By Michael Molenda Classic shapes usually become classics for good reason—they’re striking, they’re functional, and they typically enjoy a vampire’s lifespan of coolness. Small wonder, then, that a fair number of guitarists are often reluctant to surrender the comforts of vintage propriety for a Frank Gehry-style revolt against conventional architecture. To seduce the retro eye, a new guitar must strongly evoke the past without actually Xeroxing it, and that is a pursuit that unleashes many devils in the design details. And yet Yamaha, with its usual quiet sophistication, has recast one of guitardom’s venerable profiles to craft an exquisitely modern twist on the single-cutaway, dual-humbucker theme. The new AES620 ($499 street) isn’t vastly re-engineered on a Gehry level, but its beveled cutaway and radically contoured top (which was inspired by a desire to update the design profile of Yamaha’s AES500 and AES800 guitars) make for a stunning visage that telegraphs something different is afoot. Other cool features include recessed chrome knobs, a clever “mid-rump” input jack (at the guitar’s base; directly in line with the neck), two bottom strap buttons (for quick-and-easy position adjustments), and chromed anchors for the through-body stringing. The AES620 manages to look simulaneously classic and moderne/ tough and posh—no small feat—and it’s so artfully hip that it really deserves an edgy, cooler-than-all-hell name, rather than a dreary model number. Workmanship The Korean-made AES620 displays no finish or construction flaws. Even the crankiest judge at an international dog show wouldn’t be able to knock off points for this model. In fact, it seems that substantial effort has been made to beautify every appointment. The tiny abalone fretboard dots, for example, appear as if they have been carefully selected to display interesting patterns and splashes of color. In addition, the book-matched maple-veneer top shows off such a glorious flame pattern that you’d almost expect it was personally chosen for you from a number of less-satisfying options. The exposed wood “binding” is equally superb, and all hardware is gig-tough and firmly attached. Playability A chunky, vintage-style set neck and polished, finely rounded frets collaborate to offer a comfy playing feel that inspires heavy chording, aggressive riffing, and rapid-fire soloing with equal confidence.
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)
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Country-Influenced Application of Hybrid Picking for Blues and Rock
Guitarist Shreds Country-Fried Version of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps"
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