REVIEW > MARIO GUITARS
24” scale "
With the Serpentine 2 running straight into
a Marshall 100-watt Super Lead, both the bridge
and dual-pickup positions sound super lively and
percolate with deeply focused harmonic detail.
Serpentine 2 and a similar Fender is
Martin’s use of paulownia, an ultralight
Asian wood that’s also grown in the
American South—which is where Martin
gets his. Its light weight has made it appealing to, of all things, wooden surfboard
builders who cherish it for its durability-to-weight properties. But as Mario Guitars has
discovered, paulownia can pay sonic dividends too, and it makes the first time you
pick up a Serpentine an almost shocking
experience. It seems to weigh almost nothing. And at just about five pounds, in guitar
terms, that’s very nearly true.
Once you get past the sense you’ve got
a bag of down feathers strapped about
your neck (a positively delightful sensation toward the end of a four-hour jam
session), you’ll notice the cool-looking TV
Jones Power’Trons. These humbuckers work
really well in terms of visual balance on the
Serpentine’s compact body, but also work
almost magically with the resonant range of
the paulownia wood.
Otherwise, the guitar is as simple as
they come. Two T-style chrome knobs and
a 3-position switch are arranged in a line
just out of the way of aggressive strumming
strokes, but close enough that you can pull
off volume swells with your pinky.
Power’Tron Tunes and
Playing the Serpentine 2 is a physical,
sometimes visceral experience—which is
to say it’s a an instrument that invites and
responds to body language and a dynamic
approach, and feels alive in your hands.
Not all players are willing to tinker
with a short-scale fretboard, but it can be
a ticket to nimble bends and quick pick-
ing when strung up with a set of .010s, or
alternatively, a steady, resonant, but pli-
able platform with .011s. Either way, it’s a
beautifully playable guitar. The guitar is so
light but balanced that putting a little lever-
age behind a bend with a downward pivot
on the neck is both easy and precise. The
medium jumbo 6105 frets on the essentially
C-shaped neck also help make bends a
breeze. This is a great guitar for expressive
players who use movement beyond fretwork
to add texture to their tunes.
PREMIER GUITAR FEBRUARY 2012 153