Airline Tux Deluxe review

  • £1099
  • $1399
The flamed-maple top is tidy and attractive.

MusicRadar Verdict

Get over the price tag and it's the sort of guitar that will make you want to add words like Howlin' or Smokestack to your name.


  • +

    Eye-catching vintage looks. Great tones.


  • -

    Slightly uncomfortable.

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Ever heard the original 1970 version of American Woman? It's the song with the fuzz tone lead part that sounds like a supercharged kazoo.

Randy Bachman was the guy who invented that evil lick when he played with The Guess Who. Now he's teamed up with retro luthiers Airline to upgrade their Tux model to Deluxe spec. So what do we get for their trouble?

"The Deluxe features coil-taps on both pickups."

If looks are anything to go by, quite a lot. The Deluxe's flamed maple top has a handsome, honey-coloured finish that enhances the Tux Deluxe's retro personality, and there's so much triple edge-binding on the guitar it looks like it's vibrating.

It's a shame that the single-ply plastic pickguard and pickup surrounds look a bit cheap by comparison.

In play, the first thing you notice is the low, springy action, which encourages you to throw down your plectrum and get medieval with your fingers.

The glued-in neck has a deep, D-shape profile that promotes solid tone, but there are just 19 frets to play with (if you exclude the zero fret), which means hardcore shredders will reach the end of the runway fast.

But the Deluxe isn't designed to go places in a hurry. Like a vintage Cadillac, it's built for cruising in style - and it does that very well.

It's not all an easy ride, however. The triple binding on the fingerboard feels hard-edged compared to a regular 'boardand, along with the plump neck, means the Deluxe doesn't feel instantly comfortable in hand.

Although there are no telltale f-holes on view, the Deluxe has a deep, hollow body that adds extra warmth and roundness to your tone - but also digs into your ribs.

You do get a plush, fur-lined hard case into the deal, however, so at least the guitar will rest easy when not in use.

All that gets forgotten when you hear the tone. The P90s have plenty of horsepower when you need to put the hurt on, but drop the volume and they clean up sweetly.

The Deluxe features coil- taps on both pickups, which means you can cut the output of either by 30 per cent using the push-pull tone controls.

A neat trick is to select both pickups, leaving one pickup on full while the other has the coil-tap engaged. This lopsided setting yields some really special tones, from lead sounds as thick as Mississippi mud to burning rhythm tones that hang in the air like heat haze.

Airline deserves praise not just for making guitars that look like they fell off the back of a time machine, but for conjuring up demon tones that you won't hear elsewhere.

The Tux Deluxe's hollow body and coil-tapping system produce a full deck of big, swampy sounds. If that's not your thing, then maybe you're not cut out for evening wear.

Jamie Dickson

Jamie Dickson is Editor-in-Chief of Guitarist magazine, Britain's best-selling and longest-running monthly for guitar players. He started his career at the Daily Telegraph in London, where his first assignment was interviewing blue-eyed soul legend Robert Palmer, going on to become a full-time author on music, writing for benchmark references such as 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die and Dorling Kindersley's How To Play Guitar Step By Step. He joined Guitarist in 2011 and since then it has been his privilege to interview everyone from B.B. King to St. Vincent for Guitarist's readers, while sharing insights into scores of historic guitars, from Rory Gallagher's '61 Strat to the first Martin D-28 ever made.