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Along with the piano, the guitar is the world's most played instrument because it combines rhythmic and harmonic richness while remaining relatively affordable… and transportable. Whether acoustic, electric or acoustic-electric, the guitar essentially consists of a fretted neck and a body (or resonance table), over which 6 to 12 strings are stretched, that are plucked to produce sound.
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Fantastic Cleans and Gritty Rock (Eastwood Guitars - Classic AC)
The Classic AC has a 24.75-inch scale length, and a chambered mahogany body with a flamed maple top (it comes in natural and green, whereas the model I’m reviewing is natural). The top is natural with white edge binding (and three black pinstripes), whereas the sides and back are transparent cherry. The Classic AC has a mahogany set neck design, a zero fret (set above the other frets to reduce buzz), a 1-5/8” nut, and a rosewood fingerboard with unique Shark’s Teeth inlays. The bridge is an adjustable Tune-O-Matic wrap around, which matches the Gotoh style nickel/chrome hardware. The pickups are two EW-Retro (Eastwood) Humbuckers, controlled by 1 tone and two volume knobs (one for the bridge and one for the neck) and a three-way switch (bridge, bridge + neck, neck). It comes stock with #10-#46 strings, whereas a gig-bag or case is extra.
Sometimes you never know what you’re going to get when you order a guitar. Often guitars are purchased based on looks, or maybe a demo video (although you never know what gear and caliber of gear the guitarist is using… and a highly skilled guitarist can make just about anything sound good). Eastwood’s Classic AC definitely was not a let-down. Although it sounded just fine with different gear, I used The Sheriff V4 preamp in the demo as it has a Plexi-sound (and Malcom Young used a Marshall Plexi). Both the guitar and amp responded well together, and although I didn’t play any AC/DC riffs (for copyright reasons), the tone was unmistakable. On the bridge pickup there as some very well-defined raunchy grain that was very responsive to playing. The neck pickup lacked any mud or boom, which I like, and the notes were well-defined. What really surprised me is when I blended the two pickups, particularly with the bridge volume up high and the neck pickup only high enough to be added in the mix. The result was the same raunchy grain, but with added thickness, heaviness (bottom end) and balls.
The guitar’s action is relatively low and the string bend easily (even on the highest frets, which is not always the case with higher priced guitars). The entire body (and back of neck) has a quality gloss shine without any perceivable flaws. There does not seem to be any flaws in the binding and there are no visible rough edges or cracks around the pickups. There are no rough edges to the frets (all appear to have a slight bevel for smoothness) and the neck binding (with side dots) appears to be well done. The headstock, and its binding, also is of good quality. The one minor flaw is the sharks tooth inlay at fret 17 – when bending the lowest strings you can feel a slight edge of that inlay, although not sharp or uncomfortable.
Reliability & Durability
For a guitar made in China, and a selling price under $600 USD, I would place this guitar with others in its price category. It plays well and sounds excellent – perhaps being a consideration for those wanting a Malcom Young tribute guitar of pretty decent quality or those looking to spend within that price point while looking toward Yamaha or other such budget-minded guitars. The electronics are quiet and the knobs/tone pots have a very solid and smooth feel. Overall, it does not play or sound like a cheap guitar. To the trained eye it may not hold up as well (e.g., binding and inlays) as a custom Les Paul, or the original Young guitar by Gretsch, but I’m very content with its quality and sound based on the price and proves you can get a darn decent guitar made in China (if the standards are in place).
Certainly you can play some good sounding lead on this guitar, since the pickups are hot enough, but for classic Rock rhythm this is one of the best sounding guitars I’ve heard and is so ‘AC/DC’ when plugged into a Plexi-style amp. Although this guitar was inspired by the Gretsch model played by Malcom Young, a vital component to the band’s sound, Eastwood simplified the controls to mimic its Classic 6 model, and definitely headed in the right direction with its Retro Humbuckers for that defined and grainy classic rock response as individual notes ring clearly without mud. The looks of the pickups, natural wood color and headstock design may appear ‘classic’ as well, but the unique Sharks Teeth inlay lends itself to a modern vibe. Somehow it all works. The knobs are easy to control, with knurled edging and the neck pickup’s volume knob sitting on the lower horn (for easy access without bumping into the wrong control, viz., as opposed to having the two volume knobs sitting next to each other). The neck is neither thick nor thin, but a soft C (maybe a D) – enough meat for larger hands, but far from cumbersome for those with small hands.
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