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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Blues Legend Tino Gonzales’s Personal Chili Custom Guitar,...(Review)

Reviewed By: Jac Harrison
Purchased from: Manufacturer
Street Price: $4,700 USD with case + shipping 

Chili Custom Guitars is a manufacturer of handcrafted, custom boutique, electric guitars by master luither Horst Weinelt, in Austria. 

This is blues legend Tino Gonzales’s personal guitar. She has a one piece solid American walnut body with a big leaf maple top that flows into a low profile ‘D’ shaped European maple neck with a snakewood fretboard featuring chili pepper inlays and flamed maple binding topped with a bone nut.  

Axetec England locking machine heads, (4) Axetec England rubber grip gold tone knobs, Axetec England roller bridge and tailpice. 

Axetec Iron Gear "Hot Slag" neck pickup, Axetec Iron Gear "Dirty Torque" bridge pickup, 500 ohm linear pots, orange drop capacitors, Axetec England 3-way toggle.  


Amp used: 
Bogner Alchemist 2 x12
Vox AC 30 
Fender Blues JR  

Cables used: 

Selector position 1: Just Neck
Warm and full --very American vintage PAF that has been rounded out by many years of play. Almost like the when magnets become slightly de-magnetized on a vintage guitar due to the artist leaving it propped up against their amplifier. 

Selector position 2: Neck and Bridge
An even balance of warmth and clarity without the mud. To me this was this guitars sweet spot.

Selector position 3:  Just Bridge
A slightly under-wound sounding American vintage PAF bridge without the headaches you get from a true vintage pickup. Excellent for cutting through the mix without the fear of unwanted feedback and squeal. 

Action, Fit & Finish:
The finish is beautiful -- she has a translucent cherry blood red top with rich natural woods on her back, sides and neck. The action was low without any fret buzz and the intonation was dead on. 

Reliability & Durability: 
The guitar seems to be well made. It is solid through and through. There was no hum or crackles from the electronics and all knobs and hardware were installed snug and proper.

This was a little different then a normal guitar that we would get in for a review. Not only was this designed to a particular artist's specifications, but it was also used by this artist for over a year on stage and in studio. This guitar's final destination is not with Local Music Gear nor is it going back to the artist. She was given to us to help with our fundraising efforts at the first annual Local Music Gear's Rock for Autism charity event. Some lucky guitar player will be getting this guitar with their $15 USD donation towards the Rock for Autism charity event. So to sum it up my first impression was that there are still kind and generous people left in this world.

Since this was the second Chili Custom Guitar I had the chance to review, I was very excited the day that she arrived. I've only found a handful of luthiers that are able to create a guitar that has that wow factor -- Horst from Chili Custom Guitars is one of them. The first guitar he sent is one of the guitars I use now as a standard for when reviewing other guitars because of it's superior build quality and attention to detail. I receive 5 to 6 guitars a month from luthiers wanting to have their guitar reviewed in Local Music Gear. Most of the guitars I receive are wonderful but at the same time most of the guitars I would not personally use just due to their configuration of design. Horst from Chili not only builds a quality instrument, but it's one that I prefer to use because it's my design preference. Due to the extreme temperature change she encountered by flying next air from Austria to New Jersey I loosened her strings and let her sit in a stand overnight before I played her. I was like a five year old on Christmas Eve just waiting to play her.

Going into this review I needed to treat it a little different. This guitar was specifically designed for an artist based on his needs and is not just the traditional production model. Because of that I needed to take in consideration weight distribution and how the body was cut. With that said, this was not right for me but the guitar is beautiful and plays like a dream.

The first thing I noticed was her weight -- she's a heavy girl at 10 lbs and she's all ass. Her neck is a beautiful bright maple with a warm maple binding that just makes her snakewood fingerboard pop. If I had to sum up how I felt about this guitar comparing it to traditional guitars it would be a Frankenstein of three different ones. She has the familiar shape of a double cutaway like a PRS with the weight distribution of an American Les Paul custom shop fitted with a Fender custom shop maple neck. It is three elements melted together from three beautiful guitars, that come come together in the best way. Though I would have my guitar built differently this guitar is by far one of the best instruments I have ever had the opportunity to play. 

What I would change: 
I would use a Tusq nut vs the bone, but that is just preference and I would want a wider, full C / V shaped neck. 

My advice: 
My advice about Chili Custom Guitars is you should play one and if you are collector you should own one. But for this guitar --  donate your $15 USD at the link below so you can be in the drawing to own it.

Donate Here: 

A special thank you to Horst, master luthier from Chili Custom Guitars, and blues legend Mr. Tino Gonzales for giving us this guitar to not only help with our fundraising efforts but also for making it possible for the average person to own this beautiful guitar. You are both true gentlemen, Thank you.  

Chili Custom Guitars
5071 Wals Siezenheim
+43 664 223 72 77
Posted 02/2013