NGD - Backlund Rockerbox DLX LTD

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by ZenGuitarist, Sep 25, 2020.

  1. ZenGuitarist

    ZenGuitarist Tele-Afflicted

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    I was originally just going to add to this thread since I now have the identical guitar, but I think I'm going to ramble on a bit so better that I start my own thread.

    I've been irresistibly drawn to John Backlund's guitar designs since I first laid eyes on one of his Backlund Model 100's. It was love at first sight. Ever since then, every time I saw one of his guitars, I would think to myself that I really ought to get off my butt and buy one to have for my very own.

    Then a couple of weeks ago John starts this thread talking about a Rockerbox bass and has pics of several of his guitars. That gets me all . . . tingly and I decide to check out Eastwood's site to see what they have on offer. Once I get there I look at the available Backlund models and I'm like a kid in a candy store. There's the Model 100, my first love, but at the bottom of the page is this really cool looking guitar, a Limited Edition Backlund Rockerbox DLX in a Black and Mint finish with Ebony fingerboard. How limited? Only 16 have been made.

    OK, I'm about to lose the TL;DR crowd so here are some pics. They're the same pics as the ones from the teaser thread I started in the Bad Dog Cafe.

    Backlund2.jpg

    Backlund3.jpg

    Backlund4.jpg

    and here are the specs you're probably most interested in:

    Body Material - Semi-Hollow Maple
    Neck Material - Mahogany
    Fingerboard Material - Ebony
    Finish - Polyurethane
    Neck Shape - Soft C
    Scale Length - 24 3/4"
    Fingerboard Radius - 12"
    Pickups - Custom Wound Double Coil
    Pickup Switching: Five Way
    Controls - 3x Individual Volume, 1x Master Tone
    Bridge: Floating Tune-O-Matic
    Tail: Bigsby B-30*

    This is getting long so I'll continue in the next post. You'll have to read to the end to find out how it worked out between me and my first love - the Model 100.
     
  2. ZenGuitarist

    ZenGuitarist Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm back. So lets get all of the bad stuff out of the way first. When I first inspected the Rockerbox after taking it out of the case I noticed that the knobs were a little crooked and the output jack was loose. Both easy fixes that took less than 5 minutes. I spent more time hunting down the right size allen key for the set screws on the knobs than actually doing the repairs.

    When I played it the only problem I found was that the volume pots acted like they were linear pots, not audio taper pots. I passed that feedback back to Eastwood but considering the construction of the guitar, there's no way I'm going to attempt to change the pots. I can live with it because everything else about the guitar is fantastic.

    Fit and finish is excellent, no rough fret ends, and the ebony board is silky smooth. The 5-way selector switch works in a logical way - N,N+M,M,M+B,B - and the volume and tone knobs, well you know what those are for. I tried all the selector positions and no surprise to me, my favourite is position 3, the middle pickup. I'm also a position 3 kind of guy when I play a Strat.

    So what to play, what to play? Well, I can't play with anyone else because of you know what so I decide the next best thing is to pop in a CD and jam along with it. But which song? I remember that I posted a Tom Petty video in my teaser thread and if I was ever to play a set of nothing but Tom Petty songs (and who wouldn't want to do that), the very first song I would play is You Wreck Me.

    So I get my amp set to just the right amount of overdrive, in goes the CD, the song starts and Mike Campbell is nice enough to let me join in. Then I had an out of body experience. I wasn't playing with Mike Campbell, I felt like I *was* Mike Campbell - I was totally locked in the groove and had the perfect tone.

    Part of me is thinking this is fantastic and part of me is wondering WTF is going on here. But I go with the flow until - uh oh - the lead solo is coming up. I think I do pretty OK as a rhythm guitar player but I well and truly suck at playing lead. Time for Mike to give a helping hand, do the solo, and then turn it back over to me. The song ends and I am completely dumbfounded at what just happened, but dumbfounded in a good way.

    I could go on and on but I think you get it - the guitar is beyond awesome. I hit a home run with this guitar. Two home runs.

    So what about my first love, the Model 100? Have I jilted her? Of course not. I did a little clicking on the internet today and she's on her way to me as a mail order bride. I don't know the exact wedding date yet, but it will be soon. Then it will be me, her, and the Rockerbox - a perfect threesome.
     
  3. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    you lucky bugger , congrats!
     
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  4. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Afflicted

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    That is a cool-looking guitar. Of the few of his guitar pics I’ve seen here, the shape of the blue-meets-black line on yours, and the actual body shapes on some of the more radical models, makes me think John Backlund has spent some time admiring the body side molding on ‘57 Chevys or Nomads.
     
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  5. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think the Rockerbox is my favourite JB, too, but I like the red one.
     
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  6. ZenGuitarist

    ZenGuitarist Tele-Afflicted

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    That's what I thought too the first time I saw one of John's guitars. They have that retro look which I think is really cool.

    I've been thinking about what exactly it is about this guitar that makes me love it so much and the answer is - the neck. It conforms to my hand so perfectly, the ebony board has such a nice feel to it and when I play it I don't even feel like I'm playing an instrument at all - the music just seems to flow out of me and seamlessly through the guitar.

    I'm too shy to post a clip of my own playing, but this video by the great RJ Ronquillo gives you a good idea of what the guitar is capable of:

     
  7. StrangerNY

    StrangerNY Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I like all of Backlund's designs, but if I was going to buy one the Rockerbox would be the one I'd lay down money for. The body design and finish compliment each other beautifully.

    Congrats on the new guitar.

