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This article was originally published in issue #69
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Supremely solid feel and tones.
Customisable to your own spec.
Minimalist headstock won't work with "hanger" style stands.
Swamp Ash Body
Light Flamed Maple Neck
Custom Wound Bulldog' Black Label' Pickups
Nick Jennison reviews the extremely unique Stormshadow Blackfang from Stormshadow Guitarworks, a small UK Custom Shop, based in Sheffield, England since 2007.
Take a walk around any guitar trade show and you're likely to find any number of hidden treasures. Up and down the country, there are small operations making everything from pickups to pedals, boutique amps to custom guitars. Stormshadow Guitarworks are just such an operation. Based in Sheffield, they build high-end, made-to-order rock machines with just about any spec and finish you can imagine.
Their Blackfang line of guitars is sleek and aggressive instruments that sit very firmly in the "rock/metal" camp. Available in 6 or 7 string configurations and with a number of control/pickup options, this review will focus on the prototype model we took a look at.
Comprised of a wax finished swamp ash body, a bolt-on 24 fret maple and rosewood neck and a 25.5" scale length, the BlackFang is a classic recipe, but it sports a number of upgrades that set it apart from the crowd. A Schaller Hannes bridge and Sperzel locking tuners make for impeccable tuning stability and an overwhelming feeling of "solidity" that extends to the guitar's tone. Even unplugged, it's remarkably loud and resonant - no doubt a combination of premium woods, a very thin finish and and the huge chunk of metal attaching the strings to the body!
Plugging the Blackfang in, the tone is tight, snappy and authoritative. The pair of Bulldog "Stormshadow-spec" Black Label humbuckers have to be heard to be believed: they're clear, detailed and full of raunchy character, with a very convincing coil split that's ideal for chimey metal cleans, wiry blues rock and percussive funk chops. Even with comical levels of distortion, they retain their character and definition, and note separation is excellent.
The neck is a slim "c" profile with a very comfy satin finish, adorned with 24 Evo Gold jumbo frets. The Evo material is harder than traditional nickel steel frets, but not as tough a stainless steel - a perfect compromise between the two. The result is a very slick, fast playing guitar that communicates your playing flawlessly.
The Stormshadow Blackfang is a very comfortable, great-sounding rock machine with a cool "no-nonsense" aesthetic. If you're in the market for a high performance, hand made instrument, this guitar should be right up your street.