When most people go shopping for a new guitar, they look for one with a nice, straight neck. But maybe we’ve been doing it all wrong…
The California-based Lace company (of Lace Sensor fame) recently introduced three guitar models that sport what it calls a “dual patented headstock system,” which, in non-technical terms, is designed to give the player the speed and feel of lighter-gauge strings, even when strumming heavier sets. This equates to less wear and tear on the wrist, shoulders, and arms, and in theory, beginning players will find it easier to develop technique and speed.
Technically speaking, the guitar’s maple neck and fretboard are cut with a 10.8-degree spiral profile from the nut though the heel. Lace’s dual-action single truss rod helps keep the fretboard flat in relation to the body of the guitar, and a four-degree tilt on the headstock maintains string tension without the use of a string tree.
Our California Twister tester model sported a classic body style with a light, double-cutaway, two-piece basswood body topped with a three-tone “Vintage Burst” poly finish (it’s also available in cream and black).
Hardware and electronics include Gotoh tuners, billet aluminum neckplate/truss rod cover, two-point Fender-style tremolo, tortoise pickguard with black plastic parts, a master volume, two tone controls, and Lace Sensor Holy Grail pickups.
At first try, the Twister might not feel all that different. But if you simultaneously grab a traditional-style guitar (like our ’57 reissue Fender Strat), you’ll immediately notice that you don’t have to reach as far to hit notes in the first six frets or so.
We played the Twister both sitting and standing, with the same results – a more comfortable feel, with less fatigue. The C-shaped neck profile and large frets, along with good action and setup make it easy to bend, with no choking out. The neck’s “twist” means the action is a little higher than normal for a (modified) 12″ radius fingerboard, but it has little or no effect on playability.
We checked the tone of our Twister by plugging it into a ’70s Fender Twin Reverb and a Marshall JCM 900 half-stack. The guitar’s Holy Grail Plus pickups, which use Alnico 5 magnets along with Lace Sensor technology, offer tonal characteristics similar to those in a ’54 Strat, though through the Twin they’re a bit a darker, with less of the sparkle Strat purists like to hear. Still, the guitar maintained the clean, punchy mids and snappy high-end Stratheads love.
Also very notable is the well-balanced sound and good note separation in all five pickup selector positions. Through the Marshall, the three pickups offered more humbucker-like sound, especially at the neck.
With the JCM 900 turned up, the guitar had plenty of gain with nice, even mids and tight low end – and no noise! In the bridge, middle, and the out-of-phase positions, the sound was more reminiscent of a single-coil, but still had the round humbucker mids.
If you’re looking for a guitar that tests the norm by taking a different, uh… angle, check out what the Lace company is doing. We found the California Twister to be a very likeable instrument because of its innovative neck design, comfortable feel, balanced tone, and realistic price.
Lace California Twister
Type of Guitar: Solidbody electric.
Features: Innovative multi-radius rock maple neck with medium frets, two-piece alder body Lace Sensor Holy Grail Plus pickups, tortise pickguard, billet aluminum neckplate and truss rod cover, high quality construc-tion, polyurethane finish.
Contact: Lace Music Products, 5561 Engineer Drive, Huntington Beach, CA 92649, phone (714) 898-2776, www.agi-lace. com.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Nov. ’02 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.