Xotic may well be a new brand in the market place, as far as many guitar players are concerned – Some may well be familiar with Xotic pedals, which initially was the starting point for this small boutique USA company – For a number of years now, the likes of Anderson, Suhr and Tyler Guitars have all acquired a serious reputation within the custom built guitar industry – With the introduction of the Xotic California Classic XSC1 we now have a new member of this boutique club and no prizes for guessing the influence for such a build – Yet the Strat influence raises a valid question – How much better than a Fender Strat can you make a ’boutique’ Strat ? – I think if you judged a guitar based on its build quality and attention to detail, then make no bones about it, such boutique guitars are built with an impeccable attention to detail – Yet the feel, playability and tonal character will always be a matter of taste – Not just between brand A and brand B, but equally within the brand itself – Two Custom Shop Strats are not the same regarding the fine points of feel + tone – I feel that there is a purity of tonal character within many boutique guitars – Not a fault, but they can generally possess a crisp clear glass like tonal character, which will of course find favour amongst many players
When I first played this Xotic California Classic XSC 1 a few factors instantly stood out for me 1) It sounded so much more in tune – Play 2/3/4 string melodic chord passages around the fingerboard and it just sounds so in tune – Why this should be the case then I can’t fully say, as it is not just about the intonation – Those who play and are familiar with a PRS Guitar will know where I’m coming from 2) It is set-up with such a slinky easy action – effortless to play and responds to a very light touch, which certainly suits me and my technique – Very rarely will I come across a Fender Strat that is as slinky as this – Again a matter of taste and some players require a guitar that fights back against you – In which case I suggest a heavier set of strings and/or raise the action a touch 3) The tonal character is far more ‘organic’ and far more in keeping of what I’d expect from a Custom Shop Strat and indeed a vintage Strat – More crisp and glassy than the classic SRV tone, but you’d expect that with a maple neck/fingerboard – But overall the tone, is rich, warm, smooth and luxurious
Before I update you with a host of product details then I suggest it is well worth reading the following product reviews, courtesy of Guitar.com Guitar World and Music Radar – So click here, click here and click here for details – Please note that there is a good video clip of the Xotic California Classic within the pages of the Guitar World review – All 3 reviews are well worth reading – They support many of my comments and thoughts, as well as the overall ethos that such a boutique brand is all about
Additional info regarding this used Xotix XSC1 with a super cool sonic blue aged finish, from 2018 :-
- I selling this guitar on behalf of a very good customer of mine – He purchased it from Peach Guitars (UK’s main stockist for Xotic Guitars) a couple of years ago – The supplied spec sheet indicates that this is indeed a XSC2 – The difference between the XSC1 and XSC2 is either the conventional SSS pick up option or a ‘modern’ HSS pick up option – The owner wanted this finish with a traditional/vintage SSS pick up option, which was not in stock – So he acquired the correct Xotic RV50 single coil pick up and appropriate correct scratch plate and simply exchanged as required – An easy change, especially for an excellent guitar tech, that this owner is
- Otherwise the whole guitar is original, plus includes the spec sheet, certificate and deluxe fibre moulded case
- Whole guitar weighs 7lbs and 8oz
- Alder body with a vibrant acoustic voice
- Sonic blue finish – aged accordingly with plenty of lacquer checking as well as that ‘discoloured faded’ character – The spec sheet indicates a ‘medium level’ of aged character – This supports my experience of selling many Fender Custom Shop models – I’ve seen those that are barely aged and those that look almost like Rory’s Strat, so this is aged, but not seriously aged
- Flamed Roasted maple neck + fingerboard with that satin finish that is silky smooth and feels played in from day one – A similar approach to many of the Music Man models
- Modern C neck profile – according to the spec sheet – This is a touch confusing as it certainly doesn’t feel like many of the ‘modern’ flat C profiles that you find on many ‘modern’ Fender Strat models – It possesses that ‘traditional’ 60’s character with a rounded C profile – Measures .868″ around the top nut end and gently fattens out to .939″ around the 12th fret
- 12″ fingerboard radius – Favoured by the likes of Eric Johnson and Kenny Wayne Shepherd – Not sure I can tell the difference between 10″ and 12″ – But I can tell what feels right + comfortable Rolled fingerboard edges to enrich the comfort and played in character
- Jescar FW47104 frets – Overall you’d say these are within the ‘medium jumbo’ vibe – Looking at the Jescar fret size chart then 47104 frets are .104 W and .047 H – That compares very favourably to the Dunlop 6150 size frets (.102 W and .042 H) – As favoured by PRS so maybe explains why I instantly like the feel and playability of this XSC1 – So a touch wider and a touch less high than the popular 6105/6110 Dunlop frets that are favoured on many Custom Shop models
- Gotoh vintage style tuners with a simple locking option
- Raw Vintage bridge saddles and Raw Vintage trem springs – click here for the link to this feature on the Xotic web site – Raw Vintage are now owned by Xotic – Many players for a while now have chosen/exchanged Raw Vintage trem springs on their Fender models
- Xotic hand wound + voiced RV50 single coil pick-ups – Alnico V magnets + formvar windings – measure 5.24K
- Re-strung with 10-46 gauge strings and set-up with a slinky action that responds to a light touch
A quick re-mark or two with regards to the feel + tonal character – I’ve touched on this above and the reviews certainly give you plenty of input – The pick-ups are certainly vintage flavoured with a medium/low output of 5.24K – In my opinion this supports a clean or more subtle overdriven amp setting – Less is more maybe the answer – It doesn’t mean you can’t load the amp with sustain/gain – But with less gain you hear so much more expression coupled with excellent dynamics that respond to your touch – Caress and play light for a softer voice, or dig in and attack for more bite – So a very ‘vocal’ response as required – On a blues/light rock overdriven amp setting, then use such an approach in-conjunction with the volume pot to maximise the guitars tonal character and response – Roll off the volume pot a touch to find a more chilled out ‘cleaner’ voice for lush chord work and melodic cool licks – Then wind the guitar volume pot back towards 10 as/when you require a touch more bite, edge and attitude, so more of a turbo boost when required
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Guitars4You is not another corporate high street guitar store - My selection of premium grade guitars is about quality not quantity. Every guitar has been selected, inspected and approved by me, with particular attention to the set-up and playing performance. Every sale, phone call, email and mail order transaction is handled by me. A journey that is now over 40 years old, has fuelled my knowledge, experience, love, devotion and passion for exceptionally fine guitars.