Let's talk US Masters guitars.

Mr. Brady

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840
So I've always liked HSS strats and I'm a guy with Suhr tastes but on an tighter budget. I happened across a US Masters Legrand for sale here on the Emporium. I did some research and couldn't find much about them, but it looked like it had decent hardware but a unique neck pocket. I didn't find many youtube videos and the ones that are out there have really bad audio quality and sound very poor. Since the price was really good. (Under $600) I thought I'd take a chance. I immediately fell in love with it and promptly made a vow to buy a second if I ever saw another one. I picked up a Vector on Reverb. While I like it, it didn't quite measure up to the Legrand and part of that reason is that someone changed out the stock pickups from what I can tell. The volume balance between the single coils and the Humbucker is way off. It does have a more LP like tone than the other two due to the mahogany body with a maple top. Great guitars and all for under $700 each used.

In October I found another Legrand and promptly picked it up. It's not quite as nice as my first one, but it's a great backup.

I know a few of you out there have to have had one or currently have one. Anybody else want to chime in on these great guitars that when found are a steal in terms of sound and quality.

Here's a pic of the three.




And a crappy iphone vid.

 

atquinn

Silver Supporting Member
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9,750
They were stocked in some of the local guitar stores when I lived in Wisconsin (iirc, that's where they were made). They seemed kind of interesting feature-wise, but heavy.

Austin
 
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archey

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6,388
I had a strat style US Masters. It had some great sounds in it, though the neck had kind of a funky shape. I remember the fretboard being unusually thick. They made Dean guitars "Hardtail" model.
 

Mr. Brady

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840
I’m not sure how heavy the middle one is, I’d guess about 8 pounds, not the lightest, but not the heaviest either. The neck shape is pretty nice, nothing wild. The fret board is very thick.
 

atquinn

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9,750
The Vector on the right shows two of their innovations: 23 frets (unique to them) and the point-tech trem (used in some other "boutique" guitars of the day like Baker and Brubaker).

Austin
 

Mr. Brady

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840
I have a price list sheet with info on a bunch of the other models. They also made bass guitars. The Legrand and Vectors were priced at about $1500-$2000 depending on options. In some research back on some of the threads here, it appears they had some forum presence on TGP, but eventually went out of business. Most posts about the guitars are positive.

If I have any issue with the two Legrands, I want another fret. Both play very well and both have great tones and the pickups are some of the best I've had. I believe maybe Bill Lawrence pickups. Really nice and clear, not noisy except for some minor hum in the neck position.
@mr. moon
@Rick CD
 

Guitarworks

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10,417
They were based out of Madison, but to the best of my knowledge, have long since dropped off the radar. One can only gather they've been defunct and out of business for a number of years. I don't know how much of their product line, if any of it, was fabricated in-house and not outsourced. They were predominantly a superstrat copy builder/assembler from what I recall (which was and is an extremely crowded room in which to make a living), and if you're gonna build strats, that's likely the cheapest and most plentiful body and neck type available to outsource from southeast Asia or the Pac Rim. But yeah - I've seen some folks on TGP have managed to find Am. Masters stuff here & there and are impressed with them.
 

mc5nrg

Silver Supporting Member
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9,990
Claimed various unique design features including something regarding neck joint that I don't quite remember.Did some ghost building for other brands IIRC. My limited exp with American Masters is that they could be quite nice.
 

atquinn

Silver Supporting Member
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9,750
I think they were based just outside Madison (where I lived), Middleton maybe? Anyway, I was a poor grad student at the time so they weren't in the realm of possibility for me, but I plinked around on them a bit in the stores.

Austin
 
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Rick CD

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743
I picked up a US Masters Vector on a CL trade, really having not much of an idea about the guitar at the time, but it played great, the neck in particular felt right. The pickups are Bill Lawrence made. Quality guitar for sure. The truss rod adjust screw is at the heel, so a bit of a pain, but the way the neck was designed it seems quite sturdy. There were some photos or something I recall seeing online showing a full sized adult standing on the neck to illustrate their strength.
No complaints here, though it doesn’t get the playing time it deserves. Takes a back seat to my other guitars, not for any particular reason, really.
 

modavis99

Gold Supporting Member
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1,475
They were in Middleton outside Madison. I got to know the owner Dick Regenberg. He rebranded the set neck US Masters as Rehenberg guitars the last few years the shop was running. I had a few for a while, they were nice guitars. They made the Dean US Time Machine guitars for a while, the early 2000s I believe. I think Dick sold the business in 2014 or so.
 

