Michael Tuttle Hollow Custom Gold Top

Michael Tuttle’s background includes stints with Valley Arts and Don Grosh Guitars, where, among other things, he gained a reputation for his fretwork. That’s easy to understand when handling the Hollow Custom Gold Top ($3,730, direct with case), a guitar that’s so easy and inviting to play that I had a very difficult time putting it down. The 24 3/4"-scale Hollow is actually a chambered instrument with a mahogany body and a maple top. The headstock facing shares the same deep gold color as the bound top, and coatings of nitro-cellulose lacquer bring out the gorgeous grain in the body and medium-large mahogany neck. The guitar’s 12" radius Brazilian rosewood fretboard is graced with mother of pearl inlays and Jescar stainless-steel frets. Locking Gotoh tuners, a Tone Pros bridge, and a 15 5/8" bone nut complete the package.
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Although the Hollow’s body shape is reminiscent of a Tele, that’s pretty much where the resemblance stops. Rather than employing single-coils with the bridge pickup angled down on the treble side, the Hollow sports a parallel-mounted pair of P-90-sized TV Jones Power’Tron humbuckers, giving it a bright yet rich and full-bodied sound that’s closer to the Gretsch side of Twang Town (with perhaps a touch of late-model Tele Thinline). And while the Volume control is similarly placed within easy pinky reach, the pickup selector lies directly below the bridge pickup, making it vulnerable to inadvertent changes when engaging in, say, wild funk flailing. The overall workmanship is immaculate, except for two small finish cracks on the rear of the headstock next to the tuners, probably due to climate changes.

The Hollow weighs in at a hair less than seven pounds, a good of bit of which is due to the relatively chunky neck. Tuttle was intrigued by guitars with lighter bodies and beefier necks—such as many Gibson Les Paul Juniors and Specials—and intentionally worked that concept into the design. Nonetheless, the Hollow is nicely balanced and hangs evenly on the strap.

This guitar sounded great through a variety of amplifiers. The bridge pickup delivers crisp, sparklingly clear highs with just the right amount of midrange squawk when you dig in, and the neck pickup exudes a seductive blend of smooth warmth and midrange edginess. And the two are perfectly balanced sonically and volume-wise, yielding a sweet, full-range sound when combined. The unusually versatile Tone control, which gradually tapers off the highs in the first two thirds of its range before quickly going dark at the end, contributes even more tonal versatility.

The handcrafted Hollow Custom Gold Top doesn’t come cheap, but if you’re looking for a lightweight guitar that plays like butter and has a wonderful yet somewhat different sound, you’ll definitely get what you pay for.

Kudos Immaculate workmanship. Lively, well-balanced sound. Fantastically fun to play.

Concerns Small finish cracks by tuners.

Contact Michael Tuttle; (661) 904-5040, bestfrets.com