That little overachieving country in the Scandinavian north has given us some true cultural icons over the decades: Yngwie, Abba, IKEA, Hagstrom, the Swedish Chef, and now...a ridiculously good modern hand-built guitar designed in the style of the classics. Danny Gill reviews the Sonnemo Customshop ST.
Let’s cut right to the chase: Mattias Sonnemo has created a fantastic hand-built instrument that is one of the best guitars I have played! Comparable to a high-end Fender Custom Shop Strat or perhaps a fine Suhr instrument, these guitars pay homage to the classics but have a touch all their own. The particular guitar I am playing in this review has a ‘heavy relic’ finish down to the rust on the screws. Not to everyone’s taste, but personally, I love the look and feel of a battle-worn instrument.
As these guitars are handmade, Sonnemo can build anything you want, from a beautiful flame maple translucent finish to the heavily reliced instrument you see here with me. I prefer the feel of natural wood on the back of a neck which is what this guitar has; much in the style of the old Van Halen Charvel necks, but these feature stainless steel frets and have the neck joint slimmed down for easy access to the 22nd fret. Different neck sizes are also available if you prefer something other than the standard C shape.
Sonnemo even makes his own pickups. This particular guitar features 2 Stevie Ray Vaughan style single coils along with a Michael Landau style humbucker in the bridge. Lots of clarity from the single coils and great midrange honk from the Landau humbucker which blends nicely with the alder wood on the body.
Focusing mainly on Strat and Tele style instruments, Sonnemo also has a Tele style ‘Twangcaster’ which features three single-coil pickups.
It’s hard to put into words how an instrument feels in your hands, but I must say these guitars have what I am looking for: high-quality parts, lightweight, cool vintage design, modern specs, great tone and most of all, the mojo!
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