Why Corsa Guitars?

Why Corsa Guitars?

Because SOMEONE has to prioritize tone

I had waited my entire life for someone to build guitars correctly for maximum tone. I got tired of waiting and decided to build them myself. Corsa Guitars is the product of my life-long quest to find the ultimate electric solid-body guitar tone.

After a life of playing Peter Green inspired blues music in bands across the East Coast of the USA I felt the need to obtain the quintessential guitar that would emulate Peter’s complex, harmonic laden, sustaining and powerful sound. I found such a guitar early in my music career but like many players, let it slip through my fingers. Along the way it felt like I played every Les Paul model in every era produced, including many Bursts I owned, as well as Peter’s original Burst (see YouTube Video #1 and YouTube Video #2).

Playing endless Les Paul guitars I was getting frustrated as I could not get close to perfect out of phase tone. As fate would have it, I bought a bunch of Les Paul models to continue my efforts to obtain my sought after obsession – the Peter Green tone. Along with a few Historics, regular Standards/Classics and several reissue guitars, I also bought a couple of Faded models. I was turning over a lot of stones looking for a gem. To my surprise and delight, the Faded sounded better than all other Les Pauls I played, including some original Bursts. How could this be? The cheapest Les Paul I bought sounded the best and close to Peter’s original guitar. I went into detective mode to understand exactly why this guitar sounded so good.

I realized that the construction features of the Les Paul model did not matter as much as what you did to the wood. The keys to the Corsa sound were in the Faded’s finish, or lack thereof, and in chambers in the body. Heresy for sure to Les Paul followers of blind faith. Not the band, but the “belief.” Once I discovered this, I researched and perfected the Corsa finish and body chambers. Finally, I designed a pickup that when in the out-of-phase middle position, would finally nail that Peter Green tone I had been chasing for decades.

When Gibson® decided to discontinue the Les Paul Standard Faded in 2008, it had abandoned the best sounding Les Paul ever made, in my opinion. Yes, that may come as a shock to the senses of Les Paul fans who frequent Internet forums. Myths abound about Les Pauls, and that’s fine and helps Gibson® sell more expensive models. However, in my opinion, only the historical aspects of the “originals” should be taken into consideration. The originals are no better or worse than any Les Paul made after that when evaluating “tone.” I have owned numerous original ’50s Les Pauls, and anyone who knows me knows that I have been a tone freak forever, particularly when it comes to the “Peter Green” tone.

Mahogany happens to be an exceptional tone wood. The only problem is, when you force grain filler into the open pores so that it can be finished “properly,” like a piece of fine furniture, you transform that exceptional tone wood into something entirely different. At that point, no matter what else you use to finish the guitar (nitro, poly, waterborne), it has already been compromised. Whatever tone characteristics the guitar will be left with is up to nature. Most often, a guitar finished this way will sound mediocre at best, with very little natural sustain and resonance left. Some small percentage, based on the math of statistics and the “bell curve” applied to guitar manufacturing, maybe 2% to 5% sound optimum even if produced using less than desirable manufacturing processes, and still produce an acceptable amount of resonance. Using the best build techniques and processes, you can produce guitars that sound awesome all the time. To us, it is entirely unacceptable for a player to be forced to play 20 to 50 guitars to find a “good one”.

This is where the Gibson® Les Paul Standard Faded enters the picture. A really low cost Les Paul. You could have bought one brand new from Guitar Center for $1,595 during their production run. Why were they so cheap? Because Gibson® used the “faded” finish, which is a less costly and less time consuming process in guitar building. They eliminated the grain filler and used a “satin” finish on the entire guitar, saving a great deal of time and money. Also, no buff-through flaws to fix, no non-uniform application of gloss lacquer. The result? A lot of cost savings. A guitar that could be sold for 60% or so of a Standard model and 30% of a Custom Shop Reissue. I’ve had more than 300 Les Paul Fadeds come through my hands and the one glaringly consistent fact about them is that they have substantial resonance and sustain 100% of the time. Compare that to a “regular” finished guitar, from any era or any with the so called, “things that make the originals sound better” and there is no comparison in my opinion. The Faded guitars sound better, a lot better, than regular grain-filled finished guitars.

So, while everyone else is using the same old finishing techniques that severely compromise tone, Corsa Guitars was born to build on and improve upon the legacy of the Faded. We use the same finishing techniques that were used on the Fadeds. As you may know, starting in late 2006, Fadeds were chambered, which not only made the guitars substantially lighter, but also increased the resonance and sustain. Corsa Guitars, after having seen X-rays of the Faded chambers, made a proprietary modification to the chambering which we now know adds even more sustain and resonance.

In conclusion, maximum tone quality, unaided by effects pedals, is not possible with traditionally finished guitars, except in rare cases and a totally “hit or miss” low percentage process. Perhaps many builders are not aware of this or maybe they are but think players want a guitar with a traditional finish more than they want the best tone possible. If the latter, we believe that is just flat out wrong, but financially prosperous to those builders. Why not educate the player about what to expect using traditional finishing techniques as opposed to an alternative method that will guarantee the best tone? A player may still opt for the traditional finish once he is aware of what to expect, and we can accept that. However, we will never intentionally compromise tone because Corsa Guitars has proven that maximum tone AND good looks are not mutually exclusive. We build great sounding guitars, not furniture. Compare ours to theirs and find out for yourself. Because life is too short to play a piece of entombed deadened wood.

Experience the Corsa Tone difference. Not only will you enjoy playing more, it just may inspire you to write the next great guitar song.