Michael Spalt 624 HB Custom
Europe is teeming with great guitar makers and if you haven’t come across Michael Spalt then you really should.
Based in Vienna, and with a diverse background in art and film, Spalt has been making guitars professionally for some 15 years. He creates some pretty ‘out there’ sculptural designs from wood and metal, but all are fantastically crafted with an ever-present artistic eye guiding the lines. If you want vintage clones, look elsewhere.
This Custom 624 is one of Spalt’s more conventional designs, his take on the Les Paul – albeit with a flat front and Fender-like scale length. The top here is zebrawood and gives a striking appearance that’s contrasted by the sand-cast aluminium scratchplate. Don’t worry about the weight, though – not least due to its chambered back, the 624 weighs in just under 8lbs. Perfect.
Work of art that sounds the part
It’s such a beautifully conceived and crafted piece – and certainly recalls the work of Tony Zemaitis – that we’re really not sure whether it should be in an art display or strapped on and plugged in.
If you choose the latter route you’ll be rewarded with a sonorous, sustaining single-cut voice played clean and throaty girth with the wick turned up. But there’s a semi-like lively snarl in there, too.
There’s certainly a beautiful, almost 3D-like clarity, no doubt helped by the wenge fingerboard and that exotic wood top. The Lollar Imperials split nicely, too; it’s a work of art that sounds the part.
Available in the UK from The North American Guitar: 0207 835 5597
Switching is conventional with a three-way toggle, volume and tone, plus pull/push coil-splits for each pickup.
The Bakelite knobs are from a 1930s radio, apparently!
A Bigsby B-5 not only provides its classic shimmer and tonality but fits the aesthetic perfectly, too.
With Gotoh vintage-style locking tuners, bone nut and ABR tune-o-matic-style bridge, intonation and tuning stability are both excellent.
The set neck, with a deep tenon, is perfectly in (Gibson) style, although the scale length is Fender-like at 25.5 inches. Old stock Honduran mahogany is used for both the back and neck wood.