NGD - Gordon Smith GS1000

SG standard

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GS1000_009.jpg


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).

GS1000_066.jpg


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.

GS1000_038.jpg


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.

GS1000_085.jpg


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).

GS1000_064.jpg


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.

GS1000_121.jpg


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… :(

GS1000_148.jpg

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).
 
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Sweetums

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Wow, that looks amazing, and the story behind it is great too. Please do update us when you get it back and are able to spend more time with it!
 

Worblehat

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Looks great! Especially the natural satin body with the colored top. My color of choice would have been something like green or blue though :smile:

I am suprised that you can get a custom made guitar like this for such a good price! I hope the remaining issues will be fixed soon and you can enjoy your new guitar. Keep us updated!
 

PermissionToLand

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Killer! Great choice with the satin back, too.

As for the fret edges, it could be something called fret sprout, which happens due to the wood contracting as it goes through changes in climate. The shipping could have caused that as well.
 

SG standard

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Killer! Great choice with the satin back, too.

As for the fret edges, it could be something called fret sprout, which happens due to the wood contracting as it goes through changes in climate. The shipping could have caused that as well.
Thanks - that's a good point, I've heard of fret sprout before, but never had it happen, so I'd forgotten about that. We were in the middle of a heatwave during shipping, so it may have had some severe temperature changes between vans and warehouses!
 

syscokid

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Very nice and congrats... :cheers:

Once again, you have bestowed us with your tasteful reviews and wonderful photo skills.

The body could very well be a single piece. What about looking at the end grain at the bottom of the guitar?
 

SG standard

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Thanks. :) I did have a look around the edge, and couldn't see any sign of a join.

I've received some news from GS now - they've decided that the best solution is going to be a replacement neck and refinishing as required. It seems the crack had opened up enough that a repair would be likely to end up visible, the contraction of the fretboard has also damaged the binding, and they're concerned that the heat may have also damaged the neck, and that it won't be straight once the fretboard has been removed. It's more work than I was expecting, but hopefully the result will be a 'new' guitar, rather than a repaired one. (This also confirms that PermissionToLand was right about fret sprout being the cause of the rough edges).

But I am sad to be losing a neck that was perhaps the most comfortable one I've ever played... I've asked them to check their blanks for a good match!
 

syscokid

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Sounds like GS is taking the proper steps in the name of customer service and pride in their product. More than likely, the new neck will be just as good... :fingersx:
 

SG standard

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Well, the GS1000 arrived back this afternoon... or rather, another one did! I was puzzled why the pickup had a protective plastic film on it, and then noticed the grain on the side looked different. Sure enough, it's a whole new guitar! Can't fault Gordon Smith for their commitment here, and I've got to thank them for prioritising the job and building this one so quickly.

First impressions are, again, very, very good - this one is slightly heavier, and I'm pretty sure this comes down to a mahogany body/neck combination - rather than the previous cedar. But it's still relatively light, and perfectly balanced. Haven't been able to spend much time with it so far - partly because it arrived a few hours before another new guitar, the Reverend Manta Ray in the photo, but that's a whole other NGD thread. Two in one day, that's a new experience for me!

IMG_2822_LR.jpg
 

SG standard

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Quick update: Since the GS1000 arrived in August it's been in pretty much constant use, it's a lovely guitar to play, with a slim neck, light weight and prefect balance. The pickup is not quite as hot as other humbuckers I have, but is very open and clear - with the gain up it's almost strat like. So I've been appreciating the way that it's a bit different to everything else. The fact that I've been enjoying this single pup so much convinced me to get my old Guild back into shape.

The grain on the sides is quite pretty on this one, compared to the first build, both are single piece bodies:

GS1000-Magenta034.jpg

GS1000-Magenta127.jpg


A couple of days ago I fitted a Les Trem II (I'd been in two minds about adding it to the Manta Ray, but I think that really deserves a B3). The Les Trem is incredibly easy to fit, should be completely reversible, and seems to suit the GS rather well. I didn't get around to buying a roller bridge, but instead used the Graph Tech bridge I originally bought for my '14 SG Standard. Tuning seems to be pretty stable, so I might leave it like that.

GS1000-LTII-335.jpg

GS1000-LTII-367.jpg
 


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