El Hombre’s bolt-on maple neck feels
fast and sweet and marries the feel of a
chunkier ‘60s Fender C-shape with that a
more contemporary flatter-radiused length
of fretboard. The setup on El Hombre is
excellent—set for a low-medium action that
makes complex chords feel easy and facilitates fast picking. The only drawback was
an intonation issue on the G string between
frets one and three. It’s a matter that can
be corrected with a setup, but not one you
want to see on a guitar that moves for just
north of 1,500 bucks. Elsewhere, however,
the fit and finish of El Hombre is superb.
The Lollar Imperials are a perfect match for the alder
El Hombre, with an uncommonly wide range and
responsiveness that make this guitar effective and expressive
in countless situations—especially if you’re willing to
tinker freely with the volume and tone knobs.
Big, Responsive, Touch Sensitive
Though it looks bossy (and boss) El
Hombre’s name makes the most sense
when you turn it up. This guitar sounds big
whether you’re wired to a little Fender Blues
Jr. or a Bandmaster and a 4x12. The 25. 5"
scale, the great setup, and the guitar’s nicely
balanced mass give El Hombre impressive
acoustic presence, resonance and sustain, and
a simple E chord rings with lingering harmonic richness without the help of an amp.
Once you do plug in, though, El Hombre
is a study in what a nice slab of wood, careful construction, and a great set of humbuckers can mean in sonic terms. The Lollar
Imperials are a perfect match for the alder El
Hombre, with an uncommonly wide range
and responsiveness that make this guitar
effective and expressive in countless situations—especially if you’re willing to tinker
freely with the volume and tone knobs.
With the bridge pickup engaged, and
volume and tone maxed, the Hombre and
the Imperials speak in a detailed, super-dimensional voice you don’t hear from a
lot of humbuckers—particularly when you
thump the low-E string and let it rumble.
There’s not a hint of muddiness, simple
chords burst with overtones, and the
El Hombre is about as solid, practical,
and expressive as a humbucker-fitted
solidbody guitar can be. And while the
Japanese pawn-shop/’70s Fender/Firebird
fusion styling is bound to estrange some,
it’s a beautiful and balanced design that
has loads of practical merit and marks a
welcome departure from the more familiar solidbody templates. The alder body,
careful construction, and Lollar Imperial
pickups make El Hombre a great match for
high-headroom and smaller Fender-style
amps, which showcase it’s many harmonic
shades, and Vox- and Marshall-style circuits
that highlight its hot-headed, stinging and
At $1,650, El Hombre is hardly a
bargain-priced instrument. But it matches
up or exceeds the performance of a lot of
comparably configured and comparably
priced humbucker-equipped solidbodies.
And given how good this guitar sounds
outside price constraints, it qualifies it’s
worth every bit of the coin if you can
excellent string-to-string definition make
the guitar a dream for jangly arpeggios
and speedy lead work that benefit from
great from a more focused sonic picture.
Encounters with pickups that are this
hi-fi and full of character are rare. And El
Hombre’s playability, balance, and attitude
invite you to dig in and explore every facet.
Rolling off the tone and volume a touch
doesn’t cost you much in terms of harmonic content. El Hombre’s alder body, the
Imperials, and some very responsive pots help
the guitar retain brightness and detail that
can help you work around vocals and dynamics within a song or arrangement without a
sacrifice in character. The combination of El
Hombre’s alder-toned personality and the
Lollars also create a slightly and pleasingly
compressed voice that also works beautifully
with a little additional pedal compression or
overdrive. Even if El Hombre gave you just
the bridge pickup to work with, it would be
an astonishingly colorful guitar.
The manner in which El Hombre and
the Imperial in the neck position match up
makes the guitar a superstar of versatility.
Though the neck pickup lacks a little of the
range of the bridge pickup (you lose a fair bit
of detail with the tone knob all he way back,
unlike, say a good 335) keeping the tone
knob somewhere between halfway up and
full enables you to explore a tone spectrum
that runs from bright-and-mellow Jim Hall
tones to slow-burn Peter Green zones.
Bil T Guitars
Stunning, harmonically rich, wide-range pickups. Excellent build quality.