Linc Luthier Impression

Sculpture With Strings
Sculpture With Strings

Sure, it’s great to pick up a vintage Strat or Les Paul and marvel at its aged patina. It’s also a wonderful feeling to pick up a customized, totally handcrafted guitar. And I can’t think of many custom guitars that are as hip and original as the Linc Luthier Impression – it’s a singular playing experience.

Who exactly is Linc Luthier? Linc is a guitar builder in Southern California who makes electric guitars, basses, and baritones, each with the distinctive Linc body shape and headstock (he also makes modern-looking upright basses and violins). Frankly, with a body this original, either you’re going to love it or you’re not – a ’52 Telecaster, this ain’t. The sweep of its enormous horns reminds me of an ancient Greek lyre or a similar harp-link instrument, while others may see an upside-down B.C. Rich Mockingbird. Personally, I find the shape very alluring. If I was playing a gig and wanted to be noticed by everyone in the joint, I’d bring the Impression. It’s a showstopper.

Like many Linc Luthier guitars, the body on our review instrument has a chambered body composed of exotic hardwoods – just check out those unique f-holes. The chambered construction also makes for a deep body – about 2″ from back to front. The top and back are made of dark, bookmatched Zirocote wood with walnut-colored Prima Vera sides. The headstock and neck is a sandwich of Zirocote and flame-maple pieces, with the maple continuing through the body to the endpin, allowing for a totally smooth heel for upper-fret playing. The neck scale is 2511/32″ and the radius is “completely flat,” according to the builder.

The fret dots are made of black mother-of-pearl and the side markers are thin, inlaid maple strips. The nut is pink ivory – the rarest wood in the world, according to Linc’s literature – and the circular crown on the headstock is a sandwiched section of Paua shell, Koa, and flame maple. It’s clear that Linc spares no expense when it comes to materials. (Heck, if I had the space I’d also tell you about the plush, handmade case that comes with each Linc Luthier instrument. Trust me – it’s sweet.)

Pick up the Impression, and again that word comes to mind: “distinctive.” Grab the neck and note the ergonomic, offset-V profile that sits comfortably in the palm. The smooth heel and 24 frets invite you to play fast and precise all over the neck. Although you can play any style of music on it, the Impression would definitely be at home with sophisticated progressive and fusion players, la Eric Johnson or John Petrucci, or even modern jazzers like Pat Martino or John McLaughlin. Save your soulful blues licks for your Fender; this guitar begs for your tastiest, most daring runs and harmonic concepts.

For electronics, there’s a Lace Holy Grail single-coil pickup in the neck slot and a Hemi Humbucker in the bridge; both are direct-mounted for maximum resonance. True to form, Linc added burled Carpathian Elm caps to each pickup, making them look like they are growing right out of the top (another Linc Luthier hallmark – his guitars don’t have any visible plastic components). The Impression series also includes a passive piezo system. Why passive, you ask? On his web site, Linc answers this with the rhetorical question, “Would you put a transistor radio in a Faberge egg?”

‘Nuf said.

The guitar’s central bracing system purportedly transfers more of the tonewood’s resonance to the pickups; in fact, Linc spends a lot of time matching tonewoods. And it shows. The Linc rocks on all cylinders when put into a good amp system. The guitar comes with a splitter box; you plug the guitar cable into that and then one each to a regular guitar amp and acoustic amp (or mixer). You can manage the same thing with a Y cable plugged into separate amps. That way, you can have the magnetic and piezo pickups either blended or use them separately.

The knob configuration takes a little getting used to. The first knob is the master volume; the second scrolls between the two pickups, allowing for either one on full blast or any blend of pickups in between. Again, this is passive, so it just gently flows between each pickup – it’s a wonder that more manufacturers don’t include this feature, since it’s so intuitive. The third knob, meanwhile, serves a variety of functions. On one hand, it’s the piezo volume control, but pull it up, and it engages a stereo circuit.

As for sounds, the magnetics on the Impression sound great. On the neck, the single-coil gives a really punchy tone with just the right amount of quack for Strat-y interest, while the bridge ‘bucker rocks for solos and riffs. I dialed in everything from metal riffs to funk to jazz and it all responded nicely. The piezo system works well, too. With this kind of setup, I prefer to blend in a little piezo to the magnetic side to add a little brightness – you can get all sorts of nice blends between the two. Solo, the piezo is wonderful for arpeggiated acoustic parts. Again, to get its full value, plug the piezo side into a real acoustic amp or a PA with hi-frequency speakers. You won’t be disappointed.

All told, the Impression obviously left quite an impression on me. As for debits, I’d note that the bottom corner of the pink-ivory nut is pretty sharp and can jab your pointer finger if you landed on a first-fret note quickly. Also, when you pull on the stereo-pull knob, you get a substantial volume increase, which can be disconcerting. But really, this is all like looking at the Mona Lisa and saying you don’t like her eyebrows. It’s very minor stuff on an otherwise masterful creation.

Again, I don’t think the Impression is for everyone, but for guitarists seeking a special, once-in-a-lifetime axe, this Linc Luthier should be a serious consideration. And the price isn’t bad either; there are lots of factory-made Historic or Signature Les Pauls that go for just as much and don’t have nearly the same amount of custom work and exotic detail.

So go check out an Impression for yourself. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find the missing musical, um… Linc you’ve been searching for. Speaking for myself, this is one of the coolest guitars I’ve ever played, period.

Linc Luthier Impression
Features Chambered, bookmatched Zirocote wood/Prima Vera body, neck-through design with Zirocote/Paua/flame-maple neck. Lace Holy Grail and Hemi Humbucker pickups with Carpathian elm caps, passive piezo bridge.
Price $3,850.
Contact Linc Luthier Instruments, 1318 North Monte Vista Ave., Suite 11, Upland, California, 91786, phone (909) 931-0642,

This article originally appeared in VG‘s Nov. ’04 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.