I have nothing but respect for the legendary rock guitar player, Tim Armstrong. This man has been part of Rancid, one of my favorite punk rock bands, for so many years, I could not imagine the band or my life without him. So when I heard he was endorsing one of the guitar made fender, a 12 string, I was delighted. I could not wait to see it, play it, own it and have fun with it. Let’s take a closer look and figure out what makes this guitar worth owning.
The body of the guitar is made in the concert style. This means the body, while almost as bulky as the dreadnought, is a little more comfortable to play by placing on the knee. The concert shape of the guitar allows for powerful projection, but is less biased towards the low tones, having an even resonance with all of the tones the guitar can produce.
The top of the guitar is laminated mahogany. The hardwood is notorious for its beautiful resonance with the low and mid tones and with a 12 string guitar looking to express efficiently, it seems like a good idea to bring emphasis to these tones. The laminated nature of the hardwood does take away from the sound slightly, flattening the tone, but does not harm the overall sound of the guitar. The back and sides of the guitar are laminated mahogany as well, exchanging sturdy construction for further enhancement of sound.
Keeping with the trend of the the rest of the guitar, the neck is a dark hardwood: maple. Overall mahogany is known for being a sturdy, yet lightweight material. Maple is slightly less lightweight, but more sturdy and just as good looking. The end result is that we get a bulky but lightweight 12 string guitar with a lot of dark character, both visually and sonically. The fretboard of the guitar is rosewood, always a good choice for any guitar.
The bridge of the guitar is rosewood, a good and frequent choice for many guitars. It continues with the dark character of the rest of the guitar, adding slightly more resonance to the low ones of the guitar.
The nut of the guitar is synthetic bone, a good material that helps keep the string buzz low and harmony well together.
The compensated saddle of the guitar is rosewood.
The tuning machine on this guitar is adequately strong, keeping the tuning in tact for long periods of time. It’s always nice when you don’t have to retune all 12 strings on a guitar, which is why I appreciate the strength in this tuning machine.
The guitar comes with a nice, if simple, electronics system. The Fishman Isys III system with a pre amp is rather powerful and adds the ability to increase projection on your guitar when you want to. The controls are few and simple, yet enough to provide you with the flexibility of sound you need.
The guitar also has a preinstalled tuner to help you with the pesky job of tuning the 12 stings.
Fender Hellcat Sound
While not as good as most of the 12-string guitars out there, the Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat-12 provides a newly starting 12-stringer with everything they might need. The tones on this guitar are warm, with a bias towards the mids and lows, yet with beautiful high tones as well. The projection is powerful, to say the least, and the electronics help when you do not feel like you are putting out enough sound.
While not the best guitar out there, but it definitely one of the better options for beginners. While not being as beginner-friendly as a 6 string, it is as friendly as a 12 string gets. Affordable, sturdy, and with a strong warm sound, you will definitely have a good time learning to play all of the strings. Definitely recommended, not only for the beginners, but professionals will find a good use for it too.
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