Some first impressions after New Can Day
Saw these a while ago popping up online, and when Bohemian Guitars started an Indiegogo campaign to get some limited customization going, I couldn't resist
. 150 bucks and some wait later, FedEx delivered it on Christmas Eve.
Bohemian Guitars makes several versions with different pickups - the original Surf Wax design is a centered P90, but I got mine as a 2x P90 design with a Les Paul-style switch. Some first impressions below.
These are marketed as oil can guitars, but safe to say that the body never served any time as container for anything. It's a sort of neck-through construction, with plywood reinforcement inside the (thin-walled) oil can body.
It's surprisingly heavy, which I attribute to the pretty massive maple (?) neck that has a rather traditional chucky profile. Close to an acoustic or a massive LP. The neck is gloss finished, not sticky though and quite comfy. The fretboard is some type of rosewood with some nice red streaking, equipped with what I would call "vintage" style fretwire (low, fairly narrow). Cheap but functional tuners adorn the headstock. The cheap but functional continues with the Tune-O-Matic bridge that looks like it sports a rather thin metal coat. The volume and tone pods seem cheap but do the job, turn nicely and are well-positioned.
It's definitely a budget instrument, as the price indicates (and made in China).
- There are tool marks on the fretboard and a few small notches in the otherwise nicely polished fretwire.
- The back is the electronics cavity and was slanted, so one corner was slightly bent up.
- The pickups came with covers that are the remains of the oilcan wall, but the edges were sharp as a knife so I took them off (also looks better).
- The truss rod cover screws are directly under the strings and make removing the cover a chore, the paint buildup underneath the cover is also telling.
- There were residues of buffing paste on the fretboard edges.
- The nut is a quick job and the slots rather shallow.
- The logo is glued on slightly slated.
- Cheap factory strings: the high E string sprung off after a few bends as the string unwrapped from the ball end.
But come on. 150 bucks and a unique design, that stuff is all excusable. Easy to remedy mostly and functionally not an issue. Some D'Addario .10s, some messing with the bridge height, a minor truss rod adjustment later, and its playing quite nicely.
Sound-wise, its twangy and somewhat gnarly with the P90 pups. The bridge PU is a tad bright but has a pretty strong bass response, so it can become boomy when not tamed with the amp settings or reduced volume pot. The neck PU is pretty decent, the pole pieces are right under the second octave harmonic and it definitely sounds like it picks up more overtones than the bridge. The new, higher quality strings definitely helped with overall sound and feel.
Clean the can sounds and strums like an acoustic, with good response and rings out well. Not the best sustain ever but ok. The bridge is a tad harsh, as expected, but also usable, the middle position tames it all decently.
Overdrive works nicely - I wouldn't call it a unique sound but a sound that would easily make you forget what the instrument is when hearing blindly. Not a shred guitar, but even some high gain soloing works pretty decently
. Hum as expected from P90ties.
The body shape takes some time to get used to. I still don't know how to optimally hold it sitting or with a strap, but works somehow. Strumming adds a percussive effect when hitting the body of course.
Overall, the neck makes it feel more expensive than it is, and once you get used to the somewhat awkward body shape, its a fine noodling instrument and quite the conversation piece. Coolest thing is that it comes with rubber feet at the oilcan bottom, so it stands on its own