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US vs UK | Have They Beaten Fender At Their Own Game?!

Adam Leaver: June 23, 2023
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can this upstart from the UK build a better Black Guard than the Fender Custom Shop let’s put it to the test

[Music] Hi Sam from Guitar villager and today we’re going to compare this Atkin the 52 against this Fender Custom shot 53 reissue telly but before we do let’s talk a little bit about acting guitars best known for his acoustic guitars just like this one I’m holding here Alistair Atkins started out in 1995 as a one-man operation in a small Workshop hand building acoustic guitars his inspiration came from some pre-war Martins and Gibsons the guitars we all know and adore since then many guitars later and quite a few endorsements from high profile players Alistair Atkin has now over half a dozen luthiers working for him putting out over 350 guitars a year still in Canterbury and crucially still hand building guitars more recently Alistair and his team have turned their hand to building electric guitars going after some of the familiar Silhouettes and even some of their own designs too anyway that’s enough about the history of acting guitars let’s get back to the comparison first up how do they compare on paper the Atkin 52 has an a beachy body with a heel Contour whereas the custom shop 53 has a two-piece off-center Ash body the custom shop is fitted with a 2A flame cortisone Maple one piece neck whereas the Atkin while still having a call to sworn flame Maple neck also has a flame Maple fingerboard as well the Atkin has a vintage style ultra thin aged Nitro finish whereas the custom shop has just a heavy Relic Nitro finish in terms of neck profile the custom shop has a 54 style u which is quite chunky whereas the Atkin has a slim C profile neck you’re going to get 22 medium jumbo Frets on there with a 10 inch radius on the custom shot you’re going to see 21 medium jumbo Frets but this time with a seven and a quarter to nine and a half compound radius they both come with a 25 and a half inch scale length the Atkin has vintage style aged goto 510 tuners while Fender Custom Shop just call theirs vintage style they both have compensated Saddles ones from the Fender Custom Shop and the other is from goto the difference with the bridges though is that the Atkin has dropped sides on them the Atkin has a classic tea set of alniko 3 plane enamel wire pickups that are made in-house the custom shop in this case have used original Black Guard Telly in the bridge and a twisted Telly in the neck in terms of the control out they both have a three-way switch with tone and volume controls they both have CTS pots and a crl switch they have cloth wire inside the only difference you’re really going to find here is the Atkin favoring a hosco cap and Fender using their own vintage style paper and oil capacitor two noticeable differences you’re going to find with the Jack sockets is that the Fender Custom Shop has a traditional cut style socket whereas the Atkin has a more modern screw in style Jack socket on there also the truss rod adjustments on these guitars are at different ends of the neck right that’s enough of the tech specs let’s pick these up and check out the build quality the relicing and how each of them feel as well okay so we’re back to the old familiar the custom shop Telecaster here now let’s start about talking about the build quality of these guitars and you know I know that when we talk about build quality from Big manufacturers we do expect it to kind of dip at points you know in it to be a bit on and off but I’ll be honest with you we’ve dealt with custom felt guitars for years and they are always on point so when I check this guitar out there was nothing at all here that I didn’t think was pretty much perfect on there

in terms of the relicing and this is something that I think Fender have been very clever with when you check out any Fender Custom Shop guitar they’ve branded it so well they do their own design so well that as soon as you see one you know it’s a custom shop Guitar it is really clever and one of the big points that they’ve done is this heavy Relic back of the neck finish which everyone absolutely loves I mean I love it I think it feels so comfy in the hands it’s really smooth it’s it’s like a satin finish on there really now in terms of the field this one does have a chunky neck so for me I think this is probably quite spot on to what an original early 50s Telecaster or Black Guard guitar is going to feel like so in terms of that Fender pretty much got it spot on [Music]

okay so over to the Atkin now in terms of build quality we’ve done a lot of acting guitars and the build quality is immense he really knows how to put a guitar together and this one is no different with the relicing this one’s actually a little bit more glossy than the custom shop however I know the custom shop does give you lots of options so you can choose different Relic levels and they do this new one Lush closet classic which gives you that kind of really bright Sheen to it as well in terms of the relicing on the fingerboard on this day it was something that really jumped out of me so this actually to me looks really genuine like an original Black Gun you’ve got kind of subtle lack of checking lines in there but there’s also really subtle little dinks in there that have been dirtied up really nicely and the lack of checking on this has also got that kind of Dirty Vibe to it as well [Music]

[in terms of the feel of the guitar it is very lightweight so this comes in at 6.3 pounds apparently that’s more to do with the wood these for the body the avici and also in terms of the net profile being very slim that does make it feel slightly more modern too foreign [Music]

right so we’re going to do a quick back-to-back comparison so you can hear both guitars we’re going to run into the house Cornell lamp we’re using uh one of the Duke of tone mxr pedals with a digital delay the dd-3t from boss I’m using a boss rc30 Looper as well you’re going to hear both guitars I’m going to go through a range of pickups on both as well let us know which one you think sounds best [Music]

cool at the beginning of this video I asked a question could this young up start from the UK build a better guitar than the Fender Custom Shop and the answer really is yes and no I think both guitars are going to appeal to two different crowds now the Atkin I think being a lot more modern feeling you know with some Modern refinements like a skinnier neck 22 Frets and this hill Contour on the back and with the range of tones it’s got is really going to appeal to someone that wants to take it out and gig it regularly and the custom shop on the other hand is going to appeal to those purists who want the fender logo they want all the little touches to look absolutely spot on as well so either way you’re not going to go wrong you’re just going to get a different guitar anyway if you do want to find out more about either of these guitars the links will be in the description below and as always thanks for watching


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