**Matt Olivo is the founding guitarist of extreme metal trailblazers Repulsion, whose Horrified LP ranks as Decibel’s #1 grindcore album of all time. Because we know that every reader ever plays guitar, we are bringing his print column to the Deciblog. In issue #121 Matt gave his feedback on Dunable custom guitars made by Sacha Dunable of Intronaut.
This month, Gearified takes a break from the mega-massive, corporate gear we normally analyze so we can give a scrappy startup a shot! Dunable Guitars began in 2012. Sacha Dunable, guitarist/vocalist of Los Angeles mathcore mavens Intronaut, is its sole proprietor/workforce. Which must be cool—he can be a dick to himself, take long lunches and give himself raises he doesn’t deserve, just like a real corporation! Anyway, he offers two different client-customized, hand-built models at a crazy low price (for what you get). He sent Gearified one of his “Yarnhawk” six-string designs, and this is what happened.
Under the Hood
The two-piece, walnut, double cutaway body is shaped like an evolutionary offshoot of Gibson’s hipster-hoarded SG design. Features include comfort cuts for torso and picking arm, a semi-gloss oil finish and a complementary all-walnut pickguard, with ebony wood binding. Electronics consists of a pair of Stonewall boutique-made pickups controlled by shared volume/tone controls selectable with a standard 3-way selector switch. The bridge humbucker can be tapped with a push/pull knob at the tone position. The 25.5-inch scale, wenge neck and fingerboard features a slinky u-shaped profile, jumbo nickel frets, Graph Tech TUSQ nut, Grover Sta-Tite 18:1 open back tuners, 13 degree reinforced headstock tilt, set-neck joint and all-natural wood finish. Other hardware includes a Gotoh TOM bridge and Dunlop strap locks.
The u-shape neck provides a slim setting from which to comfortably comp basic to complex chords. The Gibson friendly 12-inch radius on the fingerboard means it took our digits no time at all to get familiar with the playing field. The lack of finish on the neck threw us a bit at first, as it has a tendency to slow shred speeds. So, we switched focus on what this guitar does best: playing heavy, yet articulated rhythms with shimmery chordal departures. The string tension, action and intonation were set up beautifully. So much so that we didn’t even realize that we’d been playing with a wound G string for the first 20 minutes! It’s also worthy to note that the Yarnhawk came to us tuned to C sharp. At this low of a tuning, it’s typical to experience a dull-feeling, jangly guitar with no dynamics. Not so with this beast—now to plug in!
We decided on our Marshall Vintage Modern 100-watt half-stack as the benchmark for Dunable’s Yarnhawk. Reason being, the tone woods/pickup combo would likely yield more subtle tonal colors than this amp is known for. A high gain setting on the Stonewall Disorder humbucker (bridge) kick off the festivities in high style. As expected, the low end tone was quite clear and well-defined. Mid-range attack was punchy, but well-behaved, and highs were clear and glossy. An overall assessment at this point is that Dunable had designed an instrument with a balanced tone in mind. No frequencies seemed to jut out with a jagged edge on this (primary) pickup position.
The neck pup is a different story. Here we have a Stonewall P90. Switching to this in high gain mode is a bit precarious, as the P90 is a single coil. Shit-tons of noise will slap you in the face until your fingers get moving. To be fair, this has nothing to do with Dunable’s build—this is a universal rule when pairing humbuckers with single coils in high gain situations.
The tonal quality was styling, though. After dialing back the volume knob a bit, we jumped into some very satisfying blues/psych-rock stank riffs. P90s are known and sought after for their rude, dirty shrill, and this one delivers with a stuffed crust.
On cleaner settings, the pup selector went to the middle position to pair bridge and neck together. We utilized Yarnhawk’s handy push/pull coil tap switch to really bring out some shimmering highs, plucky midrange and hypnotic lows.
We give Dunable our stamp of approval. He builds a solid and impressive instrument for the post-metal/rock crowd. He’s also open to ideas, and very creative with his own. Lastly, but most importantly, he’s a pro player in an active recording and touring band. With the combination of his considerable skill and perspective, we believe this SoCal startup will establish himself as a respectable, sought-after builder.
(for reviewed guitar) $2,350
For more info on Dunable Guitars, go to: http://dunableguitars.com/