The first time we met Graham Skimming’s Lucem guitars was back in issue 419 where we introduced the modernist Paradox Custom, originally created for ex-Verve guitarist, Nick McCabe. His latest model, the Visceral was similarly inspired, this time by USA guitarist, Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs, who’d asked Graham if he could build a hollowbody. “I’d had an idea to do a hollow-bodied through-neck for a while,” remembers Graham, “and wanted to do something completely different so I saw this as a great opportunity to do it. I wanted it to be different yet something any ES-335 player would feel at home with.” The pictured Visceral is not a signature model, “but without that part of the story, and the inspiration it gave me, it wouldn’t exist,” Graham says today.
Refined and altered since the model he made for Greg, the Visceral has the width of an ES-335 but that’s about the end of any similarity. It is a through-neck design – which allows a virtually heel-less neck – with a solid Sitka spruce top. “The mahogany body is strategically hollowed out as much possible,” explains Graham, “to keep weight down without affecting the structural integrity. Supports of mahogany are left providing support for the top where it’s needed. The positions of scratchplate screws correspond with the mahogany supports underneath so they screw through into the harder wood rather than purely just into the softer spruce.”
Strapped on it feels light in weight (3.54kg/7.8lb) and with its flat top and back is less deep than an ES-335. The design, with its single Rickie-like slash soundhole, is less acoustically loud than a typical ES-335 but plugged in it’s way less susceptible to feedback, especially with gained amp voices where the Lucem ‘Northern Powerhouse’ hand-wound 12-pole F5 ceramic humbuckers kick out a huge sound, giving the guitar its name.
Yet it’s no one-trick-pony. Thanks to a versatile control layout, which includes a master volume, it cleans up extremely well and seems to hint at many a semi from yesteryear. Good to see British guitarmaking is still world-class.
The Visceral uses volume and tone for each pickup with an added master volume (nearest the bridge pickup). It not only allows quick volume adjustment, or swells, but means you can ‘preset’ the pickup mix. It may not be a new idea, of course, but it’s still very welcome 2
3 Lucem’s own-design 12-pole F5 ceramic humbuckers use additional “flanking magnets” in the bridge position. “Standard humbuckers have one magnet in between the two rows of poles,” says Graham, “flanking magnets go on the other side of the poles, repelling the central magnet, this increases the magnetic field from the poles and therefore adds a bit more power”
The tune-o-matic bridge here is Graph Tech’s ResoMax design that’s made from a proprietary lightweight ResoMax alloy and magnetically locks to the posts. The saddles are String Savers which Graph Tech state “virtually eliminate string breakage” and offer “a more balanced sound with sizzling highs, full mids and big open lows.” Sounds pretty much like the guitar itself! 1
4 Schaller’s Da Vinci tuners grace the classy headstock, which also includes a large volute to strengthen the nut area – typical of Lucem’s prolevel builds. By design the Visceral is “CITES free” with its 629mm scale ebony fingerboard and pearloid dot inlays