Switch Ultima IV Signature
Switch Ultima IV Signature
Whenever I’m on the lookout for instruments I always check second hand shops. You never know what will pop up.
Usually, the good stuff never reaches the shelves, or if it does the price is proportionate to its perceived value. But not always. Once in a while something slips through that’s really worth something.
Yesterday on my way to Scayles and Sound Control I popped into Cash Generator, which is to music shops as muddy puddles are to waterfalls. In the window was one of the most garish looking guitars I have ever seen, which I recognised instantly from watching it on eBay many a time.
It was a Switch Vibracell guitar.
The idea with Vibracell is that it’s an analogue of wood, but much more stable and somewhat easier to manufacture. Peavey had this idea twenty five years ago, but they couldn’t find a cheap plastic that sounded any good. The T-15 that I bought in 1980-something (and which my dad recently rebuilt the body for) was meant to be a plastic guitar.
I have read a lot about how good the Switch guitars sound, and how great they are to play, so I was really pleased to have the chance to try the hideous yellow monster in the window, the black sparkly Telecaster wannabe and the (I kid you not) day-glo orange/yellow twin humbucker cheapy.
The story of these guitars is a little hard to pin down.
They are made in China at the behest of an American company (Switch), but whether they are shipped from the east to the States and then to Europe, or whether they come directly here I don’t know. A few turn up on eBay in batches of half a dozen at a time, but this was the first chance I’d had to see one in the flesh (um, plastic) and play one.
The Telecaster type was an Ultima 1 with two single coil pickups and a rosewood fingerboard. It played really nicely, but sadly the frets were lifting, and were somewhat ragged along the playing edge. That’s a real shame, because in every other respect the guitar was wonderful, and the bound neck is nice and easy to play. Asking price was one two nine GBP.
The cheap twin humbucker model was a bit too nasty for me, and I didn’t play it long.
But the weird thing from the window was another kind of beast altogether with an Ebonite fingerboard that sucked those frets to it like glue. No problems there.
The action was kinda high, and the amp the shop had to let me play through was terrible, but I could hear enough to know it was special. And at the price of two hundred GBP it was an absolute steal.
But I was looking for a bass, and might have to spend a fortune.
But then I found a great cheap bass, and I had some money left over (as it were). So nephew Craig and I went back to Cash Generator today and bought it (still in tune after hanging in the window all night).
OK, it looks hideous. It really does. But it sounds great. Back home after setting up, bunged through the V-Amp 2 it rocks bucketloads. In fact, I’m looking at the Schecter and I’m looking at this thing and thinking, “The Schecter is a thousand pound guitar. The Switch matches it at a fraction of that…… Hmmmm….”
I’ve played a lotta guitars over the last few months and I’m serious when I say the Switch is the best value for money I’ve seen in a new guitar. Maybe the Pacifica comes close if you’re looking for a Strat type sound, but you won’t find a better Les Paul imitator than the Switch anywhere for the money.