Santo Guitar USA Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT MAKES A GREAT ELECTRIC GUITAR?
There are four major aspects of a great electric guitar;
1) the neck joint, 2) the wood selection, 3) the nut and bridge and 4) the pickups.
The neck joint is how the neck is attached to the body. It is very important to have a good solid joint because the vibration of the strings in the wood has to translate freely between the neck and the body. We use upgraded neck attachment screws and inserts and we custom shape each neck/body pair for optimum fit. This translates into more sustain, and a solid feeling guitar.
The wood selection will determine the overall tone of the guitar. The wood selection will determine if the guitar will have a bright punchy sound, smooth mellow sound or have a good balance of mid-range, high and low frequency tones. There is always a trade-off between weight and the tone of the guitar. American Swamp Ash has the highest density to weight ratio yet maintains beautiful grain patterns and overall tone. Grain patterns inside the wood also play a role in the way the string vibrations bounce off of the wood and are captured by the pickups. Air pockets and bubbles inside of the wood will also determine the overall tone of the guitar. This is why no two guitars sound a like.
The nut and the bridge are vital parts of the electric guitar. This is where the strings make contact at the top and the bottom. The better the contact (maximized contact surface area) the better the strings will vibrate and will maximize string sustain. This is why a string-thru-the-body style is used on our higher end guitars. The 90 degree contact area as the string wraps around the bridge makes for improved sustain and vibration.
The Pick-ups are critical to the sound and tone of the electric guitar. Pickups use a magentic field to detect the vibrations of the strings and translate them into a voltage signal and the out to the guitar amplifier. Magnetic pickups will vary in output resistance measured in k-ohms and usually range from 6k to 12k ohms. The hotter the pickup the more definition it can detect (less volume needed on your amp), but will also increase the noise of the guitar (i.e. ground hum, hiss etc..) Our primary pickup vendor is Seymour Duncan. We also get pickups from GFS primarily their split position vintage high output 1-coil humbucker pickups. We also like EMG active pickups for high gain players. We can usually put any type of pickup in our guitars, just ask us.
THE SANTO BODY
The type of wood selected for our guitars is a single piece of USA Swamp Ash. USA Swamp Ash is very light and dense at the same time with lots of full body tone, however it is very rare and comes from American southern state swamp lands of Mississippi, Louisiana and Northern Florida. We make all our ToneCaster guitars from USA Swamp Ash.
We color stain hand finish all of our guitars with several coats of clear oil and then three coats of water-based clear gloss poly for maximum protection and shine. This maximizes the tone of the wood and shows off the natural grain and beauty of the selected wood.
THE SANTO NECK
Our necks come in two wood styles: maple with maple fretboard and maple with a rosewood fretboard. The headstock includes our own proprietary cut shape. Nut width is either 1-11/16" with 22 frets and a full size 25.5" scale. We hand file each nut to match the string gauge and optimize the action height of the strings. We make sure the neck angle is optimum to fit the bridge when attaching to the body. Necks are attached with upgraded screws and inserts not simple wood screws. We use Grover tuners on all our necks. The frets are dressed, polished and edge rounded. We get our necks from Mighty Mite based out of Wisconsin.(a licensed supplier of necks to Fender) We also use robust roller string trees on all our necks.
We color stain and finish all of our necks with several coats of clear oil for maximum protection and shine. This maximizes the tone of the woods and shows off the natual grain and beauty of the wood. The Maple fretboards get a light coat of oil and polish.
THE SANTO GUITAR SETUP
The neck is checked for straightness with a straight edge. If the truss rod needs adjusting it is adjusted with care and precision. The action and bridge is set for lowest possible distance without creating any fret or string buzz. If any fret buzz for individual frets exists, each fret causing the buzz is filed and re-crowned. Edge burrs on the frets are filed and steel wool sanded for smooth and fast feeling of the neck. Intonation is done by hand using a precision chromatic tuner. Your guitar comes ready to play! This guitar setup alone is worth $100.