The Folsom is the latest solidbody model from Petaluma, California–based Grez Guitars, and it features the seldom-seen combination of a single-cutaway basswood body and a glued-in mahogany neck with a 25-inch-scale ebony fretboard. The three versions being offered all pair a Lollar Firebird humbucking pickup in the neck position with a Fralin Tele single-coil in the rear, and the textured black pickguard surrounding them is reminiscent of something Paul Bigsby might have designed in the 1950s.
There are a trio of hardware options: a Mastery bridge and Bigsby B5 vibrato ($2,780), a Mastery bridge and Grez tailpiece ($2,680), and the setup that our review model came with, a Wilkinson Tele bridge with three adjustable saddles and through-body stringing. The three glossy nitro finishes Grez offers are Natural, Light Cream and Pearl Metallic Grey. Cosmetics are simple: maple dot position markers, cream celluloid dots on the fretboard and an abalone Grez logo on an ebony-faced headstock that holds nickel-plated Grover open-gear tuning machines.
This light guitar (6.5 pounds) plays excellently thanks to a moderately thick neck that feels like a vintage Gibson profile and the beautifully shaped and finished jumbo frets on an ebony fretboard. The action is nice and low, and you can reach way up the ’board with negligible string buzz.
The Folsom has a lovely acoustic sound, very open and resonant, and its abundant sustain makes it all the more fun to play. It sounded great plugged into a Fender Deluxe Reverb reissue with hand-wired circuitry by George Alessandro. Its clean tones are full and well balanced, and from the richly detailed sounds of the Lollar neck pickup to the fat, Tele-like twang of the Fralin bridge unit, the Folsom covers a wide swath of sonic ground with the kind of depth and presence that make it ideal for going straight into an amp and juicing things up with just reverb and tremolo.
Pumped up via a selection of boost and distortion pedals, it sounded cool for gritty playing and solos, and even though the bridge setting has bite aplenty, it could deliver buttery distortion tones with just a little roll-off of the tone control and perhaps keeping the volume knob a bit less than full bore.
While I didn’t have the opportunity to compare it to the other Folsom versions, this model, with its Tele-fied Les Paul Junior persona, strikes me as totally hip. It would be a great choice for anyone into blues, jazz, country or otherwise who wants a lightweight and toneful guitar that combines some of the best attributes of vintage Fender and Gibson. That it all comes together in a way that’s uniquely Grez is certainly part of the charm here.
PRICE $2,480 street, as tested with Tele-style bridge
NUT WIDTH 1.69" bone
NECK Honduran mahogany
FRETBOARD Macassar ebony, 25" scale
TUNERS Grover Sta-Tite
FRETS 21 jumbo
PICKUPS Lollar Firebird (neck), Fralin Tele (bridge)
CONTROLS Volume, tone, three-way switch
BRIDGE Wilkinson Tele-style
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario EXL 115 .011–.049
WEIGHT 6.5 lbs
KUDOS Nicely made, superbly playable and very tuneful