Ola Englund, YouTube sensation and guitarist for The Haunted and Feared, launched Solar Guitars, his own line of high-quality instruments, in 2017. The company is based in Sant Gregori, Spain, and their guitars are made in Indonesia. But as the wonderfully decorated GC1.6AFAB reviewed here reveals, this collaborative formula delivers stunning results at relatively affordable prices.
Down to the details
At a glance, the GC1.6AFAB brings to mind great all-around instruments like the PRS SE or even the Tom Anderson Atom. It looks sharp, and even a bit traditional, with its flame maple top over a mahogany body and gold hardware down to the pickups, bridge and tuners. Only the pointed inverted headstock, lack of inlays (other than the Solar logo around the 12th fret), and glow-in-the-dark side dots betray a possible metal-oriented lineage.
The guitar is meticulously crafted and there are no visible construction flaws. The low-action factory setup is perfect. The design of the GC1.6AFAB is also very ergonomic. A belly cutaway adds a nice contour to the back of the guitar, and the neck-thru body construction with a sculpted neck joint allowed for easy access up to the 24th fret.
With jumbo stainless steel frets on a graphite reinforced neck, double action truss rod, 13.78″ radius fingerboard, graphite nut and locking tuners, the GC1.6AFAB is just the thing. Another contemporary distinction is the EverTune bridge, which uses a floating nut and spring system to keep each string in tune, no matter how aggressively you play. On our test guitar, the EverTune was set up to allow bends on the top three strings, while the low strings were tuned to resist pitch variations entirely. or add vibrato, only to hear a pitch that never wavered. And I was certainly flabbergasted when I instinctively tried to make low strings. the notes rumble adding a pe u of curvature. Set up this way, the EverTune will take some getting used to. However, it is a killer feature if you pluck hard or inadvertently pull some of the high notes during tuning. If you’re recording and need to nail down a pitch-perfect grip, this can be invaluable. And you can always reconfigure the deck for a more conventional but still exceptionally stable setup.
It blows, it hits, it sings
The pickups on the GC1.6AFAB, a pair of excellent Fishman Fluence Modern active units, also display Solar’s forward-thinking approach. They have independent volume controls with a split tone knob that has a push/pull function for the Fishman Fluence voices: “active” (voice 1) and “passive” (voice 2). (Here, the active and passive phrases refer to voicings rather than the strict definition of active and passive pickups.)
With the bridge pickup and active voice engaged, the pick response is crisp and quick on the low strings. With the help of EverTune’s unwavering tuning stability, individual notes and picking nuances are super articulate. Digging harder rarely revealed fuzzy ambiguities. And the quick alternate sequences were super accurate. Be warned though: if you’re having a sloppy day, the immediacy of the Fluence mics can be unforgiving.
In the light settings, the GC1.6AFAB’s bridge pickup sounds very hi-fi and very loud in both voices. Multi-finger tapping phrases are punchy and come out strong and consistent along the fretboard. Cascading arpeggios have a harp-like clarity, and individual notes sound cohesive and even across the entire range of the guitar. And while the mic isn’t too bright, there’s a ton of presence. Until the Tone knob is all the way down to about 2, you hear little “darkness”. The active voice neck pickup is more bass focused than the bridge. When I held an open G chord, the 6th string resonated with a low end you might call boomy. Comparatively, with the passive voice, the neck pickup sounded a bit more balanced.
If I imagined a grinder creating a custom guitar, it might look a lot like GC1.6AFAB. There’s a lot about the styling that feels relatively traditional, except for the many high-end components that Solar has included here. At $295, putting an EverTune bridge on an existing guitar (a process that would involve routing and likely devaluing your instrument) is an expensive proposition. Add a set of gold Fishman Fluence Modern pickups for around $260 and you’re looking at an investment well north of $500 before you even pay to install your upgrades on an existing instrument. Considering how Solar seamlessly brings these elements together in such an impeccable playing guitar, the $1,349 you’ll pay for a GC1.6AFAB is a pretty incredible deal.
Solar Guitars GC1.6AFAB Demo | First look
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