Comins GCS-1 review

  • £1399
  • $1499

High-end US luthier heads east

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Our Verdict

A perfect choice for the serious jazz/blues/fusion player. Beautifully crafted, too.

For

  • Beautifully built. Fantastic jazz and blues tones.

Against

  • Expensive for a Korean build.
Buying options

Bill Comins is a top-flight USA luthier and the GCS-1, constructed in Korea, represents his first offshore venture.

Constructionally, it sits midway between the classic ES-335 and the modern solidwood-style of semi-acoustics like the PRS SE Zach Myers. So, we get a solidwood centre section routed out to leave a full-length centre block and plenty of air in the lower bouts. Above the tip of the two f holes, however, it's all solid.

"It's a well thought-through design with a good weight and enough bulk for a seated jazz player"

Both the back and top are laminated, and faced with mahogany and figured maple veneers respectively. Edges are bound top and back, as are the f-holes, and while all our samples have an arched top, this is the only one with an arched back.

The control layout is close to the classic Gibson recipe, but both 'buckers can be simultaneously coil-split - voicing the neck-facing single coils of each - via a pull-push on the neck pickup's tone control.

Those wooden control knobs, with clear position markers, add some boutique class that's mirrored by the faux ebony buttons of the Wilkinson tuners.

Its three-a-side headstock has a modern-but-classic shape, and its understated looks are supported by simple dot inlays on the very clean 'board. It's a well thought-through design with a good weight and enough bulk for a seated jazz player.

Sounds

With a glorious new Gibson ES-335, a more hollow and lighter-weight PRS Singlecut Hollowbody, and a few other semis, as references we warmed up our test amps. Any guitar that gets close to those benchmarks is going to be good. We weren't disappointed.

There's a little more 'tuxedo' to the Comins. There's a richness to the clean tones, and 'home' might be the neck humbucker, especially cleaned with some volume roll-off. The single-coil mode is useful, too, and there's plenty of jangle here - with crunchier sounds that work well, though the bridge pickup is a little too open for tougher rhythm styles.

At the higher end of gain settings, it doesn't sound as convincing as other semis we've revived lately, for example, the LTD Xtone PC-1V. We prefer this lower-gained, although it handles volume well. It's also a very comfortable guitar seated or standing.

The Comins seems tailored more to the jazz/blues player who doesn't need rockier sounds. But as a jazz/fusion guitar for the serious musician it not only looks the part but sounds it, too.

Tech Specs

No. of Frets22
Scale Length (Inches)24.75
Country of OriginKorea
HardwareTune-o-matic bridge and stud tailpiece, Wilkinson tuners with faux ebony buttons – all chrome-plated
Back MaterialLaminated sapele
Neck MaterialMahogany
Top MaterialLaminated flame maple top
Circuitry Type3-way toggle selector switch with individual pickup volume and tones
Back and Sides FinishViolin Burst (as reviewed), Vintage Blond, Tangerine Burst, Autumn Burst, Black
Sides MaterialLaminated sapele
Scale Length (mm)628
Fingerboard MaterialBound Rosewood
Pickup Type2x custom-wound Kent Armstrong humbuckers
Body StyleSingle-cutaway, semi-solid electric