Soloway swan

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by katarzis, Jul 7, 2006.

  1. katarzis

    katarzis Member

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    i heard the sound samples and it sounds great.
    unfortunaly i cant try one, and its too expensive to buy for blind...
    can you tell me your experience?
    does it feel like a tele? or more like a strat? or completely something else?
    does all swan guitars are 27" scale?

    thanks.
     
  2. Jim Soloway

    Jim Soloway Supporting Member

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    Since no one else has responded, I'll give you my obviously biased opinions.

    Yes, they all have the 27 inch scale length and they neither sound nor feel much like anything else.

    Comparing the tone to the basic LP/Strat/Tele triumverate, it is closer to a Tele than the other two, but it really is unique creature. It has a clarity and articulation from the longer scale length that give it very much its own sound. The attack is faster than normal and the bass has much more presence than normal. Acoustically, it's VERY loud and an unusual amount of that acoustic content translates to the amplified tone.

    One of the most common descriptions of the sound of our guitars is that they are very piano-like. Tha's one of my favorite aspects of the guitar and that metaphor has come out in a number of versions. The tonal impact of the longer scale length has been described as a "grand-piano effect" and they have often been compared to the sound of a Fender Rhodes. I consider all of those to be accurate and certainly a reflection of my tonal ambitions.

    From a feel standpoint, there are both pluses and minuses, most of which come from my own priorites as a player.

    I designed the guitars to be as comfortable as possible to play standing for long stretches. I like a guitar that is lightweight and well-balanced and those two factors more than anything else drove my design decisions.

    They do tend to be VERY light: 5 lbs on the low end to 7.5 lbs on the high end. We use light weight swamp ash for almost all the backs and with the exception of handful of experimental solid bodies, all of our guitars, including the newer contoured model, are heavily chambered on both the bottom and top sides with a solid center block.

    The other by-product of the weight/balance issue and the longer scale length, and probably the most controversial aspect of the guitar, is the neck shape. Both the fingerboard and neck profile are quite flat and the profile is quite thin. The frets are extremely large and the 16 inch radius makes the fingerboard feel wider than it actually is. The shape also keeps the neck very light, which helps with the balance issue. While I find it very comforfortable, it is definitely not to everyone's taste. It is very much a modern feel with very little relationship to a vintage neck design.

    The extra clarity can be a double edged sword and can make the guitar quite unforgiving. Precise playing is heavily rewarded, but sloppy playing is equally punished. These are definitely not guitars for everyone, nor were they meant to be, but in the right hands, they can sound absolutely glorious.
     
  3. Marty s Horne

    Marty s Horne Member

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    I've never seen one in person, but the recorded examples I've heard on my computer sound awesome.
     
  4. Mr.Hanky

    Mr.Hanky Supporting Member

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    I played them and met Jim at the Philly show last year, they are outstanding instruments, the 27 scale is not as drastic as you would think.
    To me it was noticable but not drastic at all, easy to get used to.
     
  5. Dan Desy

    Dan Desy Supporting Member

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    What Jim said! :)

    But if I may share my experience, I did the "blind buy" thing last year.
    I had a special Swan built for myself, and my first observation is that working with Jim was a treat.

    I had all the same worries as you, about scale length and tone, especially since I play rock, and nione of that fancy fingerstyle jazz that Jim plays (I just don't have that talent :p).

    Anyway, I quickly found out that these guitars (at least the one I got), suited any style. Sure, it sounded glorious clean, but worked really well with gain too. The scale? No problem whatsoever - felt like a Fender scale. Barely more tension than my usual 25" scale guitars, but it also had some advantages: if anything it made me play better more accurately. And the extra real estate up the neck was really great. And the tones are so sweet. Very consitent across strings and frets.

    Build quality as top-notch, of course. With a Swan, you might not get to choose every last detail of your guitar, but that's because Jim already figured out how to make the best guitar he can. So you get to pick siome things, but just trust him for the rest.

    By the way, I'm waiting for my second Swan now. Should be here in the next week or two (right, Jim? ;)). The first one I got was a seven string, but it turned out that as great as it was, it wasn't useful enough in my rock cover band. If I was more into original music, it would have been perfect. In any case, this new one will be a 6 stringer.

    In conclusion, in my estimation, you can't go wrong. Jim makes a great guitar.
     
  6. drummondrs

    drummondrs Member

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    I just got a maple neck one. And I love it! I will have to put the pics up properly. The 27" scale really isn't noticeable, only on the top 4 frets. Very loud acoustically like Jim said. It handles gain really well, which I was surprised at. Definately worth a shot!
     
  7. RickC

    RickC Gold Supporting Member

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    to echo some previous comments, I find the Swans to be extremely clear and balanced sounding. If I pick up a Strat, Les Paul, etc, before or after, I always notice how "coloured" those sound in comparison. Not necessarily a good or bad thing, just different.

    The other characteristic that stands out to me, the Swans sound "big".

    re the neck, I know it's not to everyone's taste, but I've been amazed at how well *I* get along with it. I have large hands and am used to strangling electric bass and even upright bass necks; over the years, I have rejected more otherwise great guitars due to too small or too flat neck, than for any other single reason. But I find that the Swan neck works for me, somehow. I guess my advice is, don't reject the Swan out of hand just because you prefer big necks; you might find this one to your liking anyway.

    /rick
     
  8. katarzis

    katarzis Member

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    Thanks for all the replies and especially for jim's reply.
    its a very interesting instrument and it's look like it is very well built.
    i realy want to buy a tele but the swan makes me think twice :).
     
  9. Dan Desy

    Dan Desy Supporting Member

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    If you want a plank of wood, get a Tele. If you want a nice guitar, get a Swan. Don't even think twice about it.
     

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