I met the simultaneously cool
and gregarious Jim Normandy quite accidentally
at a NAMM show, when the blinding whitelightning
flare of his first chrome hollowbody
pierced my eyeballs. When I could see again,
Jim and I talked, and I ended up reviewing the
Normandy ATG-CH in the February 2009 GP.
Since then, the crafty luthier has expanded
his American-made product line to V Guitars
and Alumicasters, basses, and pedals (see sidebar),
and is considering manufacturing affordable
models offshore (he solicited opinions on
the plan via his Facebook page). Normandy’s
Salem, Oregon, music store was also chosen as
one of America’s Top Indie Guitar Shops in last
month’s GP reader survey. (Call the shop, and
it’s likely Jim himself will answer the phone—
how cool is that?) Not bad for a cat I could have
completely passed by had I been wearing sunglasses
that fateful day.
Normandy’s Alumicaster pays obvious
homage to a classic solidbody design, but the
little demons are in the details, and this is no
bland clone. The Alumicaster’s most telling
feature is its aluminum body, but that body is
also semi-hollow, which imparts an airy zing
and shimmering resonance to its tone. The Seymour-
Duncan single-coil (neck) and humbucker
(bridge) pickups are a great match for the body
type. Bridge tones are edgy, snotty, and tough
without being overly bright or aggressive, and
the neck- and middle-position sounds possess
a bluesy pop that combines a taut low end with
a midrange snap. String-to-string articulation is
very good, and the Alumicaster retains its punch
and dimensionality whether you’re playing clean,
overdriven, or super saturated. I wouldn’t play
trad jazz or metal on this puppy, but, sonically
speaking, all rock and blues stylings rule.
The Alumicaster is easy and fun to play. It’s
light, and the neck doesn’t fight you at all. I
could riff through hours of gigs and sessions
without feeling any fatigue. Construction is very
good for a $2,000 guitar, but falls a bit short of
excellent. The Graph Tech nut has sharp edges,
the humbucker knocks around in its mounting,
and the fret ends are slightly sharp, but all other
hardware and finish elements are top drawer.
Like all of Jim Normandy’s designs,
the Alumicaster takes a classic recipe
and adds some rockin’ spice to the dish.
The opportunity is there to sound and
look somewhat unique as you thrash
about on a near-indestructible, American-
made boutique guitar. If a series of
“Born to be Wild” moments are in your
future, you should meet this kick-ass
CONTACT Normandy Guitars;
PRICE $2,599 retail/$1,949 street
NUT WIDTH 111/16"
SCALE LENGTH 251/2"
FRETS 22 medium
TUNERS Chrome, 16:1 ratio
BODY Aircraft grade aluminum
BRIDGE Modern T-style with adjustable saddles
PICKUPS Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound single-
coil (neck), Seymour Duncan SH-11
Custom Custom humbucker (bridge)
CONTROLS Volume, Tone, 3-way selector
FACTORY STRINGS Ernie Ball Slinky, .010-.046 set
WEIGHT 7.0 lbs
KUDOS Looks cool. Sounds tough.
CONCERNS Minor construction issues. Chrome
finish shows fingerprints
Jim Normandy’s first foray into pedals is a winner. The made-in-the-
USA O-CB overdrive/boost ($225 retail/$169 street) offers truebypass
switching, classic 1N60 germanium clipping diodes, a single
op-amp design, Tantalum capacitors, a 30dB clean boost, and a
battle-hardened case that survived my toss-the-pedal-acrossthe-
stage test with no ill effects. The overdrive sounds organic
and warm with subtly hyped mids, and it reacts well to playing
dynamics and manipulations of your guitar’s volume knob.
It’s not a particularly idiosyncratic tone, but it rocks the
house with classic-amp grind. The boost is a lifesaver if
you want solos to explode out of the band mix, or your
amp headroom is nearly tapped out. Coloration is almost
non-existent, so your tone stays your tone. The O-CB is my
new secret weapon! —Michael Molenda
Welcome to Bass Player's December 2016 Links Page
Bass Player Live! 2016 Photo Recap
Somewhere Over the Rainbow with Bob Curiano (Nouveau) (WEB EXCLUSIVE)
Pro Sound Effects Releases Tokyo Ambisonics Library
Kaltman Creations Introduces Tablet RF Analyzer
Depeche Mode Announce 2017 Global Spirit Tour
Mark Gray Synth Solo
Output Announces New Exhale Expansion - Indie Vocals
Native Instruments Introduces Symphony Essentials
How Charlie Christian Defined the Electric Guitar and the Guitar Hero Myth
Is Taylor Swift the New Eddie Van Halen?
Paul Gilbert: â€œWhy My String Gauges Are Changing All the Timeâ€
Megadeth's Dave Mustaine Announces Special 'Thrashing Through the Snow' Holiday Acoustic Performance
Photo of the Day: Couple Takes Epic Engagement Photo with Black Metal Band
Whores Premiere First Ever Music Video for New Song, â€œI See You are Also Wearing a Black T-Shirt"
Former Yes Man Trevor Rabin Talks Favorite Guitars, Film Scores and "Owner of a Lonely Heart"
Country-Influenced Application of Hybrid Picking for Blues and Rock
Guitarist Shreds Country-Fried Version of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps"
Copyright ©2016 by NewBay Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 28 East 28th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10016 T (212) 378-0400 F (212) 378-0470