Ok, so it’s time to start writing about guitars. The first guitar I’m gonna be talking about is my Bacchus Les Paul.
Bacchus? Never heard of them! Who are they?
Bacchus guitars are made by a company called Devicer, located in Nagano in Japan. Devicer also owns and make electric guitars and basses under the brands SeventySeven, STK and Momose, as well as making acoustic guitars with the name Headway and ukuleles branded Kumalae and Mabuhay. They also distribute Diamond pedals in Japan.
They started out as Headway in 1977, and produced high end acoustic guitars. After a few years they also started making Fender and Gibson electric copies under the Headway name. In 1991 they Changed the name to Deviser, and started making Bacchus electric guitars and basses, as well as continuing making Headway acoustic guitars.
The head luthier and mascot at Deviser is Yasuo Momose, who has been making guitars since 1964, and has been with Headway since the beginning. He is among the most renown luthiers in Japan, and is still building guitars to this day. Every Momose and Headway guitar made in Japan is built by people trained by mr. Momose, and he also does the final inspection of all these instruments.
Yasuo Momose working on a Momose Custom Craft
How are they made?
Bacchus instruments made in the Aska factory are made by hand, by skilled luthiers. The bodies are routed on an old style pin router from high quality woods. The tops on carved top guitars are routed on a CNC, but I belive the guitars branded Momose also has hand carved tops. Necks are cut using table routers and jigs, as is the contours. They are sanded and painted inhouse. There is a series of cool videos on Youtube from the Asaka factory, showing how well these instruments are built. Follow this link to see the videos on youtube.
But the prices are all over the place. Are they all made in Japan?
No, they are not. Bacchus also has their own facory in the Phillipines, and the also have guitars made in China. It’s easy enough to tell where the guitars made today are made by the series they belong to.
Handmade Series: These guitars are made by hand in Japan at the Aska factory.
Craft Series: Made by hand in Japan at the Aska factory
Global Series: Made by hand in the Phillipines
Universe Series: Made in China
Most models have the series written on the headstock.
Working on necks in the Aska factory
But your heading says Classic series? I don’t see that in the list above.
The Classic series was only made from 2011 to the end of 2012, while the list above only covers the guitar Bacchus makes today. They have also had a series called Live Road around year 2000 that is highly regarded. Both the Classics and the Live Roads were made in Japan. The new Global series, wich is made in the Phillipines, are also called Live Road, and the easiest way to tell the difference between the Japanese and the Phillipine version is to look at the headstock. The Japanese version will have the typical “open book” headstock whereas the Global series will have a softer curve on the middle part.
Ok, so your guitar is made in Japan. How is it specced?
The BLP-STD FM comes with a one piece African mahogany back topped with a full thickness flame maple top. The guitars from 2012 typicaly have nicer tops than the ones from 2011. It has a one piece mahogany neck with a rosewood fretboard, and is fretted with Jescar medium jumbo frets, the same as Gibson uses. The neck is set in the body with a long tenon.
It comes with Gotoh SD90-SL tuners, and gotoh bridge and tailpiece. The pickups are chrome covered humbuckers made by Bacchus, and is of really high quality. The neck pickup has a ceramic magnet, and a dc resistance of 14.7kΩ with 43 AWG poly wire. The neck pickup uses an alnico 5, and is wound like a PAF with 42 AWG plain enamel to a resistance of 8.1kΩ. The ones that came with my guitar was double white under the covers, but I don’t know if that goes for all Bacchus humbuckers. The guitar comes with a switchcraft switch, CTS pots and paper in oil capacitors. All cavities are shielded with conductive paint. Note that I have changed pickups and capacitors on my guitar, so what you see mounted on the pictures are not the originals.
Impressive! But is it put well together and finished nicely?
Oh yes it is! This is where the Bacchus really shines. It is finnished with poly, with a layer of nitro on top, and you can tell from looking at the guitar that the finnish is really thin. I don’t know how the Japanese does it, but they manage to paint with poly in a way I haven’t seen on an American or European guitar yet. The finnish is nice and glossy, and there is no marks from buffing or sanding to be seen anyway. It really look like a quality handbuilt guitar, wich it is. The inlays are fitted tight into their caveties, with almost no visible glue around them. Plastic parts are of high quality, and the binding work is exeptional. There is no bleedthrough of colour to the binding anywhere, wich is rare on any guitar with body and neck binding. The bone nut is cut perfectly, in the right hight without gripping the string.
How does it feel?
It feels solid. Being that it has no weight relief, it weighs 4.2 kg. The neck is thick with some shoulder to it, but it doesn’t feel too thick. It is well ballanced, and sits comfortably in your lap. The tuners and knobs feel good under your fingers, and there is no ratteling from the bridge.
And how does it sound?
Acousticly it rings like a bell. It has a bright chimey caracter to it, just like a good Les Paul should have. The neck pickup sound just like your typical A5 PAF and suits the guitar very well. The bridge pickup is hotter, and use cheramic magnet, but still has some of that vintage vibe to it. There is nothing wrong with it, in fact it is probably one of the best hot pickups I’ve ever tried, but I wanted mine to sound like a good ’59. I replaced the pickups with a set of Syndromet FX Imperial stout with alnico 4 magnets, and they really bring out the best of this guitar. Very rich sound with nice overtones and a tight, full bass. The stock pickups would probably have been better if I was going to use the guitar mainly for metal, but I figured the PAF’s would make it a better alrounder.
Well, here is the big question: is it better than a Gibson?
That depends on what is important to you. If you compare it to a Gibson Les Paul Traditional, the Gibson offers a few things that the Bacchus don’t have. One of these things i binding at the fretends, often reffered to as nibs. This is a feature on all Gibsons with fretboard binding, and is historically correct on a Les Paul. Deviser doesn’t do nibs on any of their guitars, not even the top of the line Momoses. Another thing that the Gibson has is all nitro cellulose laquer, whereas the Bacchus has a poly basecoat with nitro on top.
When it comes to hardware, I find no difference in quality between the Gotoh stuff on the Bacchus and what is mounted on a Gibson. The ’57 Classic pickups supplied with the Gibson sounds different than the original Bacchus pickups, but I wouldn’t say they are better. This is where taste matters.
The Bacchus has a few things that the Gibsons doesn’t have too. First of, the Blp-STD FM comes with a one piece back, whereas the Gibson traditional has either a one or two piece back. If you can find a Bacchus from 2012, it will most likely have a nicer top than the gibson too. Most importantly (to me atleast), the bacchus neck is set with a long tenon, whereas the trad uses short tenon. I also feel the fit and finish on my Bacchus is better than most Gibsons I’ve tried, and is up there with the Gibson Custom Shops I’ve played.
Bacchus Blp-std fm had a RRP of 1525 USD , while the Gibson traditional has a RRP starting on 2249 USD. I know I wouldn’t have traded mine for a Gibson at all, if it wasn’t a Custom Shop. Thats how good the Bacchus is.
This post was written while listening to Anekdoten – Gravity. Check em out!