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Landing atop the Anderson complex at night without lights to illuminate the helipad is no easy task, even for a skilled pilot who has had tactical night training. Fortunately, Adrian, from Guitar’s Etc in Tucson, Arizona, has…had tactical training, I mean. It is, of course, a requirement of all high-level Anderson Guitar dealers.
It is clearly apparent to those that read just beneath the surface that guitar building is serious business to us. The time and attention that goes into bringing a new guitar model to fruition is astounding—every last detail is refined until you can be completely sure that when you hold an Anderson in your arms you are truly holding the world’s best. Literally, astonishing sustain bounds from every guitar as it rings so resoundingly unimpeded that it feels alive in your hands—while effortless playability is known as the hallmark of the Anderson neck.
Adrian and Steve, from Guitars Etc, had come for this reason—to experience the Carved Top Atom—known as the Atom CT—in person. They know only too well that to tactilely experience an Anderson—to strum it, feel it and listen—is to never be the same again. You are lifted forever.
Editor’s note: That last statement sounded kind of outrageous, don’t you think? But there is no exaggeration about this Anderson thing, touch one—no kidding—so cool—personally changed my life.
As they walked into the complex from the helipad Adrian was also accompanied by the guys from Wildwood Guitars in Louisville, Colorado, Steve, Bruce, Lance, Troy, Brian, Jonathan, Phil and Ian—a pleasant surprise—we were delighted to see them all. Many times Anderson Guitar dealers will rally together to share their Anderson exuberance—especially if they can share the rental for a black stealth helicopter at the same time.
Standing in front of a plain white wall, all were cleared by the retina scanners, access was granted. The wall opened, revealing a turbolift. Doors closed, we sank beneath the surface of the earth, downward to a place that some say only exists in legend, others are sure it is very real—Anderson’s Underground Design and Test Center—part of the vast Anderson Guitarworks complex.
As motion ceased, doors opened once again revealing a large room lit with soft ambient lighting and lined with a vast array of the coolest amps found anywhere. If this wasn’t enough, the Anderson Guitar collection simply boggled the mind—guitar wall hangers and elaborate floor stands were full of all sorts of prototype instruments—all with the giant scripted “A” on the headstock—guitar heaven, for sure.
Center stage stood Atom CT, finished in a traditional Honey Burst—looking oh so vintage and oh so commandingly Anderson, all at the same time. A perfect look if you are to remain traditionally entrenched while stepping up, out and beyond in all aspects of performance. Chrome covered pickups shimmered in response to the spotlight illuminating this guitar’s swooping, graceful lines. For now, it was all about the Atom CT, for once we set our eyes on it there was no release.
Adrian, from Guitars Etc, picked it up first and strapped in. Music flowed seamlessly, and surrounded us all. He immediately proclaimed it, “Very nice, astounding in fact, I have never felt anything like it or anything nearly as good, for that matter.”
We could not argue.
Clearly elated, he courteously handed off to Steve from Wildwood Guitars. Steve began to play and did not say much…at first. He has always been a big Anderson fan and a long time friend—one of the greatest guys ever—just like all of those mentioned above. Steve alternatively likes to play guitars with a carved maple top, mahogany-based construction, shorter 24 ¾-inch scale length and tilt-back neck-to-body geometry, but has not had the chance to enjoy an Anderson this way, as we had not made one—until now—until the arrival of the Atom CT!
Leaning over the guitar intently, as if soaking in every atom of its essence, Steve played…and he played…and he played. When he finally looked up there may have been a tear—clearly enraptured in pure playing pleasure.
Excited, every one of our guests took the CT on a test run. All came back to planet Earth with the same joyous experience—for this style of guitar, there is nothing like it!
And then they asked…they had to…
“What have you done?”
“How have you done it?”
“Why is it so…amazing?”
“The elevated level of all Anderson Guitars has now been attained for a carved top, tilt-back neck instrument…astounding…every aspect and nuance is improved to allow music to flow freely without any distraction to redirect your attention away from your music—pure music, that’s what it is.”
Realizing Guitar of the Week was getting a bit long, Roy broke it down quickly and simply, by concisely outlining some of the Carved Top Atom’s most notable attributes:
• The smooth binding edge is not too sharp, but just right for playing comfort—especially when you take special note of the countersunk bridge and tailpiece. This allows the player’s forearm to rest evenly across the entire top of the guitar—instead of resting on only one point at the forearm and hand—much, much more comfortable to play when the entire arm is supported—it’s like the guitar loves you back.
