While this Koll Troubadour ST definitely tips its hat to Leo Fender's designs w/bolt-neck construction, long-scale length, Strat-style pickup/control layout, and alder body, in our experience, Saul is not one to simply remake what's already been done a million times. This guitar very much has its own thing going on, and to be sure, it's a very, very cool thing.
Note the lack of fingerboard markers on the beautiful maple neck, killer Olympic White finish (which has a touch of mint green going on), and Tornado headstock. It has such a 50's modern vibe to it that we find really appealing. You can imagine this guitar being offered back in the 50s, right? Doesn't look out of place at all...
But in your hands, it's decidedly more modern, again in a way we find really appealing. The neck feels wonderful - satin finish, slightly wide/flat feel, and the lack of fingerboard markers seems to pull you into less pattern-based playing habits. The fretwork is excellent, yielding a very easy to play guitar.
There's a slight "taut-ness" to this Troubadour, somewhat Tele-like, and no doubt lends to the articulate, snappy personality of the guitar. It sounds awesome played acoustically as much as it does plugged it! Speaking of which, we'd never played these pickups before - TV Jones Starwood - and were really impressed with them. They're slightly hot, have a punchy attack, and cover classic Strat tones with ease. They don't seem to have an overly compressed sound which let's the guitar breathe a little.
The 2-post Gotoh trem is really, really fun it must be added. This definitely contributes to the more modern vibe - you can really go nuts with the bar and it stays perfectly in tune.
Overall, there's something very sleek, fast, and well....badass about this guitar. It's hard to capture a guitar's feel in words, but we absolute love where Saul took this build. It has that Strat elegance and simplicity, but there's something quite a bit more sophisticated going on with it - visually, but also in the way it plays, responds, and sounds. It's a very dynamic, punchy guitar with great sustain.
If you're a Strat purist, this guitar may not be your cup of tea, but if you like the idea of Strat tones coupled with a vintage/modern build, this could be exactly what you've been searching for. We love it, no question. Another home run from Portland's Saul Koll!