Ted Stevenson moved into limited production in his own right in the early 2000s after building guitars for himself in the late 1990s. His electrics focus more on perfecting and modifying established classic designs than on breaking new ground as such, but there’s a lot to be said for making a fine design that little bit better. Each guitar is built by one luthier from start to finish, with the entire process and final quality check being overseen by Stevenson himself.
In raw terms, the Pop Classic Custom ($2,900 retail/$2,399 street) is a contemporary update on the “Super Strat” theme, but it’s an instrument that a vintage-minded tone freak could seriously dig, too. Standard features include a two-piece alder body in “pointy S” shape, custom wound DiMarzio pickups (the single-coils are hum canceling), wired to a conventional 5-way selector with shared Volume and Tone controls, a bolt on neck with a 252" scale and 22 Dunlop 6100 frets on a Madagascar rosewood board; Sperzel locking tuners, and two-post Wilkinson/Gotoh VG-300 tremolo bridge with a custom-milled, cold-rolled steel block. Features that require closer in-hand examination to discern are the immaculately rounded fret ends and smoothly rolled fingerboard edge, heavily contoured neck heel and a cutaway for improved upper-fret access. Stevenson’s proprietary, patent-pending neck joint uses only two bolts, but also comprises two internal tenons that keep the neck attached even when the bolts are removed, and totally eliminate side-to-side motion in the joint.
The Pop Classic Custom is one sweetly made guitar, and sonically it’s rich and versatile. Its sounds run from fat, throaty border-fried blues tones at the neck pickup to lots of spank and snap at the in-between settings, with easy, singing lead tones from the humbucker. I did briefly miss having a split or semi-split-coil option at the bridge position (a push-pull coil-split function is available as an option), but not for long, as the middle pickup gets darn close to that sound, while issuing some serious twang when you need it. From tip to tail, this is one impressive guitar!
Kudos Very well crafted. Great playability. Excellent sounding and very versatile.
Contact Stevenson Custom Guitars, (514) 639-8041; stevensonguitars.com