Channel Cat: (shortish scale length electric baritone guitar)
When I was first designing the Channel Cat model, I was thinking about early Elvis Presley recordings, The Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, Glenn Campbell, Dennis Coffee, and more obviously, bands like the B-52's and Duane Eddy. I was listening to all this new to me music and was blown away by how huge the guitar sounded on some of the songs. I had never heard my guitar sound that big. What, am I tuned too hi? I would think to myself. It was not until I asked my friend and at the time guitar teacher, Robert, how these guys made their guitars sound like this. He said that we should go to a guitar store and have a look at baritone guitars. I remembered seeing baritone guitars before at Mars Music and Guitar Center when I was a kid. I remember not having any idea what the point was. I do not recall understanding that the strings were lower in tune and larger in gauge. I obviously barely knew what a guitar guitar was at that time. This was now all changing with my friend there with me, pointing out the major differences. I did not pick up a bari that day. In fact, I never really thought much about them again until I started to really get into the B-52's and Dennis Coffee. Once I started to hear what people used them for I kind of revisited the thought. It was right around there when I suddenly knew that I wanted to start making baritone guitars too. I wanted them to complete the Lil Trees Line of electric guitars. I had a Tenor model and two six string guitar models and wanted the place between guitar and bass showcased. The Channel Cat was born! I knew it was going to be offset with a top mount pickguard and a tune o matic bridge. I was trying to imagine all the wonder and innovation that was in the air in the late 1950's California sunshine. I wanted to draw from that time period for the instrument’s aesthetic and identity. I did this because so many of the instruments from that place and time were designed perfectly for what people were trying to do. As I have mentioned before, I feel swamp ash is the most transparent and honest tone wood for the body and I needed its deep and wide tonal character for this, the new baritone model.
I knew I had the look of the Cat figured out. I knew it was going to share the headstock shape with its brothers and look very Lil Trees. To make it Feel Lil Trees I decided on an uncommon scale length for the baritone family of guitars, 27" with 22 frets. One will usually see the 27" scale on seven string guitars. I liked the sound of baritones but had never found them to be comfortable at all. Too long of a scale and too floppy of string play with conservative electronics and hardware. I did not want the Channel Cat to have any of this in common with other baritone guitars. The channel cat has a short, for baritone, scale length. I elected to do this because it lets the baritone guitar behave more like a standard guitar in its feel and attack. The other huge benefit to the 27" scale is the ease of chording. It is exhausting flying through chords on most baritone guitars for two reasons; the frets are far apart, and the second reason would have to do with the strings moving so slowly in play. This happens because of their super long length of travel and their being tuned much lower. I feel most baritone guitars must be played with the strings palm muted or strummed and left to decay. The strings seem to take too long to oscillate and are more difficult to play with at a faster tempo. I feel the Channel Cat has a few minor changes in length and neck angle that allow for it to be more useful and expressive.
For the neck wood specifically, I elected to use a lamination of both maple and mahogany. This is crucial information as Maple and mahogany both sound wildly different from one another. Maple has this maximum bass and treble with sparkle and pop. It is quite easy to hear each string in a chord. Mahogany has this warmth and subtly about it. It moves in your hand when you play and will color and blend notes into tones and produce overtones and feel alive. When a piece of mahogany is sandwiched by two pieces of maple, both spices retain their character and meet in the middle. When the neck wood is shaped to fallow the fingerboard taper; what happens is there will be more maple under the fingerboard at the body side of the neck than there will be at the nut side of the neck. This is beneficial because in the area where many notes are often played as chords, the mahogany will be there to let the notes blend and produce complex chord tones. As you move up the neck into the higher register, there will be more maple in the mix to add definition and bass to your individual notes and will give identity to your higher up chords and triads.
The Channel Cat comes standard with a complete TechBro pickup set. These are wonderful pickups that offer a player hum cancellation in all seven positions with all the lightness and grace of a moderate output pickup. The Tech Bro set is used in this guitar because together they offer a player more tones and versatility that any other set I could have used. Being a baritone guitar, this instrument does not need help showcasing bass. these pickups all have a small magnetic view of the strings. The three pickups are designed to be paired with each other, there is almost no loss of volume or any frequency range across any position. It is possible to have any one or combination of pickups on at any time. Offering the player even more control. The Channel Cat comes standard with a custom voiced Volume, Treble, Bass circuit too! So, when you have your favorite pickup combination selected, you will have the ability to manipulate the tone even more with the bass and treble knobs. This allows for a player to micro adjust their tone when the amplifier is set to a higher than practice volume and helps to recover certain tones when playing on larger or smaller stages in larger or smaller rooms. Very cool.
Body: One piece Swamp Ash
Neck: Three-piece maple, mahogany, maple.
Set neck construction.
Indian Rosewood fingerboard
27.0" scale length
22 medium jumbo frets.
Hand carved bone nut.
1-3/4" nut width.
15-degree head stock angle
Hand carved volute
Eastern hard maple head cap veneer
Handmade one-way truss rod (Installed with curved slot and hard maple fillet.)
The Channel Cat model electric baritone guitar is made standard with a one-piece Swamp Ash body. The Channel Cat has a fun and open look working in its favor. Having both top and back body contouring, open access to the fret boards upper register by way of the open horns; making this instrument quite easy to chord on. The asymmetrical and downright striking pick-guard shape really helps the instrument to identify itself as a total beast.
The Channel Cat comes with three made in house TechBro pickups and the standard Volume, Treble, Bass circuit with a 7-position dual toggle switch system.
Neck: TechBro.250 @ 8.25k
Mid: TechBro.250 @ 8.25k
Bridge: TechBro.300 @ 10.40k
Kluson 2-1/16" string spread tune o matic bridge with a Gibson EDS style top loading string through tail piece made by the Advanced company.
Guitar body will be gloss black and polished to hi gloss.
Neck wood will be clear coated in nitrocellulose lacquer and buffed to a hi gloss.
Head cap will be painted black with Lil Trees decal in gold.