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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Green "Dragon Skin" Tempest by Trident Guitars ... (Review)

Reviewed By: Jac Harrison
Purchased from: Manufacturer
Street Price: $999.00 USD with case + shipping

Trident Guitars is a Manufacturer of handcrafted, American built electric guitars based out of Royal Oak, MI.

This Tempest model has a 1 piece poplar body, a maple/walnut/maple  25.5" scale neck dressed with a maple fingerboard and body in 'dragon skin' green with a tung oil finish.

High quality hardware with 2 Volume, 1 Tone, 3-Way Toggle Switch.

Gibson P100 pickups, Mighty Mite toggle 3 way selector switch with 500k pots and Switchcraft output jack.

Amp(s) used:
Vox Pathfinder 15R
Fender Blues JR
Marshall Class 5

Cables used:

Selector position 1: Just Neck
1970's SG rhythm turned up a notch.

Selector position 2: Neck & Bridge
A well balanced mix and out of phase, very bare knuckle sounding.

Selector position 3: Just Bridge
A bright throaty classic rock in your face lead.

Action, Fit & Finish:
This guitar has a beautiful translucent green satin finish that the manufacturer refers to as "dragon skin". The guitar was spotless and in perfect condition. The intonation was dead on and the action was low without any buzz.

Reliability & Durability:
The guitar seems to be well made, no hum or crackles from the electronics, all knobs and hardware installed snug and proper.

This is a cool guitar. It is not dainty, fragile, sensitive, or delicate--this is a beast. With its super thick one piece body, chunky slab like fingerboard and wide flat "U" shape neck, you know you are playing a solid wood guitar from start to finish--I have dubbed it "The Lumberjack." The body has the first appearance of a flat top Strat, but as soon as you pick her up you forget all about the "Strat like" guitar you just saw and dig in, and play her hard. It's almost like they have taken elements from many different guitars, Frankensteined them together and fattened her up in all the right places -- making this a very unique guitar.

The pickup choice of the Gibson P100 had me a little worried. I have never been a fan of the P100 and have thought that they sound like a broken-down PAF that was going through an identity crisis (A P100 is a stacked humbucker that looks like a P90). I refer to them as the "drag queen" of pickups. These pickups worked and sounded good in this guitar for two reasons. The first is that this guitar has a poplar body and projects a brighter sound than the typical mahogany bodies that Gibson uses. The poplar body allowed the mid range frequency to flow through, giving the pickups a fuller richer sound than you would get for a mahogany body. The second is that this guitar has a tung oil finish and not the typical Gibson heavier lacquer or nitrocellulose finish that can alter and trap the pickup's natural sound before it projects -- robbing you of your tone. It just goes to show you that a good luthier knows how to put together a guitar, and make her parts come together nicely.

One of the things I really enjoyed about Trident guitars is that on their website where they list the guitar specs, they give you the option to customize the guitar like everyone in the boutique business does, but they will also allow a customer to send in parts to be used. I thought this was very cool. I have a ton of pickups that are handmade and I have ordered guitars in the past knowing that I was going to swap them out as soon as it arrived. This would have saved me a few hours of soldering and setup if the boutique guitar manufacturer I bought from offered this service. Anyone can make a quality guitar, but not everyone offers quality personalized customer service like these guys do.

What I would change:
The tuning machine heads. With the offset design of 4 and 2 instead of the typical 6 and 6 I would have liked a smaller knob. I found that they were too close and I had to put more effort in while tuning to avoid detuning the next string by bumping the next machine head.

My advice:
If you are in the market for a vintage 1970's classic rock sounding guitar that doesn't come with 30 + years of someone else's sweat and grime on it. This is a great example and I would say play one before your next purchase.

Trident Guitars
PO Box 125
Royal Oak, MI 48068
(P) 313-355-3818

Posted 07/2012