Flaxwood Laine

Flaxwood's Kim Lerche First Contacted Me At The Summer 2006 Namm Show about the composite-wood guitars made by his Helinski, Finland-based company. At the time, little was known about these injection-molded machines outside of his native land, even though England’s Guitarist and Total Guitar had published reviews, and a few peer evaluations were posted at harmonycentral. com. Eventually, an “interesting” test scenario developed. Lerche provided me with a Laine (then called the Fairlane), and, due to myriad scheduling and memory glitches, I tested the guitar at various gigs for more than a year before this review finally reached the pages of Guitar Player. So, as Lerche developed a few nervous tics while waiting patiently for coverage, the extended evaluation period allowed me to really get to know this guitar.
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Throughout months of abuse, the Laine proved to be indestructible. I tossed it into my trunk without a case, stored it naked in my un-insulated basement from winter to spring, and totally neglected its care. Yet, as you can see, its kulta (gold) finish still gleams like a Malibu sunrise. In addition, the guitar maintained its tuning integrity after shivering in my basement for weeks without being touched, and it also stayed relatively in tune during hot, sweaty bar gigs, and after enduring aggressive bends and tremolo jacking. From a playability standpoint, the Laine is a balanced instrument with an inviting action and easy access to all controls. I found myself drawn to the Laine simply because it is fun to play, it’s light, and its sleek contours caressed my body whether I was sitting or standing. Some of the visual aspects of the flaxwood material can be taste questionable, however—such as the “appointment” between the third and sixth frets that looks like someone smeared putty on the fretboard.

Sonically, the Laine’s composite construction and three lipsticks give it a zingy, articulate voice that works well with high-gain tones and imparts a stout, crystalline snap to clean timbres. In fact, the Laine almost seems to explode out of your amp—I likened the sound to a jet catapulting across the deck of an aircraft carrier. The effect is present, clear, and ferocious, whether you rock hard with a Marshall or Mesa/Boogie Rectifier, jangle with a Vox, or go all bluesy with a Fender Deluxe. The Laine also delivers in-betweenpickup clucks and a sweet hollow quality, but its tonal variations are somewhat subtle. Wah-like Tone manipulations and trad-jazz tones aren’t possible here, and the Blend knob serves up “seasoning,” rather than completely different flavors. Still, I dug the fact the Laine holds dearly to its own sound, which made it my go-to guitar for aggro parts, massively distorted layers, and edgy rockabilly styles.

The Laine’s price obviously pits it against some fabulous—and more familiar—guitars, so your willingness to spend significant bucks on a composite guitar from the land of saunas and koskenkorva will likely be a major consideration. But if you want to rage out of a band mix, save a few trees, and start your tonal explorations with a sonically unique palette, the Laine is a brilliant option.

Flaxwood, (972) 245-0230; flaxwood.com
PRICE $3,256 retail/ street price N/A
NECK Wood composite, set
FRETBOARD 25.5"-scale wood composite with 12" radius
FRETS 22 medium-jumbo
BODY Wood composite
PICKUPS Three Seymour Duncan SLS-1
CONTROLS Master Volume, Master Tone, Blend (fades in neck pickup), 5-way pickup selector
BRIDGE Schaller LP Tremolo
EXTRAS Tune-X tuning system nut, celluloid “f” inlays
FACTORYSTRINGS D’Addario, .010-.046
WEIGHT 7.02 lbs
KUDOS Plays great. Clear, punchy tones. Virtually indestructible.
CONCERNS Subtle tonal variations.