The Massachusetts-based guitarfetish.com is an instrument/parts importer that carries a complete line of goods, from pickups and vibratos to knobs and pots.
Its guitar line, dubbed “Xaviere,” consists of 11 single-cutaway solidbody guitars (the XV 500/700 line) and three thinline semi-hollowbodies. The solidbodies range in price from $300 to about $1,150, with the primary difference being the finish; at the entry level are opaque finishes with sparkle, while the upper crust gets you a pearl/abalone top. In-between are various sunbursts finishes on quilt- or flame-maple tops.
The XV solids have a distinct Gibson Les Paul/Zemaitis influence in terms of design and aesthetic, while the semi-hollows recall Gibson’s vaunted ES-335, with 11?2″-thick double-cut bodies.
One of the reasons we were motivated to order a Xaviere was the lofty verbage on the website that captured our technically-trained eye. “Each Xaviere guitar is meticulously set up by our pros…”it says, adding how the guitars have, “the kind of tone, sustain, and balls hard to obtain in a $2,000 instrument.”
After reading that, we just had to get our hands on one, and we opted for the entry-level XV 700.
Unwrapping the guitar, we were immediately struck with a couple of cosmetic elements, the first being the very funky metalflake finish. Not your run-of-the-mill metalflake with nearly-microscopic flakes in the finish, the Xaviere’s large copper-colored flakes give the finish remarkable depth. And as advertised, the guitar weighs in at just over seven pounds. The neck has a comfortable slim-taper profile, and the nicely polished/dressed frets make for a bump-free ride up and down the neck. The plastic nut is fitted nicely and cut with proper string radius – an oft-overlooked detail on import guitars, and one that can really affect feel and playability.
The 700 did indeed arrive set up well, with fairly low action and no fret buzz to speak of. The neck was straight and level, and the overall feel was fairly slinky and fast, due to its .010-.046-gauge strings and 241/2″ scale length. The body’s thin profile and set neck allow for excellent access all the way to the 22nd fret. Fit and finish are also good, with only a few minor issues, i.e. a bit of paint bleeding into the binding and the treble pickup ring didn’t sit flush on the body.
The guitar has gold-plated hardware, including the stop tailpiece, tune-o-matic-style bridge, strap buttons, Kluson-style tuners with plastic buttons, football-shaped jackplate, and pickup covers. The only hardware not finished in gold is the stamped aluminum truss rod cover and a stamped-aluminum badge on the headstock, which both tie in with the aluminum reflector caps on the knobs. The dual covered GFS alnico-magnet humbuckers have individual Volume and Tone controls with gold reflector-cap knobs, individual push/pull coil splitters, and a traditional three-way pickup selector toggle, all in a traditional layout.
We plugged the XV-700 into a tube-driven Crate head and Celestion-loaded 4×12″ cabinet. With the overdrive channel’s Gain control set just past halfway, we got a pretty respectable crunchy overdrive with tight low-end response and just enough bark in the midrange to make it interesting. It’s not quite as beefy as, say, a Les Paul or PRS, but it’s solid. The pickups have plenty of midrange definition and never got mushy, unless you really pile on the gain, and even then we experienced no uncontrollable squealing or feedback.
The coil splitters add a lot of versatility to the XV’s clean tone. If the humbuckers seem a bit dark-sounding, especially for your clean tone, you can simply yank one of the push/pull pots to add some single-coil sparkle.
Our experience with the Xaviere XV 700 was very pleasant. The guitar lived up to – and in some cases exceeded – our expectations, and the claims on the company’s website. It’s an instrument packed with features, it plays effortlessly, and is an outstanding value.
Xaviere XV 700 Thinline
Features Mahogany body, carved top, set mahogany neck with bound rosewood fretboard, GFS Alnico-magnet humbuckers, push/pull coil tap on each pickup, gold-plated hardware, bound top, neck, and headstock.
Contact Guitarfetish, 2 Watson Place, Framingham MA 01701; www.guitarfetish.com.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s January 2006 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.