The instruments that emanate from Johan Gustavsson’s workshop in Limhamn, Sweden, pay deep homage to the greats—Gibson and Fender in particular—yet incorporate many wholly original lines and features in a seamless blend of old and new that works toward an impressively organic whole. Arguably improving upon the best vintage masterpieces while still achieving that mystical “old guitar feel” is no mean feat, yet Gustavsson nails this alchemy instrument after instrument. He is probably best known for his mighty Bluesmaster Custom 59, hailed by many as a vintage-Les Paul killer, but the Fullerblaster S Custom tested here has its roots in a west coast inspiration—though one that took a road trip back to Kalamazoo to pick up some new duds.
Based on his standard Fullerblaster, a boltneck model with an original body shape, a 25.5" scale length, a Tele-style bridge, and either a P-90 or a humbucker in the neck, the Fullerblaster S Custom has a chambered “thinline” style double-bound mahogany body with a single f-hole in its maple top, a chopped T-style bridge, a pair of Throbak humbuckers, and a four-knob flight deck that coalesce into a sweet Tele-meets-335 look and feel in a custom Olive Drab finish in satin nitro. The neck is gorgeously flamed at the back with a deep soft-V profile that’s extremely comfortable in the hand, with a delectably dark-brown Brazilian rosewood fretboard with 22 frets and a slight extension “lip” over the body. In the hand, this guitar just screams quality—the kind of results that bring genuine luthiery to the bolt-neck platform— and together with a faultless setup results in truly inspiring playability. For my tastes the fret crowns at the ends are left just a tad prominent at the fingerboard edges (not sharp, however), but it’s something that might not jump out so much for a thumb-behind-neck player, and I’m sure a gentler fret-end radius could be requested.
Played unplugged, the Fullerblaster S Custom simply feels like a great Tele, exuding the ring and chime and sustain that the model is known for. Plugged into a custom JTM45/plexi-hybrid amp, it proved a superbly chameleon-like beast that segued smoothly from twang to rock and felt entirely at home at all points in between. The Throbak humbuckers were extremely articulate in all positions, with a trenchant, biting tone, and clear and dynamic enough to dial in single- coil-like tones in the bridge position with the gain tamed via the guitar’s Volume control. As much as I loved doing faux-Tele pickin’ on these settings, though, I really dug winding it up for some greasy, snarly hillbilly rock, then slipping to the neck position for throaty, singing blues.
Ultimately, the Fullerblaster S Custom is a sneaky stealth creation that ably mimics either of its inspirations, while offering endless blends of the two classic templates. Hard to beat, and a great choice if you’re looking for a do-it-all gigging machine, all of which earns it an Editors’ Pick Award.
FULLERBLASTER S CUSTOM
PRICE $5,850 base price (upgrades: Brazilian rosewood fingerboard $550; double-bound body $150; chambered/f-hole $250)
NUT WIDTH 1 11/16", bone
NECK Rock maple
FRETBOARD Brazilian rosewood, 25.5" scale, 9.5-12" compound radius
FRETS 22 6105 (medium)
BODY Premium mahogany, chambered, with a maple top
BRIDGE Glendale chopped T-style
PICKUPS Two Throbak SLE101 MVX humbuckers
CONTROLS Dual independent Volume and Tone controls, 3-way switch
FACTORY STRINGS Ernie Ball, .010-.046
WEIGHT 6.9 lbs
KUDOS A beautifully conceptualized T-meets-335 hybrid: top-notch build quality, great playability and outstanding tone.
CONCERNS Fret crowns are slightly prominent at the fingerboard edges (though extremely well dressed).