One of the best parts of reviewing gear for GP is when I’m assigned a super-upscale guitar that I can play and enjoy for several weeks—such as this Framus Master-built Television P90. First off, I couldn’t stop staring at the unbelievably striking bleached turquoise-blue finish. It’s like viewing the ocean from a remote South Pacific island on a clear spring day, as the “ocean waves” of the Television’s striped maple top ebb and flow in an almost hypnotic dance. A big part of the illusion is due to Framus’ exclusive water-based UV lacquering process that results in an ultrathin, clear finish.
Looks aside, what do you get when you invest in a Masterbuilt Framus? Well, the attention to detail all over this handcrafted guitar is staggering. From the rubber rings on the chromed Volume and Tone controls (which give your fingers something to easily grab hold of), to the perfectly dressed frets (thanks to Plek fret-dressing technology and Framus/Warwick’s exclusive “Invisible Fret” process), to thoughtful “little goodies” such as the fluorescent side dots on the neck, a tool kit, and an awesome leather gig bag, the Television hits all of the right marks for a luxury model. Even the hand-selected wood used to build the instrument is naturally dried for a minimum of five years in a moisture-controlled environment. And all of this is done by a family-owned company in a carbon-neutral factory—an industry first.
Despite the unusual shape of its semi-hollow body, the Television feels balanced and sits comfortably on my shoulder. It’s also very light—weighing in at less than 8 lbs—and I can attest to the lack of fatigue after extended rehearsal sessions. This was a big bonus for me, as I’ve recently dealt with some back problems, and the heavier guitars in my collection are often difficult to manage if I’m standing and playing for too long. Overall, the Television felt comfortable immediately. There was no period of “playing it in.” Much of this is due to the neck, the back of which is sanded almost glass smooth, and gives you a great feel of the wood grain. It’s also wide enough to make playing chord in any position a breeze, yet it’s slim enough that single-note runs, double-stops, unison bends, and wide interval steps can be executed with almost no effort.
The Television was getting under my skin before I even plugged it in, but once I did—wow. The Seymour Duncan P90s deliver a crisp yet meaty tone that’s both bright and gutsy. There’s lots of bite and girth to the Television’s sweet, bell-like tones, and the pickups are a great match for the body’s aged maple and mahogany, because you can really hear the resonance of the wood. When I dimed the guitar’s master Volume, both the neck and bridge pickups yielded a very satisfying crunch with lots of sustain for solos. Backing off the volume didn’t compromise midrange articulation much, making the sound perfect for comping and rhythm-guitar parts. Even when I rolled off the master Tone knob, the sound was warm and jazzy, but still chock full of note definition.
Some instruments are just inspiring from the get-go, and you want to keep playing them for hours on end. If you are ever able to spend just a few minutes with the Television, you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about. This is an expensive guitar, to be sure, but the quality, presentation, tone, playability, and ultra-exclusivity all stand up to the investment, and the Television P90 certainly deserves an Editors’ Pick Award.
MASTERBUILT TELEVISION P90
PRICE $6,999 street
NUT WIDTH 1.7" (Graph Tech Black Tusq Low Friction)
NECK Mahogany, set
FRETBOARD Tigerstripe Ebony, 25.5" scale, 12" radius
FRETS 22 extra-high jumbo, nickel-silver
TUNERS Graph Tech Ratio Locking with wood knobs
BODY Flamed AAAA maple top and back over mahogany
PICKUPS Seymour Duncan P90 RW/RP (neck), Seymour Duncan P90 (bridge)
CONTROLS Master Volume, master Tone, 3-way selector
FACTORY STRINGS Cleartone, .010-.046
WEIGHT 7.7 lbs
KUDOS Brilliant looks. Great tone. Feels wonderful to play.
CONCERNS An ultra-lush Framus can be costly.