Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 136

VG

GEAR

PORTRAIT
IN BLUE

The Newman Guitars
Lake Placid Blue

E

xcitement at the arrival of this offset
beauty was dampened by the sad news
that its creator had passed away July 1. Ted
Newman Jones was known for building
guitars in the 1970s for Keith Richards, who
helped finance the workshop where Ted
crafted customs for a who's-who of players.
While Newman arguably gained most of
his notoriety with the five-string open-G
models he built for Keef, there's no mistaking
the in-hand appeal of any Newman.
The Lake Placid's stunning finish covers a solid, swamp ash body shaped like a
cross between a Jaguar and a melted Les
Paul, with a single cutaway and a drooping
lower bout. The curly ash neck has gorgeous
cross-hatching in the grain, visible from
certain angles, and is topped with an ebony
fingerboard. The headstock, also in ebony,
features the cool invertible Newman logo
set in mother-of-pearl, like the dot inlays.
Design choices are so tastefully understated you don't quite realize the motherlode
of character and range you have on your
hands until the guitar is plugged in. It's responsive to a nuanced touch and roars when
muscled. And despite the dual-humbucker
setup, the tone is clearly in the Tele family.
The guitar has an exceptional vocal quality
for lead lines, marked by a pleasing nasal
resonance. With the Treble rolled back just
enough for low-string notes to cut through,
double-stops to hum, and high notes to open
a conversation, the neck position proved a
favorite lead setting. The punch of a cranky,
overdriven Stones riff is immediately available in the bridge position, and chords chime
brightly in the middle.
In all three positions, the Newman occupies the right midrange zone to sit well
in a mix - a quality that should be common among electric guitars but is not. A
treble-bleed circuit helps maintain balance
by filtering bass frequencies as volume is
reduced.

While tone woods and construction
have their influence on the Newman's sound, a hat tip is definitely
warranted to the Jimmy Wallace
PAF humbuckers. Voiced to emulate
vintage '50s and '60s tones, the PAFs
have a relatively low resistance for
humbuckers (7.2k in the neck, 8.4k
bridge), which accounts in part for
how 'buckers could have the growl
and rasp of a Tele setup. Wallace is so
dedicated to a faithful reproduction of
the early humbucker, right down to
the butyrate bobbins, that he says his
hand-wound PAF "not only sounds
and looks like the original pickup,
but smells like one, too!"

VINTAGE GUITAR

A signature of Ted's instruments
has long been his asymmetrical
neck profile, and it's a dream - a
soft V shape with the depth running
deepest behind the D and A strings
rather than straight down the middle.
The carve is subtle and ergonomic; the
thumb is supported and the fingers have
an easier reach across the strings. It's
a substantial bolt-on neck, too - 12"
radius and 24 playable frets along a
24.75" scale - contributing to tone
and sustain. Thanks to the profile, it
doesn't feel bulky.
The Hipshot locking tuners and all
other hardware are polished chrome
(save the distressed PAF covers),
which sit handsomely against the blue
finish and the ebony. Controls include
CTS 500k Volume and Tone pots and
a Switchcraft three-way toggle.
The passing of Ted Newman Jones is
a loss to guitar lovers and to luthiery, but
Newman Guitars will go on as he wished
under general manager Jeff Smith and
luthier Jacob Harper. And it's difficult
to imagine a better testament to that
continued legacy than instruments like
this Lake Placid Blue. - Rich Maloof
Price: $2,799 (street)
Info: newmanguitars.net

136

December 2016


http://www.newmanguitars.net

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 1
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 2
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Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - Contents
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