I turn my attention to the second of four custom built guitars from Connecticut-based RWM Guitars
Cost: $1500.00 from rwmguitars.com!
Overview & Final Score: 8.4
Reviewing these custom builds from RWM Guitars has been real fun considering I have 4 crazy unique, different builds sitting in my office waiting to get played. While the semi-hollow double cut was probably my favorite overall, this take on the Tele-design was a close second. This RWM Guitar features the same Maple neck and Rosewood fretboard common on all of their current builds. 21 frets, Grover Original Locking Rotomatic tuners, and a traditional Tele bridge hold the strings and tuning very stable. Classic Tele-style electronics, volume, tone, and 3-way switch, control two GFS Dream 180 humbucker pickups. The construction gets very interesting after that however. Just like the previous semi-hollow Tele, the top of this guitar comes from an 1889 Estey Pump Organ and sits on top of a 3-piece body that is locally sourced Walnut sandwiched between locally sourced Maple. This provides a stunning look on the back of the guitar that is simple but elegant.
These pickups have bite! High output and high treble really helped this guitar cut through the mix in my opinion. Personally, they are a little too bright for me and I really had to dial the tone down a bit. While the semi-hollow double cut was light and full sounding, with acoustic-like properties, this feels way closer to a Les Paul. That Walnut and Maple in the body gives it some more heft than the Pine guitars from RWM. On the other hand, this guitar gives off some more natural sustain even if it is misses that full, chime of most thinline Tele-style guitars. Clean tones are ultra clear and articulate, but like I said, very bright and snappy. It makes a great guitar for some of those indie and alternative rock lead lines that seem to cut through waves of synths and bass.
Once I layered some distortion on top, this guitar came alive. The pickups already naturally pushed my tube amp, but this really got wonderful crunch tones with just a tube screamer. It also had that broken up, natural distortion feel where the harder you picked the strings or chords, the more violent the guitar sounded. You end up with a Tele that feels way more like a Les Paul, which gives this RWM creation some unique properties and cross over appeal. However, I prefer the more traditional thinline voicing myself.
The fret work on this guitar was great, leading to smooth playing experience up and down the neck of the guitar. The light finish also prevents the Maple neck from ever feeling sticky. The Grover locking tuners didn’t hold up quite as well as some other models I’ve tried, but still got the job done. Much like an actual Les Paul, the G string just didn’t want to stay in tune for me. Otherwise, the tuning stability and reliability felt comfortably above average. With these RWM Guitars, I feel like the neck kind of takes a back seat to the tone woods and interesting pickup configurations. But to RWM’s credit, the action was excellent out of the box and I see no reason why this wouldn’t be a gig ready guitar in a matter of seconds.
Finish & Construction: 9
The reclaimed and locally sourced tone woods win the day again for RWM guitars. The same stunning, vintage wood from an 1889 Estey Organ sits on top of a chambered Maple/Walnut body. As you can see below, the Walnut sits between the Maple, giving the back an awesome aesthetic. The Maple is sourced from New Haven Connecticut, the pizza capitol of America for you uneducated folks out there. The Walnut comes from historic Main Street in Westport, Connecticut which is a rather gorgeous seaside town itself. Historical wood with character and a story is the main selling point here, and something that makes RWM Guitars stick out. Hardware, electronics, and finish all came out wonderfully as well. A thin gloss covers the old wood, letting the natural grain shine, so if that is something you look for in a guitar, look no further.
I’m a little bit torn with going into the value scores for these guitars. The construction, appearance, and feel is very much up to boutique standards, which makes $1500 seem on the cheap side for a non-mass produced, superb guitar. On the other hand, the pickups sound amazing but don’t do a ton to justify the price. I still think it grades out as a well above average value if you, the buyer, are going into it for the right reasons. If you want a guitar with character, unique pickup options, and a historical story to tell, RWM is probably making the cheapest guitars out there for you. Should you go into this expecting some type of master luthier boutique product you may be disappointed by not getting brand name pickups. As a Fender fanboy, I would generally see this is a solid investment for myself to get Les Paul tones in a package that fits my style and preferences. So ultimately, I’m giving it a major thumbs up!
Good for: Les Paul Fans, Indie and Alternative Rock Musicians, Telecaster Fans Tired Of The Same Old Thing, High Output Players