DGN custom guitars paragon standard
Price: $3,000 (base)
For the past few years, luthier Dan Neafsey has been making a name for himself from his small workshop in southern Connecticut, and for good reason. The instruments from DGN Custom Guitars are customized, hand-made, and of very high quality. One of his newest models is the Paragon, a Les-Paul-inspired single-cut that is actually a semi-hollowbody that is miraculously light and boasts several custom variations.
The Paragon Standard has classic features; Honduran mahogany body and neck, figured maple top, Indian rosewood fingerboard, and Kluson vintage-style tuners. Its neck and body are all made from single pieces of wood, not laminated. Neafsey is particular about the components in the Paragon, so it’s dressed with a Graph Tech nut, Switchcraft pickup selector and jack, Mojo CTS 500k pots, Jupiter paper-beeswax .022 capacitors, and a hip aluminum wraparound bridge from ATB. The parade of features doesn’t stop there – the luthier winds his own pickups, here a set of PAF-style humbuckers that are “low-wind” to create better body/resonance mojo (in contrast to high-output winds that emphasize more magnet than wood).
Another cool element is the Paragon’s water-based finish, applied on our tester over a tasty cherry sunburst. From grain filler to clearcoat, it’s all safe and environmentally friendly. The coatings are as thin and durable as traditional nitrocellulose, but have a smoother feel and are less prone to weather-checking. Not only is this water-based finish beautiful, it’s not toxic and, Neafsey says, safer for the luthier who applies the lacquer. Other accouterments include an inlaid, almost-3D mother-of-pearl DGN logo on the headstock, as well as cream binding around the top and fingerboard, again reminiscent of its Gibson archetype.
Before it’s even plugged in, the Paragon grabs attention, thanks to its naturally resonant body. And Neafsey can customize the neck to any dimension or profile the customer prefers, ensuring individualized playability. Our tester was set to his preference – a beefier neck, a la ’50s Gibson, set with low action.
Running through various settings on a tube amp and software modeler, you can feel the vibe of this guitar as it reacts; rock and blues are the obvious go-to style, from Bluesbreakers-era Clapton to modern-hero stuff like Joe Bonamassa.
Sure, the Paragon Standard has all kinds of vintage attributes – and intentionally so. But the attention to detail in its build is amazing. Neafsey’s work here is darn impressive – and he builds everything from acoustics to nine-string electrics and, in his spare time, knocks out a few tube amps and stompboxes!
This article originally appeared in VG August 2011 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.