The Wish­list


Guitarist - - Contents - words Dave Bur­rluck Pho­tog­ra­phy Neil God­win

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

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