    - D
     
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  8. stormsedge

    stormsedge Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I like it.
     
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  9. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Kewl!
     
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  10. StevesBoogie

    StevesBoogie Tele-Holic

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    Congratulations on a beautiful guitar. It's great to be stoked about a new purchase. Great, now I have another model to drool over!!! How is the action up and down the fretboard?
     
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  11. ZenGuitarist

    ZenGuitarist Tele-Afflicted

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    The action from the factory came set up just right for me and that ebony board feels so smooth when I'm playing. This is the first guitar I've owned with an ebony board and I had no idea they could feel this good. I haven't been able to put this guitar down since it arrived, it's that good. Usually I play a few of my guitars every day so my other ones must be feeling a little neglected by now.
     
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  12. StevesBoogie

    StevesBoogie Tele-Holic

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    Hey, this is great, you and I are in the same boat.

    I had been 'out of the game' for a while, but got back into guitars in Jan of this year before the madness started.

    Purchased a used Eric Johnson Strat of CL for a fair to good price. Great experience. Lacquered maple fretboard with medium jumbo frets.

    Got the itch for a Tele, bought a beautiful '52 AVRI from Wildwood. Roasted maple neck including fretboard and has a light satin finish (feels like it's unfinished but it is not). Modern tall frets.

    Got the itch for a humbucker sound, bought a beautiful Epiphone Les Paul Modern. Ebony fretboard with medium jumbo frets.

    I LOVE THIS EBONY FRETBOARD. My first guitar ever with ebony as well. It feels fast, doesn't it??? A buddy of mine once used the word 'slippery' but that's just wrong. It feels nice and hard and sturdy and fast and pure.

    As such ... the Epi has been seeing lots of love! LOL.

    Not only that - literally in an hour I am dropping off the Tele with a local luthier for a refret. As it turns out, I really dislike tall frets. He is going to refret with some stainless steel frets (Sintoms Stainless Steel Frets - .104" x. 041") ... which were the closest stainless steel frets that I could find that resembled medium jumbo.

    Now, why I am doing this? Turns out I truly love short and wide frets. But I have to be honest - part of me wants that Tele to play as nice as the Epi!!

    Sorry man, I ranted a bunch about me. But there are definitely some similarities. Enjoy that Backlund guitar, that thing is sweet!!
     
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  13. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

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    Those are great looking guitars! Any idea of the weight? Sometimes all that air in a semi-hollow adds up to a heavy guitar somehow, and I've always wondered what the weight is on these.
     
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  14. Deathray

    Deathray Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Those are sweet! One of Mr. Backlund’s best!
    HNGD!
     
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  15. John Backlund

    John Backlund Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    I've finally started to play the green Rockerbox that I've had for months, and I must admit that I quite like it. I never play my red, three-pup Rockerbox though, and that's because as a folky fingerpicker, I have issues with my fingerpicks banging on the middle pickup. I did, however, lower that pup down about as far as I could, but I still favor the green twin-pup Rockerbox, and the two-tone green is just so good-looking....if I do say so myself.

    The 'mint' green used on this guitar was, as far as I'm concerned, a manufacturer screwup, it was supposed to be a metallic slightly greenish-silver for that secondary color, but no one has complained and I'm getting used to it with time, and it looks pretty good this way too, so I'm now ok with it.

    If these models are ever produced again, it has tons of potential for other great color combinations.

    I think I may see about getting some chromed metal pickguards made for this model, something like that would go well with the retro-automotive 'vintage vibe' that these guitars project.
    IMG_20200626_105908182.jpg
    IMG_20200624_142451658.jpg
     
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  16. ZenGuitarist

    ZenGuitarist Tele-Afflicted

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    Mine weighs 7.6 lbs. but mine does have a Bigsby. I haven't used the Bigsby that much but I haven't experienced any tuning issues with it so far.

    Speaking to John's comments, I had to make a couple of adjustments to my playing style because of the third pickup. Let me begin by saying that I always use a pick, unlike John who fingerpicks. First, I frequently hook my right ring finger around the top E string as a way to help position the placement of my pick for certain types of playing. With the Rockerbox the middle pickup is exactly where I would place my ring finger so I have to consciously move my hand a little more towards the neck, between the neck and middle pickups.

    The second playing adjustment involves palm muting. On a two pickup guitar I use the bridge pickup as a guide for where to place my the edge of my hand. With this guitar I was subconsciously using the middle pickup as a guide, causing my palm to rest directly over the bridge pickup, with less than pleasant results. I just have to consciously remember to move my hand further back so that I use the bridge pickup as the guide on where to place my hand and not the middle pickup. It only took a couple of days to make those adjustments and now I do it without thinking much about it.

    As for the colour, well I like really saturated colours so I was a little disappointed with the pale mint green colour when I first took the guitar out of the case. But it's actually really grown on me and now I really like it. That shade of green gives the guitar that real retro '50s feel which I think really suits the design of the guitar. So no complaints here and I'm really happy with the looks. It's very sharp and distinctive looking.

    John, if you are thinking about getting chromed metal pickguards made then I think you know I would definitely be interested. I think it would be a noticeable improvement over the existing ones and the guitar is totally worthy of that type of upgrade.

    And finally, a big hats off to Eastwood Guitars. Their customer service has been fantastic and I feel like a truly valued customer. I've been chatting with their President about a few of their offerings, and he's already put my name down for something that is going to be super super cool but is still a few months away from being realized. That one won't be a Backlund design, but I wouldn't be surprised if I add more of John's wonderfully designed guitars to my collection.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2020
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