The mere name of Don Lace’s Cybercaster may set calloused fingertips to head-scratching. After all, “cyber” connotes cutting-edge, futuristic. How could that possibly jibe with “caster,” which implies beloved mid-century designs?
Truth be told, though, cutting-edge and retro go hand in hand on the sleek Cybercaster, which gives off a hint of Selmer on its treble side and a note of SG in the bass-side upper bouts. The entire lower bout is stretched into a distinctive ergonomic form with firmly rounded edges all around. A lightly relic’d nitrocellulose finish completes the effect, suggesting the Cybercaster is actually an early-’60s survivor.
The Cybercaster LS (Limited Series) is produced by Grover Jackson Guitars, Laguna Hills, California. Our Blue Relic tester was built with a two-piece swamp ash body; production models are korina, which the company says will produce a consistently lighter instrument. In addition, production models use a gold-foil logo on the maple headstock, as well as a push/pull potentiometer for splitting the humbucker coils.
The Cybercaster LS has a slab-sawn maple neck and birdseye-maple fingerboard topped with a distinctive headstock shape that’s somehow angular, but with curves. A 25.5″-scale neck includes large, well-dressed frets. Further, the neck and setup have been submitted to the Plek process to ensure a consistent setup.
Hardware is simple, combining Don Lace’s popular Hemi humbucker pickup with time-honored wiring – Volume knob, Tone knob with a simple capacitor, three-way selector switch, and a string-through adjustable bridge, all in chrome.
Hipshot locking tuners are mounted on the headstock, which does not require string trees, and experienced eyes will note the tightly fitted four-bolt neck joint – a crucial detail done right and indicative of the guitar’s build level. Equally distinctive are the design and fit of the chrome electronics plate and triple-layer aged-white pickguard.
The LS Blue Relic nitro finish is a popular ’60s color, lightly distressed, worn, and checked on the body, exhibiting “evidence” of playing time on the fingerboard and neck edges. It’s more than enough to vibe you back five or six decades to a time of classic guitar designs, that place from which the Cybercaster draws inspiration.
The Lace Sensor pickups are known for full-range response and quiet performance, and plugged into a small solidstate amp, they shimmered with an acoustic sound belied only by the lengthy sustain. With the Tone control dialed back, the neck pickup sounded round and fat. Hang a picture of an ES-175 in front of it, and go knock off some jazz gigs!
With effects pedals and a popular small tube combo with a single 12″ speaker, the Hemis and the Cybercaster worked together to achieve a clean, chiming chorus/delay sound. Pushing the gain envelope with a variety of OD boxes really brought out the sonic character of each pedal, as the pickups’ transparency let the pedal color the sound, with plenty of gain to enhance that overdrive. The Tone control, with an ideal, smooth taper, proved a handy tool in tone-shaping, making the most out of the familiar wiring. The addition of push/pull coil tapping on production models should add yet another dimension of possibilities.
The popularity of effects pedals and the need for a quiet, responsive sound should be enough to draw attention to Don Lace’s Cybercaster. The timeless appreciation guitar freaks have for a fine modern build which captures that old-school allure might be enough to make it an instant classic.
This article originally appeared in VG March 2018 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.