To borrow a bit of drama from this summer’s torrent of science fiction blockbuster action films, I can imagine Framus owner Hans-Peter Wilfer, standing strong in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, saying, “We’re not going to build just any semi-hollow guitar—we’re going to build one that can save the world!”
Well, that’s fantasy, of course, and the Mayfield Custom is not some fabled crusader from a graphic novel or comic book. But Framus’ take on the popular semi-hollowbody design is slightly heroic in the sense that it brings superior quality to every facet of the Mayfield’s construction, hardware, playability, and sound. This is the kind of champion you want by your side if you’re caught in a musical firefight.
First off, it looks intimidating—kind of as if Megan Fox or Liam Hemsworth suddenly plopped down in a seat next to yours at Starbucks. The gorgeous Lagoon Blue Burst finish transforms the impeccable quilted-maple top into something like a precious gem, and hardly anything on the guitar mars the illusion. You see the same level of beauty on the back of the neck, the sides, and the back of the body. The white binding on the f-holes and the discreet chrome control knobs add to the guitar’s jaw-dropping looks, and they illustrate a very high commitment to design details by the Framus shop. Only the tiger-stripe-ebony pickguard seems a bit over the top, and is somewhat distracting against the glorious blue body hues.
Secondly, this is one of those guitars that melts into your body like a cuddly puppy. It feels cozy in every playing position, the neck is comfy and fast, you can easily work all the controls on the fly, and the tuning pegs turn extremely smoothly. It’s really hard to abandon this guitar once you start playing it. It’s simply that inviting and fun.
Finally, as much as guitarists can be seduced by beautiful instruments, it’s all just decoration unless there’s tonal muscle to match the looks. Strumming the Mayfield unplugged produces a balanced shimmer that’s quite lovely, and it projects enough to get you through songwriting and arrangement sessions without an amp. To see how this supermodel really roars, however, I plugged it into a new Roland Blues Cube Artist, a Vox AC30, and a Mesa/Boogie Stiletto half-stack. The neck pickup produces warm lows that feel as if they’re hugging you, but there’s also enough midrange articulation to ensure note intelligibility whether you go for clean or overdrive sounds. The bridge pickup delivers an airy snap with mids and highs that take the forefront without getting the least bit shrill or overly bright—even when you pick or strum aggressively. Combining the two humbuckers gets you a classic rock punch with taut bass, assertive mids, and subtle treble frequencies. Overall, I couldn’t dial in a tone on the Mayfield that was less than inspiring. Every note commands attention—and that’s one mammoth benefit when you’re trying to make music that grabs an audience.
The bottom line is the Mayfield Custom sounds wonderful for almost any musical style, plays great, and looks amazing. I’m calling it 2014’s “Sexiest Superhero of the Year.”
MAYFIELD CUSTOM QUILTED MAPLE
PRICE $4,899 street
NUT WIDTH 1 11/16" Graph Tech Tusq low-friction
NECK Flamed maple
FRETBOARD Tigerstripe ebony, 24.75" scale, 12" radius
FRETS 22 Extra high jumbo with Plek Invisible Fretwork
TUNERS Locking Graph Tech Ratio with wooden knobs
BODY Laminated AAA quilted-maple arched top and back, solid AAA quilted-maple sides
BRIDGE Tone Pros
PICKUPS Two Seymour Duncan APH-1
CONTROLS Two Volume, two Tone, 3-way selector switch
FACTORY STRINGS Cleartone, .010-.046
WEIGHT 7.12 lbs
KUDOS Stunning finish. Fantastic craftsmanship. Versatile and lively tones. Plays great.