By Scott Auld
Dave Muselman at Jericho Guitars sent us a Fusion 6 Natural guitar to play around with. I really was taken aback at the high quality of this instrument. I have to be honest, sometimes it’s hit or miss when a lesser-known company sends you something. The fit and finish and attention to detail on this instrument are right in line with the biggest names in premium products in the industry.
This isn't your typical guitar. The goal of Jericho was to create an instrument geared for the studio and live professional who relies on absolutely perfect intonation, perfect tuning and absolutely dead-on playability. This instrument was designed with things like layering guitars 3-left, 3-right in studio, or the way touring artists frequently tune down a few more steps from their usual already-down-tuned setup in order to preserve their singer’s voice. The guitar would really shine for the studio engineer working with artists who need to work on ironing out their intonation from a heavy hand, or for a session musician pulling tricks out of his hat for a demanding producer.
This guitar doesn’t balk at all either in standard tuning, or to literally slap thick cables on it and play in Drop G - live. Those applications are vital to a smaller subset of touring musicians, and this is their perfect guitar. I don’t normally play that way but for giggles, I tuned a standard set of strings … I think these are 10’s … down to C Standard and the guitar played like it was in E, although a little loose in the strings of course. Intonation and thick drenched distorted chords never wavered.
The guitar is capable of both thick growl and pristine cleans. What really jumps out at you as you play it is the even response across the entire register of the guitar. Your open E and A strings are balanced perfectly with 7th, 9th, and 15th fret work on the higher strings. The pickups present a balanced output across the entire guitar, whether the Seymour Duncan pickups (Custom in the bridge, ’59 in the neck) are in normal humbucker mode or if they’re tapped to split into single coils. The pots rotate very smoothly and the pickup switch is silent and smooth. My only gripe at all on the controls is that the tapered volume knobs are hard to grasp tightly enough to pull up to split the coils. They’re just too slippery. I had better results putting a thumbnail under the knob to lift it up away from the body
Speaking of that body, wow! The flame in the maple top is just amazing. The caramel-colored finish (it feels like nitro to me) is dark enough to keep the guitar subtle but light enough to show off that amazing flame striping. The mahogany body is no heavier than my ’65 reissue Strat. And the light maple binding around the body is a super-classy touch. The upper register is relieved both on the neck heel and in the lower bout – I literally never ran into the body when playing up high.
The neck is a work of art all unto itself. The beautiful back of the neck not only looks gorgeous, it sits in a perfect spot about halfway between thin and thick. My hand never grew tired – don’t tell Dave, but I took this to three gigs and after each of the 4-hour gigs my hands never hurt - only my feet did. 😉 The blank fretboard looks great, no front markers for a clean look and the rosewood is so rich I thought at first that it was ebony. The side-markers are easy to see on a dark stage. The fretwork was flawless, the board felt very flat and the neck over all was very fast and smooth. A Black TUSQ XL Graphtech nut is made of a resonant Teflon-impregnated material specially formulated to deliver the right response across all frequencies and rich, musical harmonics come easily. Gold locking tuners and a flame maple headstock match the body and bridge for a classy look.
Jericho specializes in 7- and 8- string guitars. Jericho uses Hipshot fixed guitar bridges for excellent stability and precise intonation. Hipshot is one of the last remaining companies that not only designs, but manufactures their guitar hardware in the USA. Each Fusion 6, 7 and 8 string model comes standard with a Hipshot Fixed Guitar Bridge.
When I went over to the website to see some of the features I might have missed, I was taken aback that Jericho is charging about half of what I assumed the guitar would go for. You’re getting a modern hybrid of your big-3 American guitar companies, made of all-American components, with an eye towards detail that you hardly ever see anymore, and that’s all they’re charging?
Tuning requirements are complicated across multiple genres. Drop G is common among guitar-centric heavy rock. Jazz players tune to Fender Bass VI tuning which is 3 semitones lower than Drop G (E to E on a bass) on the low end. Jericho caters to these artists, and are used to shipping a guitar in Drop F# or something like that. All Fusion guitars get tunings and setups customized for the buyer before they are shipped.
Here are some videos of bands who use Fusion guitars:
A very popular indie band from Australia The Paper Kites using the Fusion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWF5_wdqQj0
A brutally heavy band using their Jericho: (in the studio, not the video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MHTy_dcSKE
An example of a modern rock band using their Jericho in the studio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCBPmxiVMKk
Each of these bands used a Fusion on their entire record. As you can see the guitars hold up well across different genres. Jericho guitars are parked at a lot of high-volume studios around the country – Dave says engineers love them.
I say it’s a winner.