Cost: $3,999.00 new from Morifone.com
Huge thanks to Ren, the creator of the Quarzo for lending me this top notch instrument for review!
Overview & Final Score: 9.3
The Morifone Quarzo is one beast of a guitar and has quite a bit to unpack. Handmade in Canada from the finest tone woods, Morifone Guitars is a relatively new company that’s bringing sweeping change to a classic design. The Quarzo is a bit like an offset Les Paul with huge technological updates. The Quarzo comes with a Mahogany body and neck, and can have your choice of a figured or plain Maple top. The long tenon body-neck joint provides a ton of neck stability, as well as increased sustain.
Better yet, this guitar features a new, patent headstock design that looks like upward wings, called the “Aileron”. The reasoning is simple, because the tuning pegs are never in contact with a flat surface, the tuning stability is far improved. This design also boosts playability, as well as natural sustain.
The high quality features don’t end before reaching the electronics too. A traditional 3-way selector switch lets you control the pickups, which you get to choose from the Lollar product catalog. This one came with two vintage-voiced Lollar humbuckers that gave the guitar a real Les Paul flavor. Two dedicated volume CTS pots are matched with just one CTS tone pot, but you do get a coil split function accessible by pushing in the tone pot, much like Fender’s S1 switch.
If all that wasn’t enough, there is also stunning binding, Schaller tuners, a Bell-Brass tune-o-matic bridge, and a Graphtech TUSQ nut. I’m probably missing more amazing features, but everything on this guitar is designed to top of the line!
It’s hard to find much at fault here, as Lollar pickups are some of the best, if not the best, options on the market. Morifone is just another in a long line of truly phenomenal luthiers I know using Lollar’s only. To me, the neck pickup sounds like a clone of a ’59 Les Paul, it’s buttery, creamy, all the adjectives you hear Joe Bonamassa use.
The note to note clarity is superb, even with layers of drive and distortion on top. Especially nice was the coil split sounds, which made the guitar feel far more versatile than I expected. They don’t have the chime or bright highs associated with single coils, but they were far more percussive than the humbuckers, making them great for rhythm tones.
The bridge humbucker was great too, it just didn’t instantly bring back the ’59 Les Paul tones I was told to expect the same way the neck did. The coil split was again lovely though, making it a bit more versatile and modern sounding. The bridge also head great clarity and note definition, but with a ton of bite and output. It quickly pushed my Vox AC15’s tubes pretty hard and sounded great.
Now to be fair, all those features are pretty common on guitars under $4000. But what really sold me was the sustain. The perfect 10/10 rating is highly influenced by this guitar’s ability to just sing. That to me is one of the most inspiring features on a guitar, along with how it sounds unplugged. The Quarzo sounds beautiful when played acoustic, you just get this rich, full sound. When you check those two marks for me, it’s a 10/10.
I think the “Aileron” headstock really lives up their description. Even with heavier strings on, the Quarzo is just comfortable to play and perfectly intonated. Bends truly were easier than on other Les Paul-style guitars I’ve played, and the neck feels really fast to me. In fact, the creator of the Quarzo told me that the guitar I was sent has the least slim neck of them all, and it still felt super fast! The tuning stability was great, I think I’ve tuned it twice in about 4 days of playing it?
The Quarzo is just well built and I really appreciate this update on the Les Paul design. As many know, Les Pauls, and many other Gibson guitars, can have a ton of tuning issues because of the break angle of the strings over the nut. Poorly cut nuts from Gibson’s questionable QA/QC didn’t help either. So for me to feel like I can get that classic feel and tone, in a genuinely modernized and better engineered package, I’m sold.
Finish & Construction: 9
I was also told that the Quarzo I was sent was probably the roughest of the bunch, so I tried to go easy on it for a few, very minor cosmetic flaws. I have no doubt that the new, customer built ones I probably flawless. Sticking to the positives, the gold top finish is well done, and seems fit to last through countless shows. The neck pickup seemed to be screwed in just a little bit wonky, but I’m gonna leave that up to this prototype getting a lot of abuse. Otherwise, this guitar is well constructed with really high quality parts. The control knobs feature excellent sweep, the long tenon construction really makes it feel almost like one-piece instrument. There’s a lot of good stuff here and I’m starting to sound repetitive.
This is probably the closest I will come to saying anything really negative about this guitar in the review. It’s just pretty damn expensive. Yes, you get a really unique guitar with an awesome patent head stock. But realistically, the 8/10 (which is still freakin good) score comes from the fact that if you put an LP style guitar with half the price tag from Eastman, Gibson, or Rock N Roll relics, I’m not sure I would instinctively go for the Quarzo. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t end up buying it, but when you buy from a smaller, boutique company you have to be comfortable paying for the privilege.
Now if you just got this guitar, you will be 100% happy with it, which is why it still gets such a high score. The sounds, feel, and design are really phenomenal and unique in a lot of ways. I’m always going to be biased towards saving a few bucks, but this is certainly one of the few, not vintage $4000 guitars that’s probably worth the price tag.
Good for: Blues, Classic Rock, Any Les Paul Tones
Stay tuned for some demo clips & separate review for Ultimate-Guitar.com coming this week!