This is a guest post by Stephen Rose
The Gibson Frank Zappa Roxy SG is a faithful recreation of the guitar that Zappa played throughout the early 70’s, and most notably, the Roxy concerts in December of 1973. This guitar is equipped with some modifications that, while minor, do a great deal to enhance the playability and tone. The Roxy SG is comprised of a Grade A mahogany body and neck, pearloid dot inlays, a Maestro vibrola tailpiece, and two toggle switches for coil tap and out of phase options that adds to the tonality of the over-wound 57 classic pickups.
I demoed this guitar through a Fender Hot Rod Blues Jr. with a Tube Screamer clone and a Fender Mustang I to try out a variety of presets. First, through the Fender tube amp, this guitar sounded flawless and had an overall warmth and the classic Gibson tone that is expected and sought after. When I added some overdrive, I felt the guitar come into its own, especially with both toggles engaged and the pickup selector in the middle position. I have found that this is the sweet spot for the guitar in both clean and overdriven settings. The guitar stays in tune quite well when using the vibrola to accentuate notes. It really is not intended for dive bombs and you will find yourself retuning the guitar shortly after going bar crazy. Next I tried the guitar using the Fender Mustang to see how it held up through a number of different amp models and effects. I dialed in a scooped Mesa Boogie type setting and the guitar sounded great. The next setting I tried was a clean shimmery chorus sound and I very much enjoyed the sounds I was able to get while adjusting the toggles with both the bridge and neck pickups. The placement of the toggle switches do not interfere with playing and I never found myself turning them off or on by accident.
It is important to note that this guitar is easy to play. It has very low action and, along with the slim, unpainted neck, you will be flying up and down the fretboard. The only other guitar I have owned that had this sort of low action and fast neck was an Ibanez Jem. Fret buzz is always a concern when playing a guitar with low action, but luckily there was not any fret buzz to be concerned with and this one was set up very well out of the box.
If your amp setting is bass heavy, I would suggest dialing down the volume on the guitar in the neck position to avoid a loss of desired tone or an added muddiness to your sound. Every player will have their preferences when it comes to “their sound” and I have found that this guitar is versatile enough to be considered an addition for anyone looking to expand their arsenal with a well built guitar full of tonal variety. This guitar is limited to 400 pieces worldwide and, while they are still available, I do not expect that to last through the end of the year. It is already listed as Out of Production on Gibson’s website. As a bonus, a copy of Frank Zappa & the Mothers Roxy & Elsewhere CD is included with each instrument.