Devised as the signature model for skankin’ groove master Eddie Casillas—who is the founder of Riverside, California, seminal ska outfit the Voodoo Glow Skulls—the VooDoo was born from the bones of Dream Studios’ Twang plank. Casillas still carries a Twang on the road, but he wanted a simpler and more ferocious instrument to put his name on. As a result, the VooDoo has one pickup—a Seymour Duncan Active Blackout—black hardware, a kill switch, and a groovy black binding on its maple neck. It’s a lean and mean instrument, to float that old cliché, but it’s not “mean” in the sense of stingy or shabby. All of the pitchblack hardware looks great and it’s firmly attached. I loved the texture on the Volume and Tone knobs that make it easy to do swells without your pinky slipping off the controls. The lone pickup doesn’t rattle in its mount—even if you’re bouncing around the stage doing some manic dance convulsions—the matte black finish is flawless, and the neck is tightly affixed to the body with five bolts.
For fashion victims, the dolphin-like headstock may be an acquired taste, but who wouldn’t dig the Voodoo Glow Skulls’ skateboard logo at the 12th fret? I found the fret ends to be a bit jagged, and the edges of the nut are pretty sharp, as well, but these were the only construction issues I encountered.
Intonation is pretty good. All strings return accurate notes when played open and then pressed down at the 12th fret. Barre chords register just a few cents sharp at the 15th fret and beyond, but the tuning wasn’t objectionable—just less sweet.
If the VooDoo was designed to let a player move around onstage without feeling any resistance from the guitar, then it certainly hits that mark. It’s not only light—its comfy contours make it seem almost phantom-like. Everything just fits nicely against your body, and the thin, flat, satinfinished neck beckons you to dance all over it—hitting fast and funky rhythms, solos, licks, and riffs as if you were pummeling the strings with the power of your mind, rather than having to actually use your fingers. In other words—it’s really a joy to play.
I’m not a huge fan of active pickups, but the Seymour Duncan Blackout seems a great choice for a single-pickup guitar that doesn’t want to be a one-trick tone pony. The Blackout’s dynamics are excellent, and it tracks both hard and soft attacks quite nicely. You can also get tons of shimmer and spank out of the VooDoo by tamping down the guitar’s Volume knob. Crank things up and the VooDoo delivers a snarling overdrive that should cut through any band mix without being shrill. The mids sound tight, and there are no annoying barks or sizzles in the 3kHz to 7kHz range—which is great for not stepping on tenor-style vocalists with your guitar parts. The low end is taut enough—like my Les Paul Junior with P90s—but you won’t be copping any jazz moves with the VooDoo, even with the Tone knob rolled back all the way.
If you envision yourself as a funky-as-all-hell-groove machine, but want to mix some Steve Jones into your Nile Rodgers, the VooDoo may be just the right spice for your percolating rhythm aggression.
PRICE $1,299 direct
NUT WIDTH 1.65"
FRETBOARD Maple, 25.5" scale, bolt-on
TUNERS Schaller M6 Locking
BODY Swamp Ash
BRIDGE Tune-o-matic type
PICKUPS One Seymour Duncan Active Blackout
CONTROLS Master Volume, Master Tone, kill switch
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario EXL 110, .010-.046
WEIGHT 7 lbs
KUDOS Ergonomic dream. Dynamic. Good tonal diversity for a one-pickup model.