Review: Homer T Sonic '63 and Turbo '62

Scott “Homer T” Gerber says he’s not trying to reinvent the wheel, just trying to make a great wheel at a great price.
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Scott “Homer T” Gerber says he’s not trying to reinvent the wheel, just trying to make a great wheel at a great price. We got where he’s coming from right off the bat when we lifted these guitars from their cases and started sussing them out. Both guitars show a deep reverence for all things loveable about early ’60s Strats and Teles, and while neither has been overly dolled up to look like they’ve been trotted around to every roadhouse in America (i.e., no cigarette burns, deep gashes, etc.) there’s a definite worn-in coolness to their nitro-lacquer finishes and, notably, the absence of finish on the backs of their necks. Other details common to both are high quality pots, switches, and cloth-covered wire. Neither has a string tree either, which Homer says reduces the tendency for the strings to bind over the nut.

SONIC ’63

Wearing a mildly “weather checked” Olympic White finish, aged plastic parts, and nickel-plated hardware, the Sonic ’63 looks at first blush like a clean pre-CBS Strat you might find in some hip vintage guitar store. Look again, though, and the sub-$2,000 sticker price snaps you back into reality. A nice reality too, because all the key vintage elements are reflected in its build—something you’ll notice as soon as you wrap your hand around that comfy, medium C profile neck and realize how good the setup and playability feel. I’d prefer the high E string to be slightly more inboard from the edge of the fretboard, but that’s about it. The neck joint is very tight and the 6-saddle vibrato bridge (adjusted for downward movement with three springs) provides smooth bending and reliable return to pitch. The inverted output jack looks a little odd but it does make it possible to use cords with right-angle plugs. You can always take it off and flip it over if you prefer the stock look.

Our Sonic ’63’s Lollar Blackface single-coils delivered nicely balanced sounds at every switch position. Played though a Carr Sportsman 1x12 combo, a Mesa/Boogie JP-2C (driving a 1x12 Recto cab or a 4x12 Bad Cat box), and a Boss Katana- 100, this guitar’s sounds ranged over everything from warm jazz vibes to creamy bridge-pickup distortion, with stops along the way for funky textures in positions 2 and 4, deep SRV-style overdriven neck tones, and twangy country. It’s worth noting that Homer T also offers an HSS pickup configuration and will install any pickups that the customer feels will suit their needs. The bottom line is that while there are no real surprises here, the Sonic ’63 is a thoughtfully crafted guitar that goes easily where you want it to and would be an excellent choice for any Strat aficionado looking for an inspiring instrument at a sensible price.

TURBO ’62

Swinging an upscale vibe with its bound sunburst slab body, the Turbo ’62 is optimized for players who love how a vintage Tele plays, but can also appreciate modern touches such as being able to adjust the intonation more precisely than is possible with the standard three-saddle bridge. That’s accomplished here via Homer T’s own custom bridge, which retains the sonic qualities of brass saddles but uses six of them that are independently adjustable. Stripped of finish on the back and carrying 22 medium height/width 6105 frets, the neck has an inviting feel, which is enhanced by a compound-radius rosewood fretboard that gradually flattens from 9.5" to 12" for easier fingering in the higher positions. Other details include a 4-screw plate-style output jack, which better suits right-angle plugs and is more rugged than a vintage-style aluminum cup jack. However, Homer T’s aim of making it easier to see and/or feel control settings by using set screws that stick out from the sides of the knobs inhibits pinky volume swells and tone rolling. I’d replace them with screws that are flush with the knobs.

As far as the stuff that really matters, the Turbo ’62 has a lively and resonant sound when picked acoustically, and its vibrational qualities make for inherently good sustain. The quality of the woods and hardware account for much of this, along with of course, the thin lacquer finish. It’s a classic case of everything working in sync, and when played though the aforementioned amps, the Turbo ’62 sounded like a good Tele should. The Lollar Vintage T bridge pickup transmits bright, pinging highs, but with plenty of girth, and the neck pickup balances roundness and clarity in just the right proportions. It has a robust response that’s very useful for jazz and blues soloing, and it blends well with the bridge unit to deliver rich rhythm sounds that can be shaped via the well-voiced Tone control for fuller or slinkier textures.

Attractively priced for an American-made T clone, the Turbo ’62 plays and sounds great, and it has just enough vintage vibe to give that feeling of playing something that’s been around making music for decades. If you’re eyeing the boutique Tele scene for something cool that your wallet can bear, you should definitely take a stroll through Homer T’s website.

SPECIFICATIONS

CONTACT homert.com

SONIC ’63

PRICE $1,595 direct
NUT WIDTH 1 5/8", antique bone
NECK Maple, medium C profile
FRETBOARD Maple, 25.5” scale, 9.5"-12" radius
FRETS 22 “6105”
TUNERS Gotoh
BODY Ash
BRIDGE Gotoh Vintage-style 6-screw
PICKUPS Lollar Blackface
CONTROLS Volume, Tone (neck), Tone (bridge), 5-way switch
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario EXL 110, .010-.046
WEIGHT 6.86 lbs
BUILT USA
KUDOS A great S-style guitar with the sound and feel of a vintage instrument.
CONCERNS High E string pulls off the edge of the fretboard pretty easily.

TURBO ’62

PRICE $1,795 direct
NUT WIDTH 1.650"
NECK Maple
FRETBOARD Rosewood, 25.5" scale, 9.5"-12" radius
FRETS 22 “6105”
TUNERS Gotoh
BODY Ash
BRIDGE Homer T Custom Vintage-Style with six brass saddles
PICKUPS Lollar Vintage T
CONTROLS Volume, Tone, 3-way switch
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario EXL 110, .010-.046
WEIGHT 7.16 lbs
BUILT USA
KUDOS Quality build, tones, and playability.
CONCERNS Would prefer to not have extended screws on the knobs.

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