Angus Young’s bristling sounds in the Bon
Scott era will fall completely in love with
this guitar’s capacity for driving the meatiest
riffs while retaining high-end and midrange
nuance. Jimmy Page-inspired lead tones
are another of the Downtowner’s strengths,
and those biting Page tones from the BBC
Sessions (which have always seemed crazily
elusive to this reviewer) pour out of the
Downtowner at every turn.
Flipping to the neck pickup, rolling the
tone control down, and adding a touch
of amp overdrive was the ticket to some
of the finest tones lurking within the
Downtowner. And relying on the guitar’s
volume knob to add and subtract dynamics and aggression tapped an endless range
of voices. At these settings it felt almost
mandatory to delve into vintage Cream
riffage—dropping the guitar’s volume for
cleaner rhythm work and cranking it up
for that biting “Crossroads” tone. Even
with the tone knob rolled down about
two thirds, pick dynamics came through
loud and clear. The guitar’s sensitivity
Echopark Guitars, Custom Koa Limited, $3,000 (direct, includes G&G Custom
59 hardshell case), echoparkguitars.com
Pros: Exceptionally cutting and muscular tonal palette.
Cons: No coil tap. Neck might be too beefy for some.
through a wide range of volume and tone
settings is exceptional.
The neck pickup also sated my hunger
for mellower, more subdued tones. It’s
easy to tame the Downtowner’s high-end
tendencies by using the guitar’s tone knob
and a lighter attack—an approach that
yields some incredibly smooth and wide-sounding jazz tones. Dropping the neck
pickup’s volume a touch produced delicious Stonesy rhythm sounds.
The Downtowner is a guitar that rewards a
nuanced touch and a dynamic right hand.
It can be a bright instrument that highlights
every last detail of your pick attack. And for
the tones you associate with the great Les
Paul slingers of the ’60s and ’70s it’s a dream
come true. The smooth mids, stalwart lows,
and raunchy high end set it apart from even
top-notch, custom, Gibson-inspired instruments. The styling and construction details
make it more than just another vintage Les
Paul clone. And as a whole, it shows that
Gabriel Currie has not only learned much
from the masters about putting together a
great guitar, but that he really understands
how the component parts of a guitar come
together to sound extraordinary.