TYR

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Messages
460
I owned a HSS strat style guitar way back when (20 some years ago). They were good guitars, especially for the money although they never had much brand presence. I ended up selling mine when I was paring down my collection. Crappy resale value since many have never heard of the brand but a great buy for anyone looking for a used one.
 

agquake

Silver Supporting Member
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1,131
If you can aff
So I've always liked HSS strats and I'm a guy with Suhr tastes but on an tighter budget.
If you can afford three US Masters on your budget, why not buy one really nice Suhr instead?
 

Mr. Brady

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840
If you can aff

If you can afford three US Masters on your budget, why not buy one really nice Suhr instead?
If you could buy a guitar that was 95% of the guitar you really liked for 1/3 the price would you? Oh, I do like variety and I suspect most guys here have more than one good guitar.
 
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If you could buy a guitar that was 95% of the guitar you really liked for 1/3 the price would you? Oh, I do like variety and I suspect most guys here have more than one good guitar.
My main beef with the couple that I played is they looked and felt kinda cheap for those price tags (the $1500ish range mentioned earlier)..sounded good though. I would definitely not come anywhere close to saying the ones I played were 95% of a Suhr quality wise.

Can’t speak for yours obviously, and mean no offense. Just my personal opinion of the 2-3 I put my hands on in the last few years.
 

Mr. Brady

Member
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840
My main beef with the couple that I played is they looked and felt kinda cheap for those price tags (the $1500ish range mentioned earlier)..sounded good though. I would definitely not come anywhere close to saying the ones I played were 95% of a Suhr quality wise.

Can’t speak for yours obviously, and mean no offense. Just my personal opinion of the 2-3 I put my hands on in the last few years.
95% is maybe high, but I have played a few Suhrs and they are fantastic. Tone wise my main one is right there, I think the playability is probably more along the lines of a very good American strat, not quite on Surh level there. I’d take these over any production level American strat for sure and I sold my Eric Johnson strat when I found the Legrand in the middle of the picture since I liked it more.
 

ptecat

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Messages
277
I own two U.S. Masters Sportsters. One is a thin-line with an Alder body that is 1.5 inches thick and weighs about 5.5 lbs. The other is Mahogany and full sized. Both are well-made guitars but the thin-line is special and I have gigged with it many times. The body shape is single cut, but a larger body style.
 

Mr. Brady

Member
Messages
840
I read that some of the ones in the later part of the line were later outsourced overseas. The US made ones seem well put together. The neck joint is certainly unique, I'd think it be hard to outsource the necks and bodies based on that alone.
 

mr. moon

Member
Messages
429
If you have questions about their product line from back in the day, follow the link below for a wayback machine search on their website, great info there!

https://web.archive.org/web/*/usmasters.com

I have a ton of fun stories related to them and their brand, from their local retail shop before they started the guitar factory, and such. Sad to see them go.
 
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Jeff_H

Supporting Member
Messages
59
I have had 5 of the US Masters built Dean Hardtails and still have my two favorites. They are beyond excellent guitars and my number 1 is a 2003 Hardtail. Outstanding quality, fit, finish, workmanship....everything. I love it over my Historic LP's, just because the playability is so good. I only wish the finish was nitro. Honduran Mahogany body and neck, carved 3/4" flame maple top, ebony fretboard and controls just like a LP.

No experience with their other models, but I can believe they are top shelf guitars. My Hardtail has been played by quite a few serious PRS fans, and many like the tone and playability of my Hardtail as much or more. That is all subjective though.

It would be fun for me to be able to talk to the owner or someone who worked there in 2003-2004. There are all sorts of stories about aged old growth lumber being used in the first years of the Hardtails, high quality old growth Michigan or Eastern Flame Maple for tops, etc. I'd just like to know what is real and what is made up internet hooey.
 




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