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 Half Nelson model can be thought of as an "Esquire Jr". Astute fans of both Fender and Gibson will certainly notice the mash-up. The most obvious Gibson reference comes via a Mojoaxe compensated wraptail bridge, Fralin P90 (10% over-wound), and TV Yellow finish.
The remaining specs fall squarely under the Fender umbrella - 25 1/2" scale length, 50s style soft V neck carve (.87"-.97"), early style volume and tone control plate, and an early "snakehead" Telecaster style pickguard.
Visually, we absolutely love the way these elements come together in a nod to the past while also creating a more sophisticated take on these two classics. Small details like the offset neck dots and elongated truss rod access channel are beautiful touches that have us envisioning Mr. Gibbons nodding in approval.
So...it looks awesome, the build quality is incredible....how does it play, feel, sound?
In a word? Remarkable.
No lie, this guitar sustains like a 50s Burst - which is to say, freakishly well. Hit a chord or single note and it will ring for what feels like a minute (and we're not trying to be cute, it really does). It feels solid, stout, responsive, alive....we immediately recognized that Thomas is one of the rare builders that simply has "it". Everything you love about vintage guitars and newer boutique instruments rolled into one - folks, that's not easy to do and not every builder has this ability. It's an intangible but it's that extra % of vibe, soul, mojo, whatever you choose to call it, that some guitars have - his work has it, no question.
Tonally this guitar maintains a surprising amount of Tele twang, but with a fatter, musical midrange. It's the kind of guitar that had us laughing out loud at how fun it was to demo, how well it plays, and how amazing it sounds. We're gushing, we know - but trust us, it's really that good.
We count ourselves as very lucky to work with the caliber of builders we represent - the best of the best. We can say, without hesitation, that we're honored to represent Thomas Rodriguez and his incredible work. A master builder whose guitars are not to be missed. Priced with hardshell case.
Played here by our friend, Rich Hinman...