Comins GCS-1

High-end US luthier heads east

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.

MusicRadar Rating

4 / 5 stars
Pros

Beautifully built. Fantastic jazz and blues tones.

Cons

Expensive for a Korean build.

Verdict

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

No. of Frets

22

Scale Length (Inches)

24.75

Country of Origin

Korea

Hardware

Tune-o-matic bridge and stud tailpiece, Wilkinson tuners with faux ebony buttons – all chrome-plated

Back Material

Laminated sapele

Neck Material

Mahogany

Top Material

Laminated flame maple top

Circuitry Type

3-way toggle selector switch with individual pickup volume and tones

Back and Sides Finish

Violin Burst (as reviewed), Vintage Blond, Tangerine Burst, Autumn Burst, Black

Sides Material

Laminated sapele

Scale Length (mm)

628

Fingerboard Material

Bound Rosewood

Pickup Type

2x custom-wound Kent Armstrong humbuckers

Body Style

Single-cutaway, semi-solid electric

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.

Comment on Facebook