jones4tone

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Jun 24, 2016
Messages
988
Location
Texas
Sorry for the long post, but there was a lot to say about this one. :)

A couple years ago, well after I’d contracted MMGV (Music Man Guitar Virus), my son and I had the chance to catch a performance by Hunter Hayes at his label’s HQ. It was a set of 8-10 songs in front of a crowd of probably 250, and we were less than 5 ft from the stage. It was a great chance to observe his custom Cutlass guitars, which by then were, I think, very close to being, or perhaps were already, final prototypes of what would be released so far as the electronics are concerned.

There were several things that immediately caught my eye: hard-tail bridge, brass piezo saddles, a toggle switch down between the second and third knobs. We had the chance to talk to his tech briefly after the set, and he confirmed the piezo, but didn’t share a lot more about the changes from a stock Cutlass. He did suggest they were working toward a signature offering. I knew that day that I wanted one of these if and when they became available to purchase, so I did what any smart forum user would do - I called Pete DuBaldo the next day.

Fast-forward to January 2019, and on day 1 of NAMM I see news that EBMM has announced the limited release of the Hunter Hayes Cutlass. When I received confirmation from Pete that he had ordered me one, needless to say I was excited and looking forward to getting this thing in my hands.

So before anything else, a huge “THANK YOU!!” to Pete for being such an outstanding guy and serving his customers so incredibly well. I’ve seen him go above and beyond so many times, It’s truly a remarkable experience doing business with him. He’s never failed to deliver what he said he would.

I had several things I was uncertain about when I saw the actual specs on the H.H. signature model. First, with no tone knob, would it fit into what I play? Would the “neck blend” control be useful for me? Would I like the thinner neck carve?

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to play one in a GC in Nashville. We plugged it straight into a vintage Fender amp in their platinum room (I don’t recall even noticing which model, sadly - I wasn’t there for the amp), and I was blown away by the tonal range of the guitar. The neck carve, while noticeably thin, was very comfortable. In short, my anticipation cranked up significantly.

(IF YOU READ PAST HERE, MAKE SURE YOU READ IT ALL TO GET THE CORRECT TAKEAWAY)

Yesterday I saw those magical words “Out for delivery” when I looked at the tracking. I had to get through meetings in the afternoon without too much obvious distraction before I could get home and open it up. I grabbed my son, who’s a huge guitar junky also, and we broke it out. I plugged it into my main rig (a few pedals into a Kemper/interface/Yamaha studio monitors).

And then I was perplexed. It seemed overly bright, sometimes harsh, even shrill at times. I could find certain amp profiles (I use almost exclusively MBritt profiles, which are generally very well done) that might be usable, but I was really struggling with this guitar. I resorted to plugging into my 20W Blackstar HT Studio, and it was better there, but I was still scratching my head.

After hours of experimenting, I decided to make a simple, but as it turns out, fundamental change. The guitar came with M-Steel 10-46 strings, and I changed to 10-46 Regular Slinky strings.

And THAT was what I was looking for!! We were both blown away by how much of a difference a set of strings could make. The guitar was now what I would call very well balanced, and an absolute joy to play. I obviously don’t have Hunter’s rig (or his fingers/ability) so the M-Steels may work fantastically well for him as a lead guitarist fronting his own act. For me, playing mostly rhythm in a band context, the Slinkys are without question the way to go for my ears and rig. (Another possible factor here is that we long ago switched my son’s Cutlass from the stock 9-46 M-Steel to the 9-46 hybrid Slinky set, so I’m accustomed to that tone from his guitar, also.)

Bottom line: The Hunter Hayes guitar is an absolute home-run from the Hunter/EBMM collaboration! The pickups are great. They are clearly different from standard Cutlass singles, but I need more time comparing them to feel comfortable trying to describe how they differ in tone/output. The versatility afforded by the neck-blend is remarkable. Having played my son’s Cutlass a lot over the years, I prefer the vintage bridge on the H.H. model for palm-muting near the saddles. The neck is very comfortable. The piezo into the right amp is great, and I’ll blend it in at times, I’m sure.

I absolutely expect I will be playing the fool out of this guitar for a very long time.

I’m honestly amazed that this is the first NGD post for one of these. Last time I checked, there were still several of them on Reverb, and a few other dealers still had them available. Don’t sleep on the Hunter Hayes Cutlass! It’s a great option, especially if you like hard-tails as I generally do.

I’ll try to get some better photos soon, but it will be a little while before I have time to do so. Capturing the color on this one is tricky - somewhere between medium blue and turquoise is the truth - but here are a few I took with my phone in a room with a combination of both natural and artificial light.
 

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Fro

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Joined
Aug 17, 2012
Messages
776
How is the neck carve compared to a stock Cutlass? Is it the same?
 

TripHazard

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Joined
Feb 17, 2016
Messages
1,172
Location
Nottingham UK
Beauty! I’m about to put my vintage turquoise Cutlass RS up for sale to part fund one of these. Got word they are coming to the UK, probably end of the year. Gonna get mine sold and whack the money down as a deposit
 

jones4tone

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 24, 2016
Messages
988
Location
Texas
Beauty! I’m about to put my vintage turquoise Cutlass RS up for sale to part fund one of these. Got word they are coming to the UK, probably end of the year. Gonna get mine sold and whack the money down as a deposit

Awesome - you won’t be disappointed!
 

oooogie

Active member
Joined
Dec 17, 2017
Messages
40
Location
Tempe AZ
I got one 3 weeks ago and have gigged it three times now. I also play through a Kemper with a powered speaker for stage monitoring. I love it. The tonal possibilities are endless but I find myself most often playing with all three single coils engaged and a touch of piezo to boot. So yeah 4 pickups all the time. I'm mostly a rhythm player but I can find a spot in the mix not matter what with this guitar. I recently sold my 97 Axis SS with piezo and was considering installing Graphtech saddles in my Cutlass and then I saw this model and pulled the trigger. Could not be happier. Still trying to figure out how the neck blend knob works but I end up playing with it cranked most of the time and it sounds great. Also love the oil and wax finish on the neck. Feels like heaven. 5 stars for this one.
 

Jp6Fanatic

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 28, 2019
Messages
79
Lake Tahoe Blue and the roasted maple neck is just an awesome combination. Also late to it, but congrats!!
 

Gizmo

New member
Joined
May 4, 2006
Messages
2
Guys, I‘m a new Cutlass Hunter Hayes owner, pulled the trigger on a lightly used one.

Now my issue: the typical dead spots (G string from 12th string up) are really really „dead“.

And the guitar overall has much less sustain than all my other guitars (strats, teles, Axis Super Sports etc.)

Is the very thin neck the reason? Did you experience the same little sustain?

And how is it missing the tone pot live?

Thanks a lot for your help!!
 
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