Ghost Machine is a little ol’ guitar shop in Texas with the pedigree of decades in the field, using and abusing just about every brand known to players. As such, the guitars are built and meant to be played rather than be treated as museum pieces.
Master grade selections of wood are used primarily for 1-piece bodies (exceptions being neck-thru and so on, of course). Necks are maple with a flame I’ve not seen on other guitars of this caliber. Fingerboard options at this time are maple and ebony. When it comes to locking trems, only “Official” Floyd Rose is used…and not the Korean ones – side note, one of the owners knows so much about Floyds that he brought current FR staff up to speed on details and specs. Tuner selections are Gotoh and Steinberger.
One of the owners made his own guitars available for review. As such, the photos are of guitars that are stage-worn and not new and shiny. If you want a relic finish, some of the attached photos would be an indication of the possibilities. The ones I played were all fitted with Bare Knuckle Pickups models. Warpig bridge models, a Sinner single coil neck, a Warpig neck, and a Stockholm HSP90 neck. These models are all well-fitted to these guitars, and I was very pleased with the results.
Other attention to detail includes custom-made titanium string trees, custom-made metal cavity covers (available in copper, stainless steel and titanium), custom-sustain blocks (available in brass, titanium and copper), counter-sunk strap pins and pin placement (by request…see photos), custom placement of controls and jacks.
These guitars are made by hand and not by CNC. Necks are hand-shaped. Body contours are done by hand and can be customized as well. Neck pockets are tighter than Scrooge during the holiday season.
A really cool option that blew me away….fret market inlay options. Sure, you can get abalone. But the ones I played had coral or stainless steel or turquoise. Awesome! I saw a one-off neck that was done with a combination for a red, white and blue series of inlays.
Alright, you say? Enough with the specs! How do they play?
Dude, I was very impressed. The action and setup was one of those rare instances where I wouldn’t change a thing. Lemme put it this way…I’ve laid hands on guitars made by people that are given a renowned status, but they play like junk when compared to these. And that’s just the setup!
I played a series of super-strat styles, a V and a Ghost Bird (think of a Firebird). They were all very comfortable to play and they all delivered the goods. In spades. The AANJ on all the models allowed ease of access to higher frets and the necks were as familiar as a guitar you’ve had for years….no too thin or too thick or too narrow or too wide. These had a few different neck profiles and they were all an asset to playability.
Even playing unplugged, every model I played had a monsterous natural resonance that made every surface of the wood vibrate when played. Seriously, this is one of the rare examples of picking up a guitar and not seeing a need to change a thing.
As the owner’s stage guitars, the finishes you see here are mostly experiments or are made to accommodate his own preferences. The V (not pictured) had a glow-in-the-dark paint and graphic that is killer and a very unique touch for playing live.
Players see guitar brands come and go with this feature or that feature or some new gimmick to draw you in. There is none of that here. These are players’ guitars and it’s all laid out there for that purpose. The fit and the finish and the playability….it all comes together in that rare alchemy that hits on all cylinders.
Here’s a video of a pair of Ghost Bird models in action in a fan-shot live video: