Rahbek: Surf

Located In Copenhagen, Denmark, Rahbek Offers Numerous options for the custom guitars and basses it makes. For example, the Surf model on review here features a strikingly figured black korina body with dropped top, and an equally figured korina neck that attaches to the contoured heel with four recessed bolts. The medium-thick “C” shaped neck wears a light satin finish, and it feels great in your hand with its polished frets and low, buzz-free action. The only drag concerns the very detectable fret ends, which may be due to wood shrinkage caused by our dry California climate. The combination of high-grade woods and an extremely stable bridge give the Surf an enhanced sense of resonance and sustain that is immediately noticeable when you play it acoustically. This guitar intonates well too, which, besides making chords sound together and tuneful, helps it to speak with excellent clarity and articulation.

The Surf has a trick control scheme that adds a THD-made, 6-position rotary voicing switch to its complement of Volume and Tone knobs. If this function didn’t exist, the Surf would still be a great guitar thanks to its cool variety of fat, bright P-90-style tones. But the 6-way allows you to tailor the mids to suit your amp, your sonic needs, and even your mood. If the tones are too cutting, instead of automatically reaching for the Tone knob or pickup selector, just roll the 6-way back a couple of notches and hear mids thicken up and the bite get a little softer. The sixth position is bypass, so you can have the circuit completely out of the signal path if that’s what you prefer. All said, though, the THD circuit makes it easy to optimize the Surf for everything from shimmering rhythm sounds and snappy country lead tones to buttery overdrive textures and even dark, faux-archtop sounds. It’s truly the Surf’s secret weapon, and it makes this already happening guitar all the more, well, happening.

Rahbek Guitars (206) 388-9004; rahbekguitars.com
PRICE $1,649 retail/ $1,149 street
NECK Black korina, bolt-on
FRETBOARD 24e"-scale,Macassar ebony
FRETS 22 Dunlop stainlesssteel medium 6105
BODY Black korina
PICKUPS Lindy Fralin custom wound P-90-style
CONTROLS Volume and Tone, 3- way pickup selector, THD Quintet 6-position voicing function (sixth position is bypass)
BRIDGE Tone Pros Wrap-around
TUNERS Gotoh die-cast, custom staggered
FACTORYSTRINGS D’Addario, .010-.046
WEIGHT 6.8 lbs
KUDOS Excellent playability. Broad spectrum of tones. Hip THD-made, 6-way voicing switch.
CONCERNS Prickly fret ends.