Looking across a busy mosh pit, with someone else’s sweat in your eye, you could easily mistake this little black number for an old-fashioned Gibson ES-335. Smooth and classy, the 335 is the ultimate semi-acoustic for lounge lizards and fusion freaks – but look closer at the Midtown Custom and you’ll spot some key differences. It’s slightly smaller, for a start; and seen from the side it’s flat, without the delicately arched top and back of a classic semi.
This guitar is not actually made like a 335 at all: its body is a hollowed-out lump of solid mahogany with a maple cap, bringing it closer in spirit to some of the recent ‘chambered’ Les Pauls. Its fretboard is made from a resin-based material (reminiscent of the type found on some Hagstroms) and the pickups are bluesy Burstbuckers. The Midtown looks quite dowdy in flat black, but the neck is elegantly bound and you do get large block markers and a split diamond on the headstock. Talk about mixed messages…
The clean tone is light and sweet, with none of the bloomy issues often associated with humbucker-equipped semis. You can’t go far wrong with Burstbuckers and there are plenty of tasty sounds to be found on all three pickup settings here. It does indeed start to get quite Les Paul-like when overdriven, so if you’re looking for LP tones without the LP looks, or indeed the LP back problems (this is heavier than the average semi, but not by that much), then the Midtown Custom could be an option.
Mesa Boogie Mini Rectifier, closed-back 2x12 cab with Celestion Vintage 30s
£1,099 UK, €1,255 Europe, $2,299 US
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