NAMM 2016 Review: Sully Guitars '71 Model

Every once and a while a luthier comes along that does something different. Instead of recycling tried and true shapes, they decide to bravely step go where no one has gone before. Sometimes it's a flop, but other times it creates a distinctive new product that becomes the new "guitar crush" of many. Sully Guitars has done just that with it's '71 model, which is available in Student, Limited, and the flagship Trella editions. 

I first met Jon Sullivan, otherwise known as "Sully", through Stacey Sherman at RSP Entertainment Marketing. Stacey always manages to connect me with some of the most awesome people I've met in the music industry, so I knew when she said to me "Have you heard of Sully Guitars? You should check them out", I had no doubt that I would be meeting a kickass luthier that offered a high quality product. 

Sully Guitars had a booth together with Ormsby Guitars for their first appearance at NAMM in 2016. I had the chance to sit down and play the '71 flagship, the Trella. 

If you head over to the Sully Guitars website, you'll see the specs for the '71 model read as follows:

"The '71 features set neck construction, 22 stainless steel frets (nickel is available upon request), 25.5 scale (24.75 upon request) ebony or rosewood fretboard, slash or block outline inlays, dual humbuckers, Hipshot tuners, and your choice of a Tone Pros wraparound bridge, Schaller Hannes bridge, Hipshot non locking tremolo, or Floyd Rose locking tremolo. Body and neck woods can vary, but are generally Limba (Korina), Spanish Cedar, or Mahogany. Premium figured tops are available, of course, as well as a variety of finishes from solid colors, clearcoat only, oiled, and the unique '71 "blush burst." 

That sounds impressive enough, but we all know that actually playing a guitar is the best "spec" sheet there is. I had the absolute delight of playing the Trella through a 5150 while at NAMM and it's official: I have fallen in love!  Before I even plugged it in, I noticed the neck profile is comfortable and fast while being thick enough to offer an "old school" kind of feel reminiscent of Hamers or Gibson's of the 1970's. A couple of strums gave me the indication that the resonance of the instrument was absolutely stunning. If you've ever been to NAMM you know nothing ever sounds good on the showroom floor. But the Trella resonated with that distinct "sweet spot" sound before I even turned the standby switch to "on" and played through a 2x12 cabinet on both the clean and dirty channels. 

I can't say enough about the quality of the instrument in terms of the build. The inlays, binding, arched top, and killer headstock are all top notch and exactly what you'd expect from a luthier who has worked with and learned from the likes of Grover Jackson himself. 

Premier Guitar knows their stuff, and they were more than thrilled, just as I was, with the offerings that Sully brought to the 2016 NAMM show. You can see their feature on Sully's guitars in the video below. 

Most of us will never be able to afford a custom made guitar, or will instead foolishly opt for an off-the-rack guitar that costs just as much but is nowhere near as well made, just because of the name on the headstock. The fact that the day after I met Sully, I walked by the booth to chat and 3 of the 5 guitars he had brought to NAMM had "sold" signs on them gives me hope that there are in fact intelligent people in the world that can get beyond headstock worship and actually recognize when a guitar is absolutely phenomenal. 

I look forward to having Sully build me a '71 model guitar someday - perhaps when I am worthy of such a work of art as a guitar player, but I do believe it is the next "cool" shape that will overtake the music industry once people pick it up and play it, and the quality of the sound (which is what matters most) and tone can't remain a secret for too long once word gets out that there is something this great available to mere mortals like myself. Or perhaps I can enroll in one of Sully's guitar building classes and learn how to do it myself, but after holding several '71 models, I just want to get right at it and play!

For more information about the '71 or any of the custom guitars available to be built with your dreams in mind, head over to the Sully Guitars website and tell him Martina and Stacey sent ya. Once you connect with these phenomenal instruments, you'll thank us. Or not. But you'll be slaying dragons in the studio and on stage with one of the best guitars I've ever seen and played.

Sully Guitars '71 Trella