12/22/2016

2013 The Loar LH-350-VS Acoustic/Electric Achtop Guitar





Instruments bearing "The Loar" branding that have passed through the shop have all been really, really good for the money they cost their owners. They often have small flaws in the finish -- but who cares? To a player something like that is insignificant, for the most part. This one is 3 years old per its serial number and looks the business, to me.

This is owned by a good customer of mine and he sent it here for a good setup (which it got -- including a bit of modification to the saddle/bridge topper) and a pickup swap-out. The original Kent Armstrong unit (same size/shape but chrome-plated) was good enough but the owner had an old Gibson Johnny Smith unit to pop on it. That changed the electric sound into a delightful, smooth, clear jazz output as opposed to the more modern, crunchier, punchier sound of the factory unit (which could still sound 100% great for jazz licks -- just without as much mwah).


These have solid, carved spruce tops and a Gibson-shaped 16" wide body. The cutaway recalls L-4 electrics or, for that matter, ES-175s while the construction chases the 1930s Gibson acoustic archtop vibe.

The result is a guitar that has plenty of drive, cut, punch, and power acoustically (like a drier/zingier version of a 30s Gibson) mixed with the sweet, sing-song jazzy voice of a floating-pickup Gibson electric.

That's not to say that these would replace an actual Gibson (electric or acoustic), but they're in the ballpark. The feel is similar, too, with the same 24 3/4" scale length -- but the neck profile is more modern and the radius feels flatter to me. 


The tuners are good-quality openback Grovers, the truss works well, the nut is bone, and the headstock inlay looks great.



My biggest gripe, hardware-wise is with the sticky-foam-mounted pickguard. It has a bracket like a normal guard at the waist but I wish the top section of it was mounted with a screw instead of a bit of sticky-foam (which tends to fall off after time).


The bridge topper had to be recut a little bit to allow for more travel on the adjusters, but it was otherwise good-to-go.


I had a Gibson-style knob hanging around so I replaced the original Mustang Bass-style black knob with this one to accentuate the "new" gold-plated pickup swap.






The 18:1 tuners are "good stuff."






Here's the original Kent Armstrong, Fender-style knob, and the remains of the Johnny Smith wire.

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