detail that might have otherwise been lost.
And combining the mini humbucker with the
middle single-coil added a really cool quack to
the upper registers that was perfect for quick
double stops and upbeat rhythm work.
After hearing how well the guitar
handled clean tones with the neck and
middle pickups, I plugged into a 1981
Marshall JCM800 head driving a 4x12
cabinet and flipped to the bridge pickup.
Since the pickup is angled so that the
bass-string pole pieces are closer to the
neck than the treble poles, the bass
strings have more low-end response and
sag, while the higher strings retain more
snap and sting. The effectiveness of that
arrangement on the Nighthawk became
super apparent once I set the Marshall up
for a crunchy, mid-gain tone.
Like the neck mini humbucker, the
bridge pickup’s output seemed pretty hot,
and at times the output seemed to come at
the expense of clarity. I lowered the pickup
to open up the tone a bit, but it was diffi-
cult to find a sweet spot that didn’t sacrifice
some punch. Naturally, every player’s taste
is different, so some may find the pickups
perfectly suited to the guitar. Others—par-
ticularly fans of the original Nighthawk who
were frustrated by how the slanted pickup
prevented swapping it with an after-market
unit—will be glad to hear Seymour Duncan
recently announced (in conjunction with
Epiphone’s release of the guitar) it would
be making replacement pickups for the
Nighthawk in the form of the renowned ’ 59
and JB humbuckers. And who knows, per-
haps other manufacturers will follow suit.
The Nighthawk Custom reissue is both a
unique and capable guitar for the money,
and an absolute blast to play. The tone of
its bridge and neck humbuckers may not be
as refined as some would like, but otherwise
the guitar is solidly built and has a tone all
its own—thanks mostly to the unorthodox
scale length and compact body. If you’re
willing to break free of the Les Paul and
Strat molds, you’ll be surprised at how
much it can do and how great it feels—and
at a price that feels damn near a steal.
you crave the flexible tones and
playability of the Nighthawk, but
don’t have the funds for an original.
you prefer a shorter scale length or
require a tremolo.
or use a mobile device to watch a
video review of the guitar at
Superior Craftsmanship | Superior Tone