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Britain, Britain, Britain… land of high production costs, overpaid workers and punitive tax rates. As such, it’s no surprise that relatively few axes are made in this green and pleasant land, and a big one that Adam Black has built the Libra from its Essex HQ for £399.
But should we bestow our royal appointment on it? Forget the British build: it’s bulletproof, but not noticeably better than a modern Far Eastern one.
Of more interest is the Libra’s mix-and-match spec. It looks like a Les Paul-inspired bruiser, but features a Fender-style ash body and maple bolt-on neck. You pick it up expecting to play meaty mid-tempo rock riffs, but are thrown a loop by the two-octave neck and 25.5-inch scale.
Inevitably, given the wood, the humbuckers don’t deliver the dark ‘boom’ you’d get if they were sat in a brick of mahogany, but that’s kinda refreshing - it’s bright, jangly and rich, a good halfway house. Similarly, the filth is a bit more wholesome than Slash fans might demand, but it’s anything but boring.
Only a plank would buy a guitar solely because of its birthplace. Fortunately, the Libra’s qualities run deeper than a stiff upper lip. In a price bracket where imagination is thin on the ground, this is a memorable axe that plays fast and loose with spec sheet conventions, and to generally good effect, as long as you’re not expecting the bottom-heavy swagger of a textbook singlecut.
Pros: Quirky, build, memorable.
Cons: Lack of mahogany warmth.