The delicate brown burst reveals a bit
of wood grain even at the darkest point
along the perimeter—a very nice touch.
ToneNation logo in abalone and ivory-toned
inlays. The optional ebony knobs have a
wonderful, chocolaty grain and remind you
you’re playing a quality handmade guitar
with every Tone and Volume adjustment.
They also found me thinking that a matching truss-rod cover and pickup rings would
have done a lot to complete the look.
Along with the traditional stop tailpiece and Tune-o-matic-style bridge, the
Heartland Standard includes ToneNation’s
own PAF-style neck and bridge humbuckers—which measure in at 7.9k and 8.9k
Ω, respectively—and have the sort of output level you’d expect from vintage-style
pickups. Loew uses special Sperzel tuning
machines to achieve straight string pull
over the nut while retaining a traditional
Gibson-style headstock width—an inspired
design move. Electronics include matched
CTS potentiometers and hand-selected
Orange Drop capacitors, with a rugged
Switchcraft toggle and input jack.
The 5-piece laminated neck, topped
by a wenge fretboard, is inspired by the
famous stability and rigidity of traditional
Gibson jazz-box necks, and it’s carved to
a rounded, medium-thickness C profile
that feels a lot like slimmer ’50s Les Paul
necks. The bone nut is beautifully slotted and the frets are smoothly leveled
and polished, though one more pass over
the fret ends with a dressing file would
have made the fretwork perfect. In an
effort to improve upper-fret access, Loew
developed a unique taper that carves
away much of the unnecessary mass from
the neck heel, while retaining structural
integrity. It’s a weight-saving and certainly
more comfortable design.
Balance and Tonal Complexity
The Heartland Standard was set up beautifully right out of the case. Considering
that the shipping box was hot when I
opened, this speaks volumes about the
stability of the neck. A few days on a
delivery truck during a Midwest summer is
a cruel test of the stability of any wooden
instrument, and the Heartland passed with
flying colors. At around eight pounds, it’s
lighter than average for a Les Paul–style
guitar despite a slightly larger body (it’s
around half an inch wider than a Les Paul
at the waist) and it’s exceedingly comfortable to play while standing or seated.
The guitar has a fast neck and low
action, measuring 3/64" at the 12th fret on
the high E string and 1/16" on the low E.
The medium-jumbo frets and 9. 5"-to- 12"
compound-radius fretboard made string