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Hufschmid Guitars Helldunkel
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Hufschmid Guitars Helldunkel
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julamarre0 julamarre0

« Simplicity, quality, beyond happy »

Published on 10/09/18 at 07:39
Value For Money : Excellent
Audience: Advanced Users
This Helldunkel (which you can see on the pictures below) is my fifth collaboration with Patrick Hufschmid. Before this one, we have worked together on a seven string superstrat back in 2010, a six string mockingbird-inspired in 2011, another six string superstrat in 2012 and a second seven string superstrat in 2014.

This could have been enough, but as my playing evolved with time, I felt the need (or the lust) for a guitar with a sweeter, more vintage tone than my previous Hufschmid, which are authentic war machines, as I required back in those days. I was also interested in this particular model, which is presented as a « stripped down » version, but with the same quality and craftsmanship in mind. This lower price is allowed by buying the whole hardware (except the pickups) from a single supplier, and by reducing the options available.

Thus this guitar has those specs :
- 25.5" scale
- Sapelli body, one piece, quarter-sawn (available in LP or Tele shape as well)
- Sapelli neck, one piece, quarter-sawn, with a « straight-pull » head design
- West African ebony fingerboard, all woods are FSC-certified
- Delrin® nut, which is a very high quality thermoplastic
- Luminlay® side dots
- 12" radius
- Glowbuckers pickups, handmade by Kent Armstrong, I will discuss them below
- Hipshot bridge and locking tuners
- Matte finish for a natural look and feel
- Standard tuning E A D G B E with 10-52 strings

As any other Hufschmid, this particular one was handmade by Patrick himself, and the construction is once again exemplary, machine-like precise. With a 3kg (6.6 lbs) weight, I can keep it on my shoulder for quite a long time without getting any pain. It is also very well balanced, even considering its thin body, which is thiner than my other models featuring a top. This is particularly pleasant as you can better feel the instrument as a part of your own body. The neck is very stable as well, and very easy to play, without being too flat on the back, but rather with a very natural profile that prevents any cramp or tension in the left hand.
Important thing to notice : the nut is perfectly adjusted which, along with the head design and the locking tuners, leads to an outstanding tuning stability. True story : I played this guitar for a cover concert in a bar (about 3 hours of playing), and I tuned it before the first song… and the last five ones, and only the G string had slightly moved down…!

Having required high-output pickups for my previous Hufschmids (I mostly play metal), I asked lower-gain, mid-sounding pickups for this one, for a sweeter, but also rockier tone. Notice that every Hufschmid, Helldunkel included, is fitted with « made to measure » pickups that are handmade by Kent Armstrong, a leader in pickup building, especially known in the Jazz sphere. So don’t judge those guitars by their pointy and punchy look, they can truly be tweaked to play anything ! This Helldunkel was also the opportunity for me to ask Patrick’s latest innovation : the Glowbuckers pickups. They are embedded into white epoxy, which contains a luminescent pigment on the top (visible part of the pickup). This gives the pickup a unique look, with a blue glowing in the dark, identical to the Luminlay dots. The visual effect is incredible, this is something you won’t see everyday, and people always ask me about this guitar and those pickups.
Interesting and useful detail : on a dark stage the pickups « backlight » the strings, so you won’t miss one again !

The tone is everything I was looking for : versatility and quality. I can virtually play anything from a warm and defined clean tone, to a precise and fat crunch, to a massive yet full of clarity overdriven sound, with every note sounding equally clear. The volume and tone knobs are also very efficient, and all those things combined with the excellent craftsmanship of the guitar make it very constant and defined.

Considering my needs, I plug it into a Fender Deluxe Tweed, a Hughes & Kettned Tubemeister or a Line6 HELIX (direct into PA). It is truly a kind of musical chameleon, and so easy to play that it quickly became my main guitar for everyday (I teach guitar, and play in several bands as well, covering many different esthetics, I keep the other Hufschmids for my progressive metal band). I use it along with a Vigier, which cost me almost the same price, without being as good, by far.

As you may already understood, I am beyond happy with this instrument. Its simple, yet refined look charmed me, just as all the little innovations Patrick is always looking for to make his guitars better and better after 20 years of research and experiments. As always, the human experience was perfect as well, with a lot of communication about the building process, and a lot of update pictures (some of them are featured below).

I sold a few guitars without any regret to afford this one. The price may seem quite high but it is more than ever justified regarding the quality of the instrument, and especially considering some companies offering more than average instruments for the same price… I made my choice, and I will again for sure !

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