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This article was originally published in issue #11
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Handmade in Nagoya, Japan by a former Charvel/Jackson creative team, Metal legend Caparison is under new ownership. Rick Graham tried the stunning-looking Horus M3 model - it was love at first sight.
Founded in1995 by former Charvel/Jackson creative division staff, Caparison rapidly gained attention from lovers of finely crafted, handmade Japanese guitars and the then owners of the brand, Kyowa Shokai Ltd, enjoyed great success, that is until the company came unstuck in mid-2011. Not long after, the brand was taken over by a UK-based partnership and production was able to be resumed under the name Caparison Guitar Co Ltd in the original factory in Nagoya, Japan, whilst retaining all of the original staff involved in the building process, including the well-known and well respected Itaru Kanno as the company's lead designer.
This year (2012) signals a brand new start for the company and with that brand new start have come brand new models and brand new upgrades, of which the subject of our review, the 'Horus M3', is one. The 'Horus' model was originally introduced in 1995 and was developed in collaboration with the Japanese guitarist Chacha Maru and remains one of Caparison's best-selling models to date. The new M3 receives a new body construction which now incorporates composite tone woods that feature a maple centerpiece, which helps to enhance note definition, and mahogany wings that add a rich tone and sustain. Also new for this model are two choices of finish: 'Snow Storm' and 'Black Rose', our review guitar being of the latter type. These are hand-applied sponge finishes and the finishing technique required results in each production model being aesthetically attractive and completely unique.
The neck construction on the Horus is hard maple, with a beautifully finished ivory binding between the neck wood and fingerboard itself which sports 'left hand friendly' jumbo frets. Fret markers come in the form of a very unique and rather quirky looking clock design, which I find is very in-keeping with the overall curious design of the guitar itself. Looking a little closer reveals that the time displayed on each clock indicates the fret number i.e. three o'clock for fret three, five o'clock for fret five etc, which I found to be very cool indeed! The unusual 'Devils Tail' headstock design looks equally unique and the gorgeous ivory binding, matt black finish and the Horus logo emblazoned in gold across the middle of the headstock add a dash of class into the bargain. The Schaller S-FRT II bridge and locking nut come in a cool black finish as do the Gotoh SG381-07 H.A.P. machine heads and single volume control. This is really very high class stuff indeed!
As always with any guitar I manage to get my hands on, one of the important tests for me and one that I invariably perform first, is playing the guitar unamplified. The Horus proved itself to be beautifully resonant with an exceptional clarity. Even when playing high up the fretboard, those notes just seemed to 'pop' out with confidence. Any players out there familiar with the original Horus guitar will know that it is a 27 fret instrument and in addition, comes with standard scale length thus allowing the player total creative freedom without the need for a compromise in technique, which is always useful! Being a humble 22 fret player myself, venturing that high up the fretboard felt a little unusual at first but it didn't take too long to get used to.
Amplified, the tones were superb. The neck position dual rail Caparison SH-27F pickup sounded beautifully smooth, producing some stunning creamy lead tones and the Caparison PH-R in the bridge position just screamed in the way a truly great Rock guitar should do. It is such an easy guitar to play too, thanks to a superb set-up - each one of which is inspected by the lead designer himself.
The Horus M3 is a beautifully made instrument and is most certainly geared toward the more modern day virtuoso player. This fact alone may limit its appeal somewhat and the high price tag may be a little rich for some. However, there is no doubting that this guitar is an instrument of the very highest build and sound quality and the true comparison for a guitar of this class is with handmade instruments from the USA, UK and Europe - not mass-produced guitars. Judged by that standard (and bearing in mind that the price includes a hard case) we actually think it's good value for money as well as being a fabulous and distinctive guitar.