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Monday, November 19, 2012

Unger Instrument Co. TD-Custom, ... (Review)

Reviewed By: Jac Harrison
Purchased from: Manufacturer
Street Price: $2,750 USD with case + shipping

Unger Instrument Company is a manufacturer of American hand-built boutique guitars based in Nazareth, Pa. 

This TD-Custom S#019-3232012 features a solid butternut body with a butternut pickguard leading into a hand rubbed clear finish bolt-on mahogany 24.75” scale neck with a 2-way truss rod dressed in a 22-fret ebony fingerboard with mother of pearl dot markers topped with a bone nut wrapped up with a nitrocellulose lacquer white finish.

Gotoh 510 tuning machines and Tone Pros tailpiece & saddle.

Kent Armstrong P-90 bridge and neck pickups with (2) volume, (2) tone and 3-way toggle switch. 


Amp Used:
Fender Blues Jr.  

Selector position Just Neck:
A vintage warm SG/LP without the buzz or hum - almost under-wound. 

Selector position Neck & Bridge:
An even balance between the  neck and bridge, good for that 1960's bright rhythm.  

Selector position Just Bridge:
Very bright and balanced with clear note clarity -- a true vintage SG/LP p-90 lead. 

Action, Fit & Finish:
The action was low without buzz, and the intonation was dead on. The nitrocellulose lacquer finish was perfect. 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.

This was another great find at the Bee 3 vintage guitar show in Philly. One of my pet peeves is the Gibson Guitar company. For many years they produced some of the worlds sexiest guitars using only the finest tone woods and a process called "hand crafted". Today they press a button on a CNC machine -- and their guitars are just mediocre at best.  For those of us that had a chance to play a pre-CNC machined Gibson, we are always looking to capture that tone again. It normally takes years to find a vintage guitar that has the look and feel we want and then we pay out the "a little lower than the lower back but above the knees" to get it. With that said, this is an excellent example of buying a new guitar that has a vintage feel. 

One of the tone woods most luthiers in my opinion do not use as much as they should is butternut, also known as white walnut. This wood is slightly softer than "black walnut" giving the guitar a broken-in /worn sound. It has the smokey sound of alder with the open air of ash. 

So to the review, this guitar was amazing. Being a fan of Kent Armstrong pickups -- the P-90's just hit the ear the way you would want them to. Not over bearing or super bright but slightly dialed back, as if you had played them for 40 years and they lost just a little of their magnetism. Her body was sleek and slim, almost LP Jr.-ish with a fatter bottom. Overall the guitar was a delight and and truly felt like I was playing a 60's era American built guitar -- just with out the 40 something years of bar stink and dirt on her.

What I would change:
I would change two things -- I'm not a fan of the 1/4 inch jack on the pickguard as I am very hard on my guitars on stage and would fear a broken jack from slamming her around, and I would use a Tusq nut by Graph Tech. On the Unger website they say they will build the guitar to your spec so this would not be a problem when ordering for me.  

My advice:
If you are looking for a vintage American built guitar for its tone and characteristics or you have a vintage guitar that you do not want to gig with -- this is the best example of a "new vintage" I have seen to date. 

Unger Instrument Company
14 South Broad Street
Nazareth, Pa 18064
(P) 570 856-1324

Posted 11/2012