• Specially made low-profile tailpiece mounting screws are smooth and gentle to the touch.
• And you can sit down to play—a nice change of pace—place it on your leg and it settles there all night, happy as can be.
• Because of the slightly lowered bridge, tailpiece and string height mentioned above, we were able to do it without pickup rings for a softer, smoother feel with no sharp edges near the picking hand—plus it gives CT a cool, cleaner, more muscular look.
• Also, the without-rings look gives us an opportunity to utilize a three-point pickup mount. Three-point permits precise alignment of the pickups to the string plane—something other tilt-back neck instruments can only approximate. When the pickups and strings are precisely parallel, increased fullness and depth of tone can be easily recognized.
• Although all Anderson humbucks are available for the Carved Top, and the standard H1, H2 and H3-series pickups do sound big, open and powerful, a whole new line of pickups, called the HC-series, have been formulated to emphasize an aggressive vintage tone that still remains very musical and sweet. To all that have heard the new HCs it is love at first strum. So appreciated, the HCs are already beginning to migrate into other Anderson guitar models. With all this integration, there is no telling what could show up at the NAMM Show this year.
• HC Pickups: Easily recognizable by their smooth chrome appearance, the covers work in tandem with the electronic secrets within to deliver wonderful, open, musical and aggressive vintage-style tones. Four versions are available for now:
o HC1- : thick but open, throaty and still beautifully clear neck application
o HC1: a little more thickness than HC1- while still remaining nicely open—for balancing with HC2 in the bridge position
o HC1+ : mildly aggressive humbucker with softly sparkling and warm vintage bridge tones
o HC2: saturated, smooth and muscular with clear, soft vintage overtones.
• Not heavy, like many guitar of this style can be, the Atom Carved Top usually weighs in slightly under 8 lbs, really easy to swing this one around all night. Editor’s note: If even lighter weight is a requirement, look to the regular Atom or Hollow Atom. With its flat-top design, it uses less wood and hence less weight.
• Of course any and all of the Anderson neck backshape choices and frets sizes are available for fast and free playability.
• And last but perhaps most important is how nicely and easily in tune the CT performs. Traditionally an issue that plagues this style of instrument for many others, Atom CT resounds with sympathetic overtones, lush in-tune intervals and harmonies. Talk about a joy to play, this one is THE ONE!
Everyone in the room spontaneously applauded. Adrian, from Guitars Etc, quickly raised his hand asking if he could take this Honey (burst, that is) home to his store for the gratification of all within earshot. With great love, all were in accord as long as we agreed to make more.
Of course we will.
The Atom CT must be shared with all who truly yearn for superb tone and playability from a guitar such as this.
We took the turbolift back to the surface. Facing our honored guests we thanked everyone for coming and then selectively Neuralyzed them, so they would only remember their enraptured Atom CT playing experience but have no recollection of the Secret Anderson Underground Design and Test Facility—necessary, of course.
Happy as can be, we all waved heartfelt goodbyes as the helicopter lifted off and headed for home, knowing good guitar tone is here to stay.
• MODEL: – Atom CT
• FINISH: – Honey Burst with Binding
• BODY WOOD: – Flame Maple Carved Top with Mahogany Back
• BODY WOOD BACK COLOR: – same
• NECK WOOD: –Mahogany Back with Rosewood Fingerboard
• HEADSTOCK COLOR: – Matching Gloss
• NECK BACK FINISH: – Matching Satin
• NECK BACKSHAPE: – Happy Medium
• NUT WIDTH: – 1 11/16-inch
• SCALE LENGTH: – 24 3/4-inch
• FRETS: – Heavy—Exclusive Anderson Stainless Steel
• BRIDGE: – Tuneomatic—lightweight
• TAILPIECE: – Stop Tailpiece—lightweight
• TUNING GEAR: – Split Shaft
• HARDWARE COLOR: – Chrome
• PICKGUARD: – N/A
• NECK PICKUP: – HC1
• MIDDLE PICKUP: – N/A
• BRIDGE PICKUP: – HC2
• SWITCHING: – 5-Way with Push/Pull Switch
• PICKUP COVERS: – Chrome
• PICKUP RINGS: – N/A
• SWITCH TIP: – Cream
• STRING GAUGE REQUESTED: – .010-.046 Elixir® with NANOWEB® Coating
• DESTINATION/LOCATION: Guitars Etc/Tucson, Arizona