Can you really make a guitar for this sort of money thats worth making a song and dance about? It seems that Adam Black may have found a way. Marcus Leadley investigates.
With a push-pull phase switch on the volume knob and a mini coil-tap toggle, the slightly pricier Libra is designed for ‘extreme versatility’ rather than ‘extreme rock’. The bolt-on, satin finish maple neck has an unbound rosewood fingerboard, which feels completely different to the Orion’s – it’s slimmer, faster and more modern, if slightly generic and not especially exciting. Again, the guitar is quite heavy. The alder body carries a flame maple veneer with a droptop forearm chamfer but no ribcage chamfer. The matt brown finish and single cut styling is ‘modern conservative’ and the overall package has the vibe of a budget Taylor Solidbody: a respectable guitar for a grown-up player. The pickups are the same, but there’s a tun-o-matic style bridge with a stop tailpiece.
Though the sustain, depth of tone or resonance aren’t quite as full as on the Orion – a reflection, most likely, of the different construction and hardware – these humbuckers do deliver great rock noises. The extra sounds help make up for it, and though it doesn’t rival a Tele or a Strat for ultra-bright zinginess with a microphonic, clicky pick edge, the split single coil tones do offer a sharp attack and a heightened focus. The phase switch gives a thin, trebly tone: there are recording scenarios where this can be used to good effect, but on stage you’ll need to compensate for the volume drop with a booster pedal, and you’ll run the risk of cutting the front row off at the ears. Even so, I’m glad to see the option included because it will make someone very happy.
The Libra Extreme is a mixed bag: personally I don?t like the neck so much, but another player might prefer it. It?s also capable of a much wider set of sounds than the Orion, but everything apart from the basic humbucker tone feels a little compromised. I have a feeling I?d mostly end up leaving the coil tap and phase switch alone, but if you use a lot of different sounds and only want to take a single instrument to a gig, this would be a good option.