When talking about the NYA, Jim proudly
states, “It was the first chance I’ve had to
build something I really wanted rather than
guessing what our customers wanted.” Jim
also wanted to add that the NYA heralds
a radical departure from how his previous
guitars were made. It also sheds light on the
future of Soloway guitars.
“I’ve just sold all of my swamp ash blanks
that were under 13” and I’ve just bought
about 300 board feet of new lumber and
now, if possible, all newer guitars will use
single piece backs and tops.”
Not only is the neck slightly out of the
ordinary, the body shape is also somewhat
unusual. Although the body is a “double
cut” visually, you can see hints of Fender,
PRS, Rickenbacker, and early B.C. Rich in
its design. Turning the NYA over exposes
a deep heel carve around the neck’s back
plate and offers excellent upper fret access.
Whether playing seated or standing, the
NYA is an extremely well-balanced guitar
and is light and easy to play, with minimum
need of adjustment for your playing style.
In fact, I found that with the added neck
length, arpeggiated runs were far easier to
play on the NYA than they ever were on a
24. 75” neck. One of the things that Jim
guarantees is that his guitars will never be
neck heavy—an astonishing claim, given the
fact that the NYA is crowned with six Hip
Shot Grip-Lock tuners. The NYA also uses
an unusual 16” fretboard radius. Jim points
out that classical guitars use flatter fretboard radii than many electrics. Overall, the
feel of the neck is similar to a late-eighties
Jackson than to that of a more conventional
jazz box. Some of that “feel” is due to the
ultra-thin nitro finish on the neck and fretboard. I was convinced that Jim was using
an oil finish because the finish was so thin,
but he said that wasn’t the case at all.
Powering the NYA was a trio of DiMarzio
Tele-style pickups with an Area-T in the
neck and middle, and a Virtual Solo in the
bridge. Jim took yet another unexpected
approach to setting up his pickups in that
the mid-pickup isn’t wired through any tone
controls. Jim stated that it lent to a more
usable pickup and didn’t muddy its tone.
Revealing yet another unexpected twist, Jim
had wired the traditional neck/middle combination to select a neck/ bridge selection
with the five way toggle. “I personally find
that to be a really useful and more Tele-like
sound,” said Jim.
Clean is as Clean Does
Playing the Soloway NYA through my
Princeton Reverb was a beautiful experience.
The sound was lush, buttery and organic with
a hint of a big box’s openness but without a
lot of the boom associated with large bodied
guitars. With the five position toggle and
three Strat configured pickups, you may find
yourself boldly going where no Strat has
gone before. Your jazz and bebop lines will
have never sounded so funky. While scrolling
through the NYA’s pickup options, the middle pickup I mentioned earlier really caught
my ear. Not only did it not exhibit any of
the nasal like quality that so many Strat mid-pickups have it was so open and spacious
that it almost sounded like playing a dreadnought with a high quality piezo through an
amp. Although the NYA may not replace an
acoustic guitar for a gig, you may just want
to give it a try. Overall, playing the NYA back
to back with a more conventional Strat is like
the difference between playing a spinet and
a concert grand.
Oh, the Mesa Reverb Rocket, you nasty
junkyard dog of distortion… let me hear
Plugging the NYA through the Mesa Reverb
Rocket’s Lead and Contour channels was a
wild ride. A lot of semi-hollow body guitars
I’ve played through the Mesa’s particularly
nasty brand of distortion either are able to
make it across the junkyard unscathed or are
mauled by its jagged teeth. I am happy to
say that the NYA escaped without a scratch,
a little sweaty and out of breath maybe,
but alive and well. The NYA sounded huge
through the Mesa and absolutely menacing
when tuned to dropped D.
The Final Mojo
Perhaps I’m looking for a different rating scale for a guitar that’s so different.
Jim’s carving of the top of body for the
NYA model is a master builder’s tour de
force. Playing the NYA after an even good
Strat style guitar will make you realize how
muddy and indistinct your guitar is. The
NYA may not be for everyone, but for those
who are willing to take a chance, the NYA
is a wonderful instrument. At one time Jim
lent his considerable guitar playing skills to
JazzKat amps, but even he is surprised by
the stylistic directions other people have
taken his creations. For players who can
think outside the box chord and who are
willing to take a chance, the Soloway NYA
is a beautiful guitar that will open up new
channels for your playing. Unconventional?
Yes, but in all the right ways.
You’re a risk taker with your playing
and want a “big” sounding guitar.
You think the evolution of the guitar
stopped before 1960.
Our expert has stated his case,
now we want to hear yours.
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