Butch Boswell may be known for his high-end acoustic guitars (check out our review of the Dreadnought D at guitarplayer.com), but this highly skilled builder and repairman—who also does warranty work for Collings, Martin, National Resophonic, Santa Cruz, Taylor, and others—just released a new solidbody electric called the BG-R, the “R” suffix denoting that it has a redwood body. “I love the redwood sound and feel, and would prefer to work with it primarily; but people are going to want what they want,” says Boswell. The lightweight redwood slab on this particular guitar actually came from a sign that hung for many years outside the first guitar shop that Boswell worked at. After receiving it as a gift, he stored it for another 10 years before deciding to use it on this instrument.
Though the body shape suggests an SG, the BG-R is an animal all its own. The stunningly flamed roasted-maple neck attaches with four bolts in a staggered pattern, and the headstock holds precise-feeling Schaller Da Vinci machines, which feature a see-through window on the back for your mechanical viewing pleasure. Other items of note include a hardtail Mastery bridge with electro-polished brass saddles and swivels, and retro-style radio knobs, which control a trio of Lollar Gold-Foil pickups. These upgraded versions of a Japanese guitar pickup from the 1960s feed a 3-way selector that is augmented by a mini toggle switch to provide the following pickup configurations: Switch down; the 3-way selects neck, neck + bridge, and bridge only. Switch up; the 3-way selects neck + middle, neck-middle-bridge, and middle + bridge.
Light and nimble in the hands, the BG-R, with its beefy neck, well-attended frets, and expert setup, has a superb playing feel. The natural sustain is impressive, and the guitar sounds nicely in-tune throughout the reaches of its Brazilian rosewood fretboard. This resonant guitar gave up some beautifully textured tones when played though a Fender Deluxe Reverb reissue (hand-wired by George Alessandro), a Vox AC10 C1 1x10 combo, and a Mesa/Boogie JP-2C head driving a Mesa Slant 1x12 cab. With the mini-toggle in the up position the BG-R works basically like a standard twin-pickup guitar, letting you flick between the neck and bridge pickups for solos and jump to a neck/bridge combo for funkier tones and everything else. The Lollars impart a lively expressiveness to this recipe of wood that makes the BG-R “breathe” differently from any solidbody humbucker or a P-90 guitar I’ve heard. This quality really comes through when using the down position of the mini-toggle, which combines the pickups in every setting, yielding a variety of richly textured tones that work well when you want a voice that will complement standard single-coil and humbucker guitars. It’s akin to using a ’60s-era “pawnshop” electric to add vibe to a mix, but the Boswell’s boutique build and top-shelf components certainly elevate the experience.
While the BG-R here is a one-of-a-kind instrument, its concept and fun factor definitely make it something we hope Boswell continues to offer. Butch is doing his own thing in the world of custom solidbody electrics, and given this guitar’s awesome craftsmanship, sweet playabilty, and wealth of sounds, the BG-R is just the kind of guitar that players looking for something unique in the high-end market should check out.
PRICE $4,250 direct
NUT WIDTH 1.75" antique bone
NECK Roasted 5A flame maple, bolt-on
FRETBOARD Brazilian rosewood, 24.9" scale
TUNERS Schaller Da Vinci, chrome-plated
BRIDGE Mastery M6 Hardtail, thru-body stringing
PICKUPS Lollar Gold-Foil
CONTROLS Volume, Tone, 3-way switch, mini toggle that provides two switching schemes for the 3-way selector
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario, .010-.046
WEIGHT 6.86 lbs
KUDOS Interesting blending of woods, pickups, and hardware in a superbly crafted bolt-neck instrument.
CONCERNS Three pickups can make picking feel a bit cramped.