Aside from being a great guitarist in his own right, Jeff Senn has long been a go-to repairman and custom guitar builder for the cream of Nashville’s pickers. Although he’s known for building excellent classic S- and T-style models, Senn was, until recently, more likely to be seen playing a Teisco or some other “pawnshop prize” guitar with his surf band, Crazy Aces.
A few years ago, he started building and playing a guitar of his own design, the Model One. It recalled some of the inexpensive guitars he loved, like Silvertones and Fender Jazzmasters (yes, children, Jazzmasters were once cheap), and he soon struck a deal with Eastwood Guitars to mass produce the Model One. The success of their partnership, and a desire to produce an instrument with more universal appeal, led him to design the second Senn by Eastwood model, a Tele-style instrument called the Model T.
It’s often said that Leo Fender got it right the first time with his Telecaster. Elegant in its simplicity, yet extremely versatile, this particular two-pickup design with three sonic options has proved an excellent instrument for jazz, country, rock, pop and just about any other genre that calls for electric guitar.
In designing the Model T, Senn has maintained some of the essential electronic configuration of the Telecaster, placing a covered single-coil pickup in the neck position and a bridge-mounted single-coil in the back. He’s veered off from the vintage concept by replacing the standard blade-type selector with a three-way rotary switch, a move that has both pros and cons. On the negative side, the switch is placed below the master volume and tone controls, which means your picking hand has to travel further to choose the pickup setting. On the plus side, its position places the volume knob closer at hand for volume swells. What’s more, you’ll no longer have to worry about knocking off a switch tip (something I’ve done many times with a standard three-way blade switch), and the rotary-style selector looks cool as hell.
The Model T’s body and headstock shape manage to simultaneously recall mail-order instruments of the past, while they impart a futuristic look. On a more practical note, the body’s curvature allows unlimited access to the upper frets. The instrument balanced beautifully whether I was standing or sitting, and the medium C-shaped neck was comfortable to play.
Full disclosure: The review model I received was a prototype. The specs provided here are correct for the eventual production model, but it will have different body wood and pickups than the tested model. For the record, however, the prototype sounded great, and in my experience, even two guitars with the same woods and pickups can sound remarkably different.
In general, the mass-produced Eastwood guitars I have played and reviewed were well made and sounded great. I can confidently say that if you are a fan of this classic solidbody and interested in a unique-looking version of it, by all means have a look at the Model T.
PRICE $699 street
NUT WIDTH 1 5/8"
FRETBOARD Blackwood, 25.5" scale
FRETS 21 medium jumbo
TUNERS Kluson style
BRIDGE Traditional three saddle Telecaster type
PICKUPS Eastwood-Nashville Series T style
CONTROLS Volume, tone and a 3-way rotary-style pickup selector
FACTORY STRINGS .010–.046
WEIGHT 7 lbs
KUDOS Cool retro-future design with classic tones
CONCERNS Switching can take getting used to