Today’s post is a guest review of the Gaskell Limited Edition Firestarter and is written by Mark B. Davies from the UK. Mark currently plays lead guitar for ‘Mill Stone Grit’. This guitar is only available left handed, so if you like what you see be sure to check out the link at the bottom of the page.
Discovering the Gaskell website was like unearthing a gold hoard! Every left hander perpetually frustrated by the lack of any real choice in the guitar market can expect their jaw to hit the floor with the options available – especially to own a Firebird-style guitar! Furthermore, to then have a choice between two different instruments was incredible.
The choice of the LE was easy for me to make as I was tempted by the bluesy promises that it offered from its Wilkinson “mini-toasters” to complement the sound of Mill Stone Grit. My guitar came with a hard case and Kevin Gaskell provided a platinum set-up using D’Addario 009’s.
This is a magnificent beast. The mahogany is rusty red with a tight grain and a seamless transition from the neck to the body. Veneered in a sunburst flame maple finish, the body is glorious accentuated by the smooth lacquerwork finish. The rosewood neck with trapezoidal inlays are smooth and very comfortable to handle. The hard case has proven invaluable because it has prevented so many knocks – this is not a guitar that can be idly left propped up against the wall, furniture etc! Watching my son (another lefty) play it on stage allowed me to listen to the reaction from some of the crowd to him playing the LE – “where did he get that great guitar?”!!!
Any lefty can only read about how a Firebird sits when strapped on. The laws of physics mean they are neck heavy. However, the smaller Firestarter headstock reduces what would be a wrestle with anything Gibson make for Northpaws. Nonetheless, the tension forces on the strap pin must be immense and its worthwhile staying vigilant for loosening and acting early if it happens. Unlike other Firebird-style guitars, the Firestarter is not a heavy guitar and playing for a couple of hours doesn’t leave sore shoulders, simply bleeding fingertips! After a couple of hours, what also impresses me is the ability of the guitar to maintain its tuning suggesting the strength and stability of the build.
I play the LE with either a Peavey Delta blues or a Fender Deluxe 112 amplifier. With both amps, the LE sounds absolutely terrific – really meeting my expectations for the bluesy sounds but also with the drive on, able to whack out some real heavy, blistering growls. The low action and 009 strings set up by Kevin allows fluid transition from soloing and easy hammer-ons to playing all chord shapes with no fear of fret buzz.
The LE Firestarter is comfortably the best lefty guitar I have ever played – it has that look, that feel and that sound. This is simply a gift from a visionary left-handed luthier to an enthusiast. This is not a forgettable, production line model slung into a cardboard box. From the sheer quality of the raw materials and their assembly to the detail of the platinum set-up, it is exquisite and, incredibly good value for money. Gaskell really does deliver a versatile instrument that matches expectations of a blues-inspired lefty. Which one will I get next….Retro?…Mmm..!
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