The Orson Welles: Normandy ATG-CH

February 1, 2009

Overall, the U.S.A.-made ATG-CH is well constructed. The chromed finish is dazzling in its “hall of mirrors” majesty (although it spotlights every fingerprint, skin-oil swipe, and sweat splatter), the hardware is locked down solid, and a rounded nut is a considerate touch. However, the fret ends are rough, there were some dings and scratches on the edges of the rosewood fretboard, and the neck pocket is 1/16" larger than the neck on the cutaway side.

One of the first things you notice when strumming the ATG-CH is its loud and clear acoustic sound. The jangle has a pleasant metallic bite that is certainly less aggressive than a resonator’s raspy glory, but it sounds marvelous when miked up and used to layer some articulate chime under distorted solidbody tracks. When you plug in, and go to the neck pickup, you get a deep, resonant boom along with a sharp attack that almost sounds as if you layered a Gibson ES- 175 and a Fender Telecaster. The combined pickup position tames the boom a bit, and moves the snark forward to produce a taut, throaty snarl. Go for a full-on bridge-pickup tone, and you’ll hear a spiky, high-midrange snap with the shimmer of a Nashville-tuned acoustic. The only downsize of this metal/wood electronics gumbo is that it’s very difficult to dial in a warm, trad-jazz tone, but most other sounds are animated and dimensional. This is why the ATG-CH is the perfect “Orson Welles”—a director who battled convention, and thrilled cineastes with his multi- faceted visual smorgasbords.

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