Sunday, January 22, 2012

My New Guitar: Peavey HP Special CT

This is my latest guitar, a Peavey HP Special CT. This is one of the finest guitars I've ever played. Along with my Levinson Blade, this guitar is proof that you don't need a Fender, a Gibson, or a PRS to get the highest possible quality in an instrument. This particular guitar is the brainchild of Hartley Peavey, the owner and sole proprietor of the Peavey Musical Instrument Company, and the only guitar to bear his name and signature.

The similarity to the EVH Peavey Wolfgang is no coincidence: while Eddie van Halen had an endorsement deal with Peavey - this guitar could be considered the evolution of the Wolfgang. The body shape is slightly different, but the same woods are used (birdseye maple for the neck, and an alder body with a thick flamed maple cap). The bridge is a solid, well-built Floyd Rose style tremolo that can be set (by means of a movable brass block inside the spring cavity) to down-only or floating.

Although the guitar itself is pretty impressive in many respects, by far the best feature of this axe is the pickups, which are hand-wound humbuckers designed by Hartley Peavey himself. They are splittable as well, by means of push-pull volume and tone pots, although in my opinion they sound much better in humbucker mode. These pickups are extremely high output, and have a clarity I've never heard anywhere else. Unfortunately, they are ONLY available in this guitar (I'd love to take them out and put them in one of my other guitars, but then I'd have no pickups in this one!).

The original retail price for these guitars was almost $3000, which is, I'll admit, a bit steep, especially for a guitar made by a company without a reputation for world-class instruments. And, although this is an exception, the price was too much for most, and very few of these made it to market. Nowadays, you can buy them used for around half that ($1500) on Ebay, in a shop that sells used guitars, or from someone who for whatever reason, actually bought one brand new. For this money, I'd say the HP Special is a great deal and can truly compete with anything in that price range.

My only recommendation for someone looking into purchasing one of these is to try and find one of the later ones that were made without a tremolo system, unless you a) REALLY love whammy bars, and can't live without one, or b) are a professional guitar tech with a ton of experience setting up guitars with Floyd Rose style tremolos. Otherwise, you will have trouble getting the bridge to 'float' properly while still achieving perfect tuning. If you set the guitar to down-only mode, there is an unpleasant 'clunk' noise when the bridge hits the brass stopper, and because of the hotness of the pickups, this can come through your amp when you don't want it to.

Overall, this is a great axe, and a very beautiful one at that. As I said to my wife earlier today, "this guitar doesn't make me miss my other guitars," and that's really saying something!

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