The brand made a low-key soft launch this week, debuting its A-Type hollowbody at a press event and through select US retailers Chicago Music Exchange, Gruhn Guitars, The Music Zoo, and Truetone Music.
Unsurprisingly, they were not cheap, with asking prices all north of three grand. All of them, unsurprisingly sold out. Powers, who brought innovations such as V-Class bracing to acoustic guitar, is unquestionably one of the visionary designers of his generation. If what he has done on the acoustic translates to electric, we will be in for a treat indeed.
The A-Type is a 21st-century boutique instrument that takes its aesthetic cues from 20th-century automobile design and surf culture. The control knobs for the pickups and the vibrato arm caps are all made from layers of surfboard resin – a byproduct of the surfboard glassing process during which the board is sealed and proofed for the ocean.
Powers says he the idea was to look at the history of the electric guitar and then create something new from it.
“I love electric guitars,” he said. “I’ve owned, played and worked on all the great ones. There was no need to recreate those. I wanted something inspired by the best of the past, but with modern capabilities. It took rethinking the entire guitar, absorbing 80 years of guitar evolution, and then taking a fresh approach – with some crazy, modern engineering – to pull this off.”
The design also draws upon Powers’ experiences with Taylor, either using mahogany or reclaimed Urban Ash for the body, with braced figured and plain maple tops.
The guitars have a pair of internal soundposts that, like a violin, are integrated within the bracing pattern that allow the top and back of the guitar to resonate in unison. The idea is that this promotes resonance while cutting the feedback that you can get with hollowbody electrics.
Necks are one-piece mahogany and carved into an asymmetric profile; they join the body with a dovetail joint. They are topped with Honduran Rosewood fingerboards, inlaid with Italian acrylic.
The guitars have a 24.875” scale length. Powers Electric is offering the A-Type with a choice of pickups, the FF42 “full Faraday” single coil, and the PF42 “partial faraday”. The latter is brighter, voiced to work better with high-gain situations. The former is voiced for clarity and warmth. Both are high-fidelity designs that respond to your picking dynamics.
Powers looked to the world of lap-steel design for the CamTail vibrato. The design sees each individual string ramp compensated for tension and gauge. When you press down on the bar, all of the strings move in unison.
They all bend to the same degree. If the surf culture aesthetic makes you think splashy Fender tube amp sounds, and the slapback bounce of the tape echo, that vibrato is certainly going to give country players something to get excited about. It would be interesting to hear some Hawaiian-style guitar on them, too.
Powers Electric is big news. The name behind it guarantees that. But the company is small. It might be some time before it grows into something that we see being more widely distributed.
That the launch was restricted to select retailers in the US is a function of the company’s scale; everything is made in-house. This is what you could call a legit boutique guitar, and for now produced only in small numbers.
We can only press our noses to the window and dream right now, but that’s often the case with high-end instruments.
You can check out the A-Types that have been built and sold over at Chicago Music Exchange, Gruhn Guitars, The Music Zoo and Truetone Music. Hear them in action in the demo videos above. And find out more at Powers Electric Guitars. Some of the colour finishes are exquisite.