After a long wait my built-to-order Gordon Smith GS1000 finally arrived. At times I did wonder if I’d done the right thing – it was quite a gamble, and cost about the same as a Gibson SG Junior, so not a trivial amount to me… But the gamble has paid off – although it’s not all good news. First the biggest issue: The guitar was damaged in transit to me, with a crack opening up in the ebony fretboard. It was initially delivered to the shop I’d ordered it from (in a different city to me), they’re a long established large music store, the kind of place you can browse the racks of sheet music or the selection of grand pianos. They checked it out on arrival, and photographed it, with no sign of any cracks, although I guess there could’ve been a hairline crack already. So it now has to go back to GS to be sorted out, AFAIK, repairing cracks in ebony is not difficult. The only other issues are some rough edges to the frets, a little disappointing on a handmade instrument, and they’ve missed off the locking tuners I specified (which will get sorted out too). But the rest is all good news. It’s slightly lighter than my SGs, balances beautifully, and has a wonderful feeling neck - I specified thin, and it’s perhaps a touch slimmer than my Gibson slim tapers – but also seems to be slightly flatter on the profile; overall, I find it really comfortable. It also has a satin finish, which I love on necks. The body back & sides are also natural satin, but the top and headstock face are gloss. And they’ve absolutely nailed it with the colour. The store had produced some special order GS1 models in colours from old British cars, so I chose ‘Triumph Magenta’, a colour I used to have on a TR6 many years ago, and it’s become one of my favourite colours, and a rare colour to find on a guitar. Gordon Smith had a reputation for basic, workman-like guitars, going right back to their early days in the 70s, and their popularity with punk guitarists. I always picture them in natural/stain finishes with multi-piece bodies, so I was surprised to see this one looks like a single piece, as far as I can tell - not that I think it makes the slightest difference - I just wasn't expecting it. It certainly still has that feel of a simple working guitar, but the thicker body, binding, side jack and coil splitting all make it slightly more upmarket. And Auden do seem to have raised the production standards since taking over (with the exception of those fret edges). The non-standard items I specified were: Ebony fretboard, locking tuners, custom colour and custom pick guard (a design the store came up with for their special orders, and the main reason I ordered through them. I think it really suits the GS shape much better than the usual style). Mostly I’ve played it back-to-back with the guitar that inspired me to order it, my single pickup Guild; but that’s not a very fair comparison, as the Guild really needs a refret – it’ll have spend 40 years with me this year. I’ve also played it back-to-back with my ’14 SG Standard, and the GS pickup stands up very well against the Classic ’57 (it’s much closer to this than the Invader I put in the Guild). The GS1000 certainly has performed well next to those two, but I need to spend more time with it, to really assess what it’s capable of – unfortunately that’ll have to wait until it’s been sorted out… Colour looks cool alongside the gold top SG. :) It does feel good to have supported a small British manufacturer, and also a ‘real’ music store, but it also feels kinda cool to have a guitar that only exists because you ordered it – a one off, and for the price of a mass-produced Gibson too. Obviously, not quite the same thing as making one yourself… It’s a hard to put it into words exactly. But I’m really glad I went ahead and ordered this, and I’ve no regrets about selling my American Strat to pay for it, (though I'm already missing the GS, and I only boxed it up a couple of hours ago).