Scott Heatley has been building guitars in British Columbia since 1997, and currently produces about 20 hand-made guitars each year, in a limited range of “standard” models that are generally kitted out as custom-ordered instruments. Following noteworthy interest in his flagship Retro-Matic semi-hollow, Heatley recently introduced the Parisienne, which uses the same ’60s catalog-guitar-inspired body shape as the Retro-Matic, but with a reduction of about 30 percent in its overall dimensions, resulting in a compact and comfortable single-cut, set-neck guitar. To call the Parisienne the other Heatley’s “little brother,” however, overlooks the fact that this is one decked-out showstopper itself—especially as equipped in our review sample, with striking candy orange metalflake finish contrasted by white binding and plastics, block markers, large “H” headstock (think Kay Kelvinator), and nickel pickup covers (bling totaling a $650 mark-up).
Looks-wise, the Parisienne is knockout. In fact, I was so busy enjoying the none-moresparkly, three-dimensional splendor of the neck back’s finish under my hand that I’d been going at it for some time before pausing to realize just how easily the guitar played, and how robust it sounded unplugged. The solid korina body and neck make a lightweight and superbly resonant pairing (other woods are available). The neck’s rounded-C profile feels great in the hand, and Heatley’s fretwork is faultless. Other details include a pair of Wolfetone P-90 pickups custom-wound to Heatley’s own specs, and a stud-mounted adjustable aluminum ATB wrap-around bridge that presents them with plenty of ring and sustain. In short, it’s a top-notch piece of luthiery that doesn’t sacrifice build quality or feel for the sake of its sparkles-in-the-spotlight stage look.
Tested through a tweed Tremolux combo and a custom JTM45-inspired head through a Port City 2x12 cab with Fane A60 and Celestion G12-65 speakers, the Parisienne belied its outré styling with some downright raw and rocking tones. The lightweight korina’s harmonic detail and ultra-fine granularity paired with the hot-leaning P-90s’ grit and snarl made for some bluesy, full-throated near-clean tones in all positions, which translated to woody, reedy, wailing lead voicings with either amp pushed a little. This was great for anything from gutsy garage rock to alt-leaning twang, and stellar for both bluesy and ’billy flavors of slide, too. The Parisienne sounded excellent with an Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer and a Gas FX Drive Thru overdrive, both of which added a buoyant texture to the already saturated response. Given the guitar’s bountiful mids and raw, open voice, things got a little hairy via a Blackout Effectors Musket Fuzz—but the combination was a blast nevertheless. I felt I’d have enjoyed sampling this guitar with some vintage-wind P-90s as an alternative, but this set did clean up well as the guitar’s Volume control was rolled down, and provided impressive versatility for just about anything in rock’s broad camp. All in all, the Heatley Parisienne is a visually stunning, powerful-sounding, and easy playing beauty that absolutely warrants an Editors’ Pick Award.
PRICE $2,500 retail ($3,150 as reviewed)
NUTWIDTH 1 11/16" bone
FRETBOARD Rosewood, 24.625" scale
FRETS 22 medium-jumbo
TUNERS Hipshot open-back
BODY Solid korina
BRIDGE ATB adjustable nickel-plated aluminum wraparound
PICKUPS Wolfetone Custom Heatley-spec P-90s (7.9kΩ neck, 8.8kΩ bridge)
CONTROLS Single Volume and Tone, 3-way pickup selector
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario, .010-.046
WEIGHT 6.6 lbs
KUDOS Stellar retro-modern looks. Excellent build quality. Appealingly raw and rocking tones.