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SonicGuitars Flying V

LeonC

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 30, 2002
Messages
802
After being haunted by the sound of the '58 V in this Songbirds video, I started investigating my alternatives. I didn't really want to spend a fortune as I've not been sure I could hang with the body shape/ergonomics. I tried an Epi Amos and thought it was a perfectly decent guitar. I played great and sounded good. I wasn't crazy about the finish, hardware and the neck shape...it had an area where the back was close to flat spanning a few frets and I can't abide that feel.

I found out about this Italian builder, near Milan, building replicas for very reasonable prices and decided to try him--SonicGuitars (Paolo Salcuni). He makes them from two solid pieces of korina (with a one-piece neck), rosewood fretboard, aged finish/parts and winds his own pickups. The cost was 3300 bucks and a few hundred for shipping/customs. I special ordered a few things--a nylon nut, pickups wound to my resistance spec, a stinger on the back of the headstock, a custom serial number and one pickup wired 4-conductor along with a push-pull tone pot so it could be optionally wired out-of-phase, like some of the early Vs (and the one in the video).

Paolo told me he could build the guitar within 2 months because he had some that were already started. He sent me photos of one he selected for me and off we went. It was done in about 5 weeks, including him letting it "set in" for a week. It took another 8 or 9 days to get to me in So Cal.

So, how did it come out? I was most concerned about the tone and neck shape/feel, fretwork, precision of neck/body joint, heel shape. I didn't care that much about quality of parts because I figured I could upgrade anything I wasn't happy with. The tone is excellent, more on that in a minute. The neck shape is very close to what I think of as a '59 carve. It's round and even everywhere; feels GREAT! Just an RCH over 1 11/16ths at nut. About .89" deep at 1st fret and about .99" at the the 12th. Excellent. The pieces of wood used look great. Very nice grain. The fretboard is perhaps a bit thicker than on a Gibson--about 0.21" compared to about 0.18" on my vintage melody maker. But the neck feels just great; couldn't be happier.

The fretwork is excellent. Absolutely no rough spots, issues with playability, sharp edges. No issues. He did a great job. They're roughly equivalent to what I'd call Gibson jumbo style frets.

The neck body joint is very precise and the heel is quite comfortable. Long neck tenon extends well able the neck pickup, very authentic.

The relic'd finish looks great overall. When you're playing the guitar, it's got a bit of an old feel/vibe to it, though the fretboard doesn't feel "real broken in" per se. I used some rosewood oil on it after I got it and that helped a bit; it looked quite dry. I don't truly know what type of rosewood this is; he calls it "brazilian" but it's lighter (particularly on one side as you get above the 12th fret) than what many of us probably have in our minds when we think of brazilian. That said, it feels good, not excessive pores that you see on some rosewood. The neck feels really solid overall and it's set up with the action at 3/64ths on the high E side and just a hair higher on the low E side.

I've currently got is strung with 0.010s and tuned down a step-and-a-half to C#, like Jack Pearson in the video above. It plays like butter and I can do huge Albert-style bends of a major 3rd or 4th with little effort.

So how does it sound? Man...the thing kills! I had him wind the pickups for about 7.3k and 7.9k and he hit it right on the mark. The picks sound clear and open...they don't sound modern or hot or muddy. The out-of-phase thing works great. It was built with regular CTS pots and I like their sound...but not the taper. The thing is, particularly when playing with the pickups OOP, I want to be able to turn one of them down just a wee bit to take of a wee bit of the quack and add a little more volume (you do get a noticeable volume drop when OOP) so having enough taper to work with makes a difference. The CTS pots...man you only had to look at them cross-eyed to get them to to drop out sharply. Not really workable. Also, he wired it "modern style" and I really prefer 50s style wiring, I think it sounds better when you turn the pickups down this way. So I put in some old Centralabs that I got from a friend and re-wired it 50s style. Man...those to changes made a notable difference.

So here's a quick and dirty clip. I'll do some better ones in the coming days.


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LeonC

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 30, 2002
Messages
802
In openness and candor, I must say the attention to detail is not there in a couple spots. The most notable way is where the nut is installed, the cut on the left side is a bit sloppy. It's excellent on the right side...but a little messed up on the left as you can see. The finish is really very good overall and from more than a couple feet away, you'd not notice anything wrong. But on close inspection of the bottom/insides of the V (the "crotch" if you will), there is what I would call "orange peel" to the finish...it's like it wasn't sanded/buffed out all the way before he did the relicing. You can't really see it in the photos...you have to have it sitting in your lap (or maybe I'm just not a good enough photographer). Also, there are a few little "dots" of the glue used to affix the rubber pad on the surface....oops. Again, doesn't really show up in the photos, you gotta be right up on it, checking carefully.

So...it's definitely not a guitar from our favorite company. No...but then again....you can finish this sentence...

But overall...I'd say I got a tremendous value. Really, in terms of the big picture -- trying to get a modern guitar to produce those old V type tones (and one that plays, feels and looks great)...I don't think I could have done much better.
 

seafood

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 11, 2003
Messages
385
really cool guitar and a great story !!!!!! I love that Jack Pearson low tuned clip too !!!! have fun with your V !!!!
 

thin sissy

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 2, 2006
Messages
2,700
Sweet, korina V's are fantastic, and you did a great demo as well!

Sonicguitars used to do a different neck joint on V's, which actually made me pass on one a few years ago and go with a different builder. But now he seems to have changed the joint, and yours look awesome! Congrats! Sounds awesome too.
 

RAB

Active member
Joined
Mar 17, 2005
Messages
2,122
Paolo built me a 1957 Futura replica. Not only is it very realistic looking it plays and sounds like a dream! I’ve owned numerous Golden Era (1959-64) Gibsons over the decades including 5 original Bursts, 2 PAF Goldtops and this guitar compares favorably in tone and playability! Paolo is also a pleasure to work with, very responsive and communicative. Finally his instruments are a superior value…I’d happily had paid more! I recommend him highly! RAB
 

thin sissy

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Joined
Jan 2, 2006
Messages
2,700
Awesome! Great playing and tone! Almost makes me want to flip a magnet in my korina V. What amp did you use?
 

LeonC

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Joined
Aug 30, 2002
Messages
802
Thanks man. I'm using a Fractal FM9 direct into the camera. I've got their model of a Dumble ODS clean channel. I'm using two IRs, IIRC -- "rumble" IR and one that I rolled myself of one of my favorite open back 1x12 cabs with an Oxford 10k5r in it.
 

LTD400

New member
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Messages
5
Sweet, korina V's are fantastic, and you did a great demo as well!

Sonicguitars used to do a different neck joint on V's, which actually made me pass on one a few years ago and go with a different builder. But now he seems to have changed the joint, and yours look awesome! Congrats! Sounds awesome too.

Are you sure he changed the method of the neck joint?

Can we see a cavity shot of the neck joint?

PS: great looking (and souding) guitar! always when i see one, i get tempted too :D
 

thin sissy

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 2, 2006
Messages
2,700
Are you sure he changed the method of the neck joint?

Can we see a cavity shot of the neck joint?

PS: great looking (and souding) guitar! always when i see one, i get tempted too :D
Well hmm, I don't know anything about it actually :) Just going by what I see in the pics of this thread. The joint used to look like a tele (for lack of a better description), not seamless?
 

LeonC

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 30, 2002
Messages
802
Did my first couple gigs with the guitar last weekend. Passed the acid test! I really enjoyed it. Here are a few shorts.



 
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