New from Metropolitan Guitars of Texas comes the Westport Series, a scaled-down version of their Tanglewood, reviewed last year in these pages. The Tanglewood is, if you recall, Dave Wintz’s homage to the old National Res-o-glas guitars, albeit more playable and prettier.
“The response to the Tanglewood was so great, we felt we had to expand on the concept,” David relates.
The Westport has that same deco vibe, with a smaller body (Les Paul-sized, for you purists), the same cool plastic floating pickguards, potent Rio Grande humbucker pickups, and lush little inlays on the rosewood fretboard. The headstock and tailpiece are, by themselves, miniature works of art, and emphasize what this little guitar is all about – a true marriage of art and function, something that will play its little ass off and at the same time look real good. We tested the Super Custom Acoustic, meaning we got a guitar equipped with not only the pair of Rio Grande humbuckers, but a high-quality transducer built into the gold tune-o-matic bridge, with its own separate set of controls. The output is, in our case, a ring-tip sleeve that splits to the traditional magnetics and the piezo, enabling the user to put his acoustic-type signal into a separate amp (or the PA system), or mix it directly with the regular guitar signal.
Our cosmetics on the Westport were to die for – an exquisite African Fakimba body with a mahogany set neck, deluxe rosewood fretboard with abalone and mother of pearl butterfly inlays running the length of the neck, and all gold plated parts. The finish makes a cherryburst Les Paul look a bit plain – quite showy and perfectly coated with a thin layer of lacquer. Minus any amplification, this guitar looked great, felt great in the hands, and wanted to play…bad (and I mean that in a good way)!
Once we plugged in the Westport, there was no turning down. First through a new Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, then a 1965 Princeton Reverb, and finally through a great old Silvertone combo equipped with four 6L6s and twin 12″ Utahs, this guitar was like a Paul on steroids. Very fat, great sting and brilliance to its tone, and that lovely secret weapon of the acoustic transducer, judiciously mixed into the magnetic signal, lent a sheen most guitars can’t touch.
The controls are simple and a bit on the fun side – on the lower bout are a series of three knobs, old fashioned in appearance, controlling volume for each pickup (the piezo control has an on/off setting to avoid excessive battery drain). Along the upper edge of the guitar are tone pots for each pickup, as well as a traditional three-way switch, giving typical settings of neck, bridge, or neck plus bridge (although the sounds we got were anything but typical)! Way to go, Metropolitan!
“This is one beefy guitar…somebody needs to be playing this onstage!” Taco exclaims. “It makes quite a statement, and plays like a dream.” The levels of this guitar include the Westport Deluxe, which features deco custom colors like Pearl Green, Shell Pink, and four others, and the Custom Acoustic adds a bound fretboard, nickel parts, and the secret weapon – the transduced pickup. Prices on these instruments are $1,695 and $2,795, respectively. Our model, a Super Custom Acoustic, lists at $3,950 due to its superb appointments, and all models are discounted somewhat by the nationwide network of Metropolitan dealers.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Oct. ’97 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.