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Friday, November 16, 2012

HiStrung Octave Junior Guitar, ... (Review)

Reviewed By: Jac Harrison
Purchased from: Manufacturer
Street Price: $2,100 USD with case + shipping

HiStrung is the American manufacturer of hand-crafted octave guitars by master luthier Frank Pine.

This Octave Junior features a solid one-piece Honduran mahogany body with a tortoise style single-ply pickguard leading to a one-piece Honduran mahogany neck dressed with a 22 fret rosewood fingerboard at a 15.5” fret scale length featuring cellulose nitrate dot fingerboard inlays ending with a bone nut and a nitrocellulose lacquer finish with overall dimensions of 28” L X 10.5” W (at lower bout)

Kluson Deluxe 3-in-a-line tuners, Pigtail lightweight aluminum wraparound tailpiece.

One Single Lindy-Fralin P-90 pickup in the bridge position with (1) tone (1) volume knob controlling audio taper pots with paper-in-oil .022 capacitors.


Amp Used:
Bogner Alchemist 2 x 12 


Single Pickup:
A bright full round tone you would expect from a vintage p-90 without the 60 cycle hum. Very clean and crisp with excellent note clarity. 

Action, Fit & Finish:
The action was low without buzz, and the intonation was dead on. The nitrocellulose lacquer finish was beautiful. The guitar felt like it was built with care and attention to detail.

Reliability & Durability: 
The guitar is well built. There was no pick-up hum or crackles from the electronics--all knobs and hardware installed snug and proper.

My first impression was the wrong impression. As I was visiting the 'My Les Paul" forum booth at the Bee 3 Vintage guitar show on November 10th, I noticed the HiStrung guitar and my first thought was that it was meant for a child, as my son will be five years old this year and has guitars that resemble this. After speaking with Frank Pine, the luthier behind HiStrung, I was quick to learn that this was not a toy for a child but an octave guitar for big people. What Frank has done is taken the familiar design of a LP Jr. and shrunk it down using the same precision and attention to detail with only the highest quality of parts as he would if he was making a traditionally sized guitar.  So now that I knew that this was not a toy for a child but a toy for me, I wanted to know in what application I could use it. Basically, this guitar is tuned to EADGBE, just a full octave higher giving it a 6 string ukulele/mandolin on steroids  feel. 

Now that I understood the concept behind the guitar I needed to try it. Frank and I wondered over to the Local Music Gear Magazine booth and I plugged her into the Bonger. It took a few minutes to get used to, but within no time my fingers were dancing on her fingerboard all the way up to the 22nd fret. This was a blast to play and I didn't want to give her back. I have used a ukulele in the studio before to get that "I want to hug the world and save stuff" feel in a song, but this was much cooler. Everything you can do with a traditional sized guitar you can do with the HiStrung including overdrive and effects that would make a ukulele or mandolin sound like crap. 

What I would change:
I would add a Graph Tech piezeo bridge to get that ukulele/mandolin acoustic sound if needed.

My advice:
If you are a ukulele/ mandolin player or you just want an instrument that will give you a little something different, you should play a HiStrung.

HiStrung Guitars, LLC

Posted 11/2012