Winter 2013 Amp, Guitar & Pedal Tryouts with Charles Cilia

Today I visited the Winter 2013 Amp, Guitar & Pedal Tryouts with Charles Cilia that Top Notch Guitar & Bass put on. There were some serious amplifiers, pedals and guitars on display for all to trial. I checked out the pedals and had a quick look at some of the amplifiers that were setup in the rehearsal rooms at Tall Poppy Productions, but I was really there to see the high-end custom guitars. I was not disappointed.

Today I got to experience (and play) some Nik Huber and Charles Cilia custom guitars.

I’d actually never heard of Nik Huber guitars before, but as soon as I saw them I instantly wanted to know more. The styles and finishes on the guitars were amazing. They were beautiful to play as well. You can see a photograph of the Nik Huber custom guitar I preferred at the end of this article.

Charles Cilia I’d heard of before thanks to Jon Bloomer from Guitar Noize. Not only did I get to play a couple of Charles’ guitars, I got to meet the man himself and have him walk me through the setup on one of his semi-hollow guitars. More on that later. Firstly, I’ll mention the fact that the solid body guitar I trialled (photograph below) was awesome. It was easy to play, sounded amazing and looked beautiful. As good as it was, the semi-hollow guitar was the one that blew my mind.

Charles explained the guitar to me including the inclusion of the Piezo system (allowing for some serious and rich acoustic sounds). You’ll notice in the photograph of this guitar (last photograph below) that in the usual Les Paul position is a three-way pickup switch. That does exactly what you’d expect it to do. The three controls however are for volume and tone (the two controls to the right of the f hole) and the volume of the Piezo pickup (the control to the left of the f hole). The toggle switch next to that volume control allows you to switch from the humbuckers (bottom position) to humbuckers plus Piezo (middle position) or just the Piezo system (top position).

Apart from all of that customisation, you also have the ability to use the push/pull technology that has been applied to the humbucker volume control to switch to the single coil setting. The tone control is also a push/pull control which activates the guitar’s kill switch. The final killer feature of this guitar is the tone control itself.

Many tone controls will allow for minimal tonal variation before you hit the muddy tones often heard in a lower-end guitar. The tone in this guitar however has been setup so well that at all stages of minimizing or maximising the tone you hear crystal clear variation. So much so that when you turn the tone all the way down the guitar takes on a new life and almost sounds like it’s got a built in wah effect. All without losing its tonal quality.

Quite frankly, this is the most versatile guitar I’ve ever had the privilege to play. I was very glad I took the drive to Salisbury today.

Bernie from Top Notch Guitar & Bass should be setting up a small base of operations at Tall Poppy Productions soon I believe. If you’re after a seriously impressive guitar, I’d check out the Nik Huber and Charles Cilia range he put on display today.

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