If there's one thing that's sure to get everyone on staff @ TME buzzing it's the introduction of a new builder to the TME family. We are really excited to be working with the extraordinarily talented Thomas Rodriguez. Based in Virginia, Thomas has been building guitars, including highly regarded nylon strings, for the last 35 years alongside fellow VA-based contemporaries Lindy Fralin and Bill Callaham.
The Buxton model finds Thomas tackling the rare, and often under-appreciated, late 50s Epiphone Crestwood, in this case, a slab-bodied 1958-1959 Crestwood.
Released alongside the student model single-pickup Coronet in 1958, the Crestwood represents the higher-end of the two solidbody models Gibson introduced under their newly acquired brand. Think of the Coronet like a Les Paul Junior and its bigger brother Crestwood like a Les Paul Special or Standard. Gibson manufactured these first version solidbodies in very low numbers, which has factored into their relative rarity and general lack of familiarity among even the most astute vintage electric aficionados. At their core, they represent a unique take on a timeless recipe that made legends out of the Les Paul, SG, and many more mahogany body Gibson electrics.
Thomas brings brings this early model design back to the forefront, adding a level of build quality that we quite honestly think few can rival. Using a combination of lightweight tonewoods, excellent pickups and hardware, and precision fit and finish, this Crestwood P90 model is without question the best modern version of this guitar we've come across. Playability and feel shine bright here, capturing great vintage sensibility without some of the clunkiness we sometimes run into with older instruments.
Thomas's eye for design is well documented in this model as well- Gibson/Epiphone purists might notice a nod to the old Epiphone "bikini" badge used on many of Epiphone's instruments from the late 1930s through Gibson's first few years of ownership. Instead of using a metal badge, Thomas inlays a beautiful piece of quilted maple into the headstock in the shape of the original badge, with an overlay of the Rodriguez insignia elegantly placed atop it. Sure, it might seem like a minor detail, but Rodriguez doesn't overlook details, big or small, on his builds.
Now for the real good stuff- a gorgeous two-piece curly maple top, one-piece Honduran mahogany, and Mahogany neck combined with a MojoAxe wraparound tailpiece, and a sweet sounding set of Fralin P90 pickups yield some instant classic tones that we love in an old mid 50s LP. The Fralins lean closer to the clearer low/medium output P90 type, working well for clean tones as well as gained up.
We aren't kidding when we say that these are some of the very best electrics we've put in our hands. If you're looking for a fresh addition to your stable that will make your other guitars blush, a Rodriguez will definitely do the trick!