Price paid: C$ 1300
Purchased from: Arpeggio's Guitar Boutique
Features: Made in 2009 in the mysterious orient and hand assembled and painted in Vancouver BC Canada, my Sparrow Big Daddy Ace is a 25 1/2 scale true hollow body guitar of laminated maple construction with a set maple neck.
Its body is a traditional single cutaway with classic F holes finished in lightning white with a natural maple faux binding, pearloid pickguard, and hand painted gold and purple flames accented with purple pinstriping.
My Big Daddy's 13 - 56 gauge "Fatties" strings cast a shadow on its wide, rosewood fretboard which is outfitted with 21 stainless steel frets, pearl split block inlays, and a bone nut. They are anchored by a tune-o-matic style bridge and Bigsby vibrato tailpiece, and tension is supplied by chromed Grover machine heads.
The vibrations are picked up by dual Kent Armstrong Dog Eared P-90s with chrome covers, passively controlled with a three position toggle and adjusted by way of full sized master tone, individual volume, and master volume potentiometers topped with classic chrome speed knobs.
All of this is protected from harm with a TKL manufactured hardshell case emblazoned with the Sparrow Guitar Co. Logo. // 10
Sound: The Big Daddy is a Retro inspired Rock-a-Billy machine, and is capable of producing beautiful warm cleans and snarling biting dirty tones when amped through a tube combo or halfstack. A reasonably versatile instrument, my Big Daddy can carry off any rock, blues, jazz or country style with ease. However, if "Brootalz Metalz" is your thing, I wouldn't recommend it.
The Bridge pick up gives a chiming clean tone, very bright and with a nice twang for finger picking, and it snarls like an angry pit-bull when overdriven, while still maintaining clarity.
The neck pick up puts out warm smooth tones, fantastic blues and jazz tones as you'd expect from a single coil equipped hollowbody. Overdriven, the neck P-90 responds with a rich thick bluesy tone, and sustain for days.
I play my Big Daddy through my early 90's Celestion equipped Peavey Transtube Special 212, using an Ibanez digital slapback delay and drenched in reverb for Rock-a-Billy, and Bluesy stuff, and I'll throw a TS9 into the mix for some Psychobilly or Cow Punk. It fits my style like a glove. When I hearken back to the high gain days, I'll Switch off to my Rat Rod (LP Style with 'buckers,) to carry it off.
I have also jammed on the Big Daddy through an Orange Tiny Terror Combo, and a Crate FW120 HS both with pleasing results. I'm reasonably confident that this guit-box can sound good through pretty much anything.
Given that it is a true Hollowbody with no sound blocks, my Big Daddy has the potential to squeal like a pig. The tendency seems to be reduced when playing through a tube amp (???) and I've also been able to minimize it by manipulating the master volume control and by doing other simple things such as moving farther away from my amp and not standing in directly front of it. // 8
Action, Fit & Finish: The Action, Fit and Finish, and Set up of my Big Daddy reflect the Sparrow guitar Co's claims of hand assembly and pride in product. Simply put, this guitar is flawless right from the factory. Everything is properly aligned and fitted, the action is set nice and low with no fret-buzz, pick ups are properly adjusted. It's no surprise that Sparrow stands behind its product with a lifetime warranty with finish and build quality like this. // 10
Reliability & Durability: I have absolute confidence in my Big Daddy's reliability. This Retro-Rocker was built by working musicians for working musicians and will stand up to the abuse of live playing. Big Daddy's of all trim levels (Pro, Boss, and Ace,) are played by many working and touring musicians in the Punk, Rock-a-Billy and Psychobilly scenes.
Grover tuners, hand wiring, and solid hardware lead me to believe that my Big Daddy will be around long after I'm gone.
There is no concern of the finish deteriorating on this guitar anytime soon, and even if the finish did fade, it would give the Big Daddy even more character.
My only point of contention is with the strap buttons. The stockers are small and don't hold up well once you get rockin'. I replaced them with strap locks soon after purchase. // 9
Overall Impression: The first thing that struck me when I picked up my Big Daddy about six months ago was the size of it, it's really a big guitar, and it puts out a big sound when played unplugged. It feels very solid and substantial in your hands, the neck is chunky and the fretbaord is fairly wide. It's strung with heavy strings, but the set up is such that it's still quite easy to play. Chuck Berry style bends are no problem even on the first to fifth frets. Grover tuners are great of course, no issues staying in tune with moderate use of the Bigsby.
My musical repertoire has broadened lately to include Rock-a-Billy, Psychobilly, Cow Punk, Punk, Straight Up Rock,'90s alt rock, and some classic rock. I could cover all of that with my Big Daddy, but I generally stick to the Rock-a-Billy, Psychobilly and Cow Punk with it which it's perfect for. For the rest I use my Rat Rod.
I was given my first stringed implement of musical destruction at the tender age of 11 and I'm 35 now, so you can do the math as to how long I've been playing. I also own a Sparrow Rat Rod Boss, and I have at one time or another had a motley assortment of axes in my arsenal including a Zakk Wylde inspired Les Paul Cop with Active pick ups, a PRS SE Standard, a Gretsch Electromatic Pro Jet, an '80 era Les Paul Studio, and an early CBS era Strat. Of all the guitars I have owned, my two Sparrows are my favorites, I would stack them up against the best of the best any day. My amps have been solid states ranging from a 30 watt Peavey combo with a 10, to the Crate Halfstack, to the current 200 watt Peavey Transtube 212, with effects including the venerable DS1, the aforementioned TS9 and Digital Delay, a Zvex Box Of Metal, and a Slash sig Crybaby.
I did a lot of sampling before I settled on the Big Daddy, I played the Ibanez Artcore Hollowbody, the Epiphone Dot, The Epiphone Wildkat, the Gretsch Electromatic 5120, and 5191b Tim Armstrong models and probably a bunch more that I'm forgetting about, and I settled on the Sparrow for a number reasons.
For the price, I thought the Big Daddy was a better value. It had more features, and was very well backed, the sound quality was great, the paint job was unlike anything else available, and as an added bonus I supported my country's economy.
I wouldn't hesitate to replace my Big Daddy with the same model if something were to happen to it. The only thing I would change about the Big Daddy is the stock strap buttons. The Sparrow Guitar Company is a great enterprise run by musicians for musicians, especially ones with a Punk Rock or Rock-a-Billy attitude.
So if you're looking for a hollowbody and can't afford a Gretsch or a Gibson, Sparrow is a high quality lower cost alternative that is absolutely worth checking out. // 10