Spotlight On : Feline Guitars 30th Anniversary Guitars
Well here we are celebrating 30 years of our guitar brand.
It's another milestone year, and time once again to come up with some interesting guitars to mark the occasion.
We like to do something new (for us), or a little different on our Anniversary builds and this year is no different.
We have always tended to be a little weight conscious with our guitar builds and this year we decided to take player comfort as our guiding principle.
We once again decided to build a run of 10 guitars, and toyed around with a couple of design choices to offer up.
We considered doing some of the models with a Floyd Rose tremolo system, but in the end we shelved doing that until next year with a run of special models. Instead we thought that we could also use it as an opportunity to launch the new Lion DropTop model, which will definitely have a permanent place in our lineup......more on that soon.
The archtop lineup in this run comprised of 7 slimmer than normal Lion Supreme models with lovely figured tops.
We had a target weight of between 7 and 7.5lbs for these instruments, which makes them a great choice for extended rehearsals or playing sessions.
Also ideal if wearing a heavy guitar would normally give you the kind of discomfort that results in visits to a physio or osteopath.
Let us run through the feature set of these lovely guitars from top to bottom.
Our real Mother of Pearl logo inlaid in ebony on the front of the headstock.
You may even see a slight colour streak or grain line as the wood is not stained.
We use the Earvana Compensated tuning nut that makes the whole guitar sound more in tune.
In this picture you can see the beautiful real mother of pearl and paua abalone inlays on the fretboard along with the chunky Dunlop 6000 fretwire.
The binding is the usual wonderful grained Ivoroid that we so love to use.
The rear view of the headstock reveals the 3 piece quarter-sawn construction that our necks always have for strength, rigidity and freedom from twisting.
We still prefer to use a volute at the base of the headstock to put a little wood back in an area that loses a little wood for the truss rod adjustment.
For tuners we are using the Graphtech ratio tuners that have individual ratios for each string, and make the careful, gradual tuning of the usually more sensitive strings (Low E and G) a breeze.
In this picture you can see the lovely graining in the Ivoroid binding.
We usually use Black Tahiti Pearl side dot inlays on our bound necks in most cases, unless using a glow in the dark Luminlay or something by special request.
The all access sculpted neck joint is the feature that is often the most talked about one with our Lion models.
We use a deep set full width tenon with no voids or gaps that lets us subsequently shape and sculpt away the heel to leave a neck joint that is free from any obstruction to your playing.
Rather than being a generic machine cut contour on the heel these are hand sculpted to ensure that your hand can get around the heel in an unfettered way reaching every last fret with ease.
We also hand shape all our necks and finesse the necks so that they are "hand shaped" making for total playing comfort with the rolled edges, almost as if the neck was moulded to your hand's shape.
While speaking of sculpting and contours we should mention our "whale" tummy cut. We call it that because the shape looks like a cartoon of a whale if you add a tail & fins to it.
Seeking out maximum comfort on these guitars was a great way of letting you play for hours without feeling a pain in your lower ribcage.
With the full rear view, as seen above, you can see how those features look together. You can also see our laser etched anodised aluminium control cavity plates, with the toggle switch cover bearing a special 30th Anniversary motif.
Let us take a look at the other hardware on these guitars.
This time we decided to give Cream T pickups a go, using the "BernieBucker" on the archtops (a carefully scanned and cloned version of the pickups of Bernie Marsden's '59 Les Paul named "The Beast" heard on all those Whitesnake albums).
The DropTops got a Cream T BFG Banger pickup set - favoured by ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons for his live stage guitars.
We used Anomaly brand pickup rings for a classy look .
Bridges were Tonepros locking units with TonePros locking tailpiece studs holding a light weight aluminium tailpiece.
Electronics were switchcraft switches and jacks and Bare Knuckle specced CTS pots and boutique capacitors.
We mostly used Jensen capacitors, but sometimes SoZo Mustard Caps were used instead.
We also thought that reflector cap knobs fitted the bill too.
What of the DropTop Models ?
So this new model was us taking a flat top Junior or Cub model in a new direction, with some body contours and a slice of lavishly figured maple dropped on top with the arm contour part being bent over the mahogany's contours......hence Drop Top.
A Drop Top can be tricky to do, but the result is very effective, and with the edge of the maple being kept free of colour it takes on the look of a flame maple binding.
All the other features and appointments are the same as those on the arch-top versions with the exception of the control layout, which we will explain below.
We have a 3 in a line control knob layout reminiscent of a classic Hamer or Gibson Explorer maybe, with 2 volume controls and a master tone.
We choose to put the Bridge pickup volume further forward, with the neck volume and master tone sitting in the same place where the neck volume and tone would sit on a classic Les Paul type guitar.
The toggle switch sits where the bridge volume would normally sit on a Les Paul guitar.
All the controls are surprisingly easy to access without really moving your hand from the bridge.
So let's see the guitars.......