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Hutchins Shade 1 Red ltd edition
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Hutchins Shade 1 Red ltd edition

£425

Stunning limited run made by legendary british artisan brand, Hutchins..

this is what they say about it....

A twin pickup single-cut tone-blender that’s more that a little special

 Like the double-cut Shade II, the Shade I has similar roots: a throw-back to the simplistic, stripped down guitars that qualified as ‘student’ models back in the day. But despite its affordability it edges into boutique custom territory by mixing up the classic guitar styles and materials and coming out sounding extremely grown-up.

Again it uses a lightweight uncontoured alder slab body; the maple neck glues in and its shorter unsupported neck length, created by the single cutaway outline, combined with Hutchin’s very vintage-y, late fifties Kalamazoo-like neck profile, maximises sustain and squeezes out a little more low-end. It has a near perfect weight too, that not only balances on the strap but feels more akin to a fine old vintage solidbody – ideal too for those long practise sessions and gigs.

The chrome-plated fixtures and fittings all fall into the classic realm but remember the bridge here is fully adjustable – unlike those single-piece wrapover bridges used on numerous low-end guitars back in the day that are impossible to properly intonate. Another key point of the Hutchins design is the straight string pull over the nut to the efficient vintage-style tuners ensuring excellent tuning stability even with vicious low-position string bends; the angle-back headstock, meanwhile, means that there’s the correct amount of break angle for the strings over the nut to ensure a clean ring and sustain without restoring to string tress. The boundrosewood fingerboard goes for simple dot markers and chunky, well-fitted frets that let you get on with the job in hand. Above all it feels classic, vintage: it feels very familiar.

 It might have a single cutaway, hence its name, but the Shade I has two pickups: the distinct-looking hot PAF-like humbucker placed in the Hutchins ‘sweet spot’, a little more forward from the bridge than most, paired with a soapbar single coil positioned right at the end of the 22-fret fingerboard. It’s not hampered by a tricky switching system either, just master volume and tone separated by a 3-way toggle selector and, like the Shade II, a rugged metal-plate-mounted output jack on the guitar’s side.

And if the Shade II is all about direct sound, the Shade I centres on diversity. The humbucker kicks off in that similar bright-yet-powerful territory that’s a rock rhythm player’s best friend, especially for slightly cleaner power chording, while adding gain it still retains clarity and bite. Switch over to the soapbar and it’s – by design – quite a contrast: a smoother, flute-y voice that doesn’t mush out like many neck-placed humbuckers: there’s a clarity here that’s blues expressive and plugged into a smaller, cleaner amp its plenty plummy enough for those jazzy gigs. We all use pedals, right? Well, the Shade II’s clarity and resonance is a perfect match for dense modulations and delays while proving quite a chameleon for gnarly, garage rock-like fuzztone sounds.

Aside from being a perfect start-up guitar for the serious student, the Shade I will appeal to many a more seasoned player. It’s simple, to the point but with a range of sounds that span the decades and genres and a playing feel that punches above its class.

A guitar with personality, a real rock & blues guitar with an individual look & sound. Single cutaway guitar featuring one Hutchins Vintage 90 (HV90) single coil pickup and one Hutchins Vintage Round-sound (HVR24) humbucker. Hi-gloss Cardinal Red finish with tortoiseshell scratchplate. Set in neck.

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