AMG Guitars: S Body

TRUMPETED AS THE “WORLD’S BEST GUITARS” on the AMG home page, the instruments made by AMG’s Alex Groeger definitely come from a unique sector of the solidbody universe. To wit, the S Body is a neck-through design— uncommon these days when most manufacturers favor bolt-on or set-neck configurations— that features a series of finger joints running like a zipper down the back of the neck, melding its two pieces of quartersawn flame maple. The guitar also lacks an adjustable trussrod, and the trussrod it does have is square, because Groeger feels a square rod in a square slot will reduce rattle and be more stable than the usual round type.

The fretboard, pickup rings, and pickguard are all made of morado (also known as pau ferro), which resembles rosewood, but feels more like ebony. The arrow-tip headstock blends nicely with the Steinberger-style, flame maple body, and it has “AMG” inlayed in pearl with a morado outline. The rear tremolo-spring cover plate is also flamed maple. A perfectly applied Tung oil finish does little to bring out all the fabulous flame on this instrument, but, on the up side, it doesn’t hamper the tone as much as a thick gloss coat would.

The flat neck radius and high but wellrounded frets beg for fast playing and blues bending, and with a Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro APH-1 in the neck position, a Duncan Distortion TB6 in the bridge, and a WD Floyd Rose-licensed bridge, the S Body is ready to rock. Whether driving an Orange Tiny Terror, or a Fender Champion 600 goosed with a First Act V-Stack Classic pedal, the S Body produced highly articulated distortion. Its 24 frets nudge the neck pickup slightly toward the bridge, which makes for exceptionally lucid chords when using just that pickup, and the maple construction overcomes any potential muddiness from the powerful bridge pickup.

An item that warrants attention is the bathandled mini-toggle pickup selector that has sharp corners and gets in the way when strumming. There’s also some awkwardness when playing the S Body guitar sitting down (I found that placing the butt of the guitar against my leg worked best), as well as a tendency toward neck-heaviness (a small, slim body pretty much dictates a headless neck for proper balance, but using a wide strap does help).

The AMG S Body is a well-constructed and great-sounding guitar with a lot of unique, handcrafted appeal. And while I wouldn’t nominate this particular instrument for a “World’s Best” award, it’s worth noting that Alex Groeger is a custom builder who will take orders based on your specifications. In that light, he might just build the world’s best guitar for you.