument that's going to offer maximum versatility with minimum fuss.
The guitar has a very thick, warm tone that really sounds great for modern high gain tones when used in conjunction with contemporary metal amps (think Diezel, Engl etc). Due to the high output of the pickups less gain is required from the amplifiers themselves which results in a very clear, focused tone that doesn't need as much distortion "fuzzing up" the sound in order to come out strong and articulate.
The Kent Armstrong pickups are absolutely sublime in this guitar. Not to be confused with the cheap production pickups bearing Kents name, these are handwound by the man himself and resin cast for a superior design and unique finish. Although they have a high output, they are passive pickups and retain the dynamic fullness you would expect. I regularly use clean and low-gain bluesy type sounds and this guitar sounds fantastic for them - the pickups are extremely dynamic in these situations, while having a smooth top-end that reduces the need for compression, especially on clean tones (Fender Deluxe spankiness is perfect with the split pickup selection, but warm modern jazz tones are also easily accessible with the neck pickup and tone control rolled right down). In the most general way, this guitar is in the 'Les Paul' ballpark for tones and responsiveness.
I am experienced with many high-end instruments from most of the 'big name' manufacturers, and am actually fortunate enough to own several examples of them myself. This instrument easily holds its own in terms of sound and versatility against all the big boys.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
This guitar was absolutely flawless out of the box. I can't fault any aspect of it whatsoever, the fretwork is perfect, the hardware is fitted perfectly, neat soldering job, and of course all the woodwork is exactly correct. It's crazy to think that Patrick created this neck by placing a piece of wood in a vice and attacking it by hand with a plane and chisel, but that's exactly how he does it. I absolutely love how unique this makes every guitar he creates, and the amount of work he puts into making sure each neck is perfect is immediately obvious the minute you pick up this instrument.
Special mention also must go to the immense "Hufglow" side inlays to the fingerboard, massive blocks of glow-in-the-dark material which really work and have made live performance considerably easier. They are of course immaculately inlaid into the fretboard.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I've held off writing this review for a while to make sure that I've completely lived with the instrument and am 100% comfortable with it. I've travelled, gigged a lot and recorded with it in numerous different scenarios and it has been completely reliable with no issues whatsoever throughout that time. The guitar has an overall feeling of being 'solid' and the simplicity of the design means that not only has nothing gone wrong with it but also that there's really very little that can go wrong with it, past the normal wear and tear to the frets, nut and saddles that any guitar will eventually develop from years of playing.
I would also like to note that I'm extremely impressed with the Sperzel machine heads on this guitar, which are extremely smooth and clearly contributing to how well the instrument holds tune.
Overall Impression — 10
This has been a slightly difficult review to write, as I can honestly only give the instrument 10 for each category but I'm aware that this causes huge debate and many people may discount my review on this basis. Is any guitar perfect? Of course not, because there will always be an element of personal opinion and bias featured in that decision. If I was a country player in Nashville making my living playing western swing gigs, this wouldn't be the ideal instrument but then that's not who I am. I'm a heavy metal guitarist in London making a living playing blues and teaching every imaginable guitar style (while secretly studying jazz guitar, but shhh!) and as such this guitar is honestly absolutely perfect for me.
That's really the point of buying a guitar from an independent luthier. You get a feel for the person who's building the instrument and their philosophies on guitar and design and if you feel as though you're both thinking along the same lines, you go for it and see what you get. In that sense, I can't fault this instrument - there's obviously no issues whatsoever with components or build quality, and it is everything I ever hoped it would be and more.
On a personal note, I would like to add that Patrick Hufschmid remains the easiest man to deal with that I have ever come across when buying anything. His desire to make sure everything is perfect to such a level is completely unheard of in my experience and he really will go the extra mile to make sure you are happy with everything, completing the order within a month of it being placed and shipping it overnight from Switzerland to London because he was genuinely excited for me to get the guitar and to hear my opinion of it. His no-bullshit attitude was what originally drew me to his guitars in the first place, and I can't really give the man a better endorsement than the fact I ordered a second guitar from him.
So like I say, overall this guitar has to be a 10 for me. It has the playability of a modern shredmachine, the simplicity of a telecaster and the fat, warm "Les Paul" style tone which is the heart of modern rock and metal. In addition, the guitar cost less than ordering through many of the "big name" custom shops for a considerably more personal service. In my opinion ordering a guitar through an independent luthier makes everyone a winner, and if you're thinking of going down that route then I would definitely recommend researching Hufschmid guitars further.