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Monday, December 22, 2008

Agile Cool Cat Prestige First Impressions

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I don't want to go and create an entirely new review at the moment but here are my first impressions after two weeks of using the Agile Cool Cat Prestige with the stop tail. I'll write a full review after a year of ownership or so.

Aesthetics
The first thing I noticed when I got the instrument was the great finish that adored its large sized body. The clear coat is pretty thick and does a great job of protecting the wood. So far, I have not been able to find any flaws whatsoever. The pictures on Rondo's website really do not do this instrument justice when it comes to aesthetics, in fact, it seems as if the pictures are of a lower quality instrument as the pictures portray chrome hardware while it's actually gold. If I would have to rate the finish, I'd have to give it a 10/10 as it rivals its more expensive competition; it's incredible for the price.

One little note for future buyers, the description and the pictures at Rondo's website are 100% off. The hardware is golden, the pick guard is a three ply piece instead of two plies and although the guitar's a blond, it has a reddish/orange hue to it.

Set-Up
This section can be kept brief as I think this guitar was set up professionally out-of-the-box. The intonation is pitch perfect as I measured it with my equipment. The lower E-string which usually suffers the most from intonation problems was spot on. The action on the instrument with factory strings is good, not too low and not too high, and best of all, no buzzing. I experience no cramping in my fretting hand, even with more complex barre chords. The only minor detail that I have to address is that the instrument comes with regular round-wound strings, while for a jazz-box like this it should have been set up with a nice set of D'Addario flat-wound chromes. But I guess that is a personal preference. I would rate the factory set-up a 9/10.

Sound
Acoustically, the instrument is not too loud (yet louder than my nylon Taylor) but sounds like a first-class archtop. The acoustic sound is reminiscent of 1940's vocal group backing instrumentals and I can't wait to use the acoustic sound for my recordings.

Amplified, this instrument reminds me a bit of a Gretsch 6120 that got a bit too friendly with a Gibson L-5 CES, this in that the neck position oozes that Montgomery jazz sound and the bridge is reminiscent of a twangy Chet Atkins recording. The bridge position is also perfect for getting that early Rock 'n' Roll sound like that of Eddie Cochran or Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Goode.

I expected to have to replace the pickups when I ordered but I was very pleasantly surprised with their tonal range and qualities. This does not mean that I will not replace them at a later stage but for now the combination is fine. I am actually considering a pair of Gibson Classic '57s but am not convinced since they already sound so good. If I had to rate the sound so far I'd say 9/10 as I've heard better sounding instruments (albeit at a stifling price tag).

Conclusion
You will not find a better hollow body for this price. Forget Ibanez' artcore series, Gretsch 5120s or Epiphone's line of hollow bodies. This instrument blows them all away. Before buying this instrument I tried a wide array of instruments, Epiphone Broadway, the aforementioned Gretsch 6120 and the very expensive Gibsons. Honestly, with some minor modifications to the pickups, this cheap instrument can rival the industry standard Gibson ES series and with better quality control it seems.

I've only had this guitar for two weeks and it has become my favorite electric guitar. Granted, you can't overdrive a hollow body too much but that's what the cheap Gretsch solid body is for. This is a jazz monster with some serious attitude at the bridge. Pick one up if you're a clean player and you will not be disappointed. Oh yeah, I've been playing for eighteen years if that's any consolation the the post's legitimacy.

Price paid: $479.95 + Shipping and Handling
Here's a link to the Agile Cool Cat Prestige at Rondo's website.
7:23 am - 1 comments - 0 Kudos - Report!
Comments
thr3ddya wrote on Jan 5th, 2012 10:43pm

01/05/2012 Update: So Ive owned this guitar for quite a while now, and it's been my main guitar up until about a week ago when I purchased a Gibson Les Paul. The Agile is still my main guitar for Jazz and smooth playing, but I needed a bit more grit for the harder stuff.

Having said that, for about 500 bucks, you really can't go wrong with this guitar if you're looking for a Jazz box. I still stand by the sound quality review, although the flat wound strings can really sound muddy on this guitar - and please keep in mind that the 9/10 rating is relative to other archtop guitars in its price range. I also never replaced the stock pickups, and I don't think I ever will since they sound very good for what they're supposed to do.

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