not to a point that they overpowered the
guitar’s fundamentals. And while the pickups’
voicings were decidedly on the smoky side,
they were by no means murky or ill-defined—
on the contrary, a better description may
simply be “mature.”
Spirit Series’ SweetSpot pickups adapted
well and didn’t become twangy or shrill.
The balance of the pickups was extremely
good; even if the bridge pickup did tend to
have a bit more output than the others, the
difference was minor. When I’m playing a
Strat-styled guitar, I often find myself wanting that extra push, rather than having it crap
out while playing clean, and I felt as though
Michael had read my mind. As mentioned
earlier, the sustain of the Spirit Series was
astonishing and was more akin to a hardtail Les Paul than a trem-equipped Strat.
Contrary to what you might think, it was perfect for long, legato passages.
The Final Mojo
In his 2004 book, Stradivari’s Genius, Tony
Faber wrote a story concerning one of
Stradivari’s most fabled violins. Often hinted
at but seldom seen, a mint condition 1716
violin was rumored to have been for sale. The
wily seller, Luigi Tarisio, teased the would-be
buyer, Delphin Alard, about its existence for
years. Exacerbated by years of delay, Alard
exclaimed, “So, your violin is like the Messiah:
one always expects him but he never appears.”
There’s a nasty internet rumor going around
stating that De Temple’s SweetSpot pickups
do not work well with high levels of distortion. I asked Michael specifically about this.
While he said that he didn’t feel like engaging in online flame wars, he did say that
he’s always surprised in being quoted for
things he never said. That’s fair enough, but
I decided to test the theory myself, running
the Spirit Series through my Mesa Boogie
Subway Reverb Rocket on the Contour setting, and out to a Tone Tubby 1x12 cab.
Michael De Temple is upfront concerning his
production lead time, so to quote his ad copy,
“The wait is long... the task arduous, the results
remarkable.” Is that arrogance? From any other
builder, this claim would be akin to hubris, but
Michael De Temple’s work lives up to the hype.
If you have some deep pockets and are willing
to wait, your patience will be well rewarded.
Despite the high levels of distortion, the
Spirit Series exhibited a remarkable amount
of clarity and note-to-note separation. To be
fair, things did get a little murky when the
Spirit Series was placed into its in-between
settings, but so has every other Strat-styled
guitar I’ve subjected to that level of distortion. Unlike so many seventies Fenders, the
Given that ever-spiraling prices have taken
most vintage instruments out of the reach of
players, consider this: the De Temple Spirit
Series is not too far out of the realm of
Fender’s Custom Shop offerings, and it may
well be the best built, most thoroughly actualized guitar of its kind out there.
you are looking for quite
possibly the best Strat-style
guitar built today.
you need to have an “F”
on the headstock
De Temple Guitars
Standard ’ 56 Spirit Series MSRP $6268
As reviewed $7528
Our expert has stated his case,
now we want to hear yours. Log
on to premierguitar.com, click on
this digital article and share your
comments and ratings.