At the end of their
demo, the guys show me the “Continually
Adjustable Neck.” Jeff Babicz proceeds to raise and lower
the strings in relation to the fret board. (I have since learned
that he really raises and lowers the neck in relation to the
strings.) He gets the sample guitar to have real high “slide”
action, then really low “Taylor” buzzy action, in a matter of
seconds. But here’s the thing…..THE GUITAR STAYS COMPLETELY IN
TUNE! I had to see it again! Even then I had to try it for myself
to believe it. You plug the allen wrench in the heel of the neck,
and just turn! Clockwise for higher action, counter-clockwise for
lower action. You can set the guitar up for exactly the gauge
strings you use, for exactly the feel you want….IN SECONDS. And,
you don’t even have to re-tune. (I don't like that super low Taylor
action myself... You really get better tone with a slightly raised
But…..what if I
can’t sell it?????????
Babicz and Carano
know, as well as anybody in the industry, that just having the best
sounding, best playing guitar is not enough. And more than
that…they know full well that having a guitar that looks “different”
is a big challenge. Everybody in the industry says they’re looking
for something “different,” then you show them something different,
and they all go “NO WAY, THAT’S TOO DIFFERENT!” (Arghhhhh. That
really gives me a case of the red ass.)
I always say,
"It's easy to build a better guitar; the hard
part is to build a better name brand." Building a name brand
takes money, and lots of it. People don't buy good products today.
They are all foolishly buying name brand, name recognition, and all
the BS hype that goes with it. (Don't get me started. I'm feeling
the makings of a rant bubbling up inside me.)
Carano tells me,
“There is nothing anyone is going to say to me that I have not heard
before………I used to sell guitars without headstocks, so don’t waste
my time telling me how “weird” this is…What? You don’t think I
already KNOW it looks weird?!?” (I’ve noticed Carano has gotten a
lot crankier in his old age….I’d like to think I had something to do
I once sold a
beautiful Ford Bronco to Carano….mint condition, …..but that’s yet
another story for another time. If you want to get him going, just
ask him about it! (Pretty Funny)
Weird is one
thing….but functionality is another…..and I can now say for
sure…Babicz has NAILED IT! These guitars sound and feel and perform
But………what if I
can’t sell it?!?!
Fast forward to
These guys have
been very, very busy over the last two years. They each quit their
six figure, Internet Tech jobs and went full time into Babicz
Guitars. And more than a few people have noticed. Important
people. People like Todd
Rundgren……………………………..….Earl Slick…..K.K. Downing……Howard Leese…..Joe
Lynn Turner…..J.J. French……Adrian Belew….and one of my all time
Huey Thomasson. And, oh yeah, Ed Roman has definitely noticed it...
And it hasn’t been
just the artists. (Notice how all the artists they have are
accomplished PLAYERS?) I couldn’t help but notice the press. Each
review was better than the last. The review by Teja Gerken in
Acoustic Guitar Magazine summed it up best when he said “One
important factor to keep in mind when playing the Babicz is that its
tonal character changes depending on how the neck is
adjusted.......it’s fascinating to hear how these adjustments affect
the Identity’s sound, especially when you consider that most guitars
require time-consuming detuning, saddle replacement, and retuning—at
the very least—to get the same result.”
Well, that’s all
well and good…..BUT CAN I SELL IT?
I just got my first
SPIDER….and better yet, I’m one of the very first US Dealers to get
Babicz’s new OCTANE.
Now…THESE I CAN DEFINITELY SELL!
The SPIDER is the
perfect acoustic/electric……..very cool looking in all black w/
chrome hardware. (These guys still have some Steinberger in their
blood.) It sounds just as great playing rock as it does when you’re
finger-picking. I can easily say it’s the most versatile
acoustic/electric I’ve ever had in my shop….and I’ve had them all!
The quality of the
SPIDER is impeccable: all solid Mahogany, very well put together,
killer sound which comes alive with the included L.R. Baggs Element
On Board System. No wonder Todd permanently retired his
Takamines….and no wonder K.K.Downing uses these as his exclusive
acoustic/electric, either in the studio or on stage.
The SPIDER comes
with a high quality TKL hard shell case with the most comfortable
figure-8 handle I’ve seen. Thankfully, Babicz and Carano learned
not to skimp on the extras. The guitar lists at $1195.00. I of
course will give you a great discount....All Solid
Wood….L.R.Baggs….TKL Case…….under a grand. I can describe the
SPIDER in two words….
Put it up against
anything else in its price range…its not even a fair fight!
outright ROCKS! Right out of the case (also very nice) this axe is
striking….beautiful black top over a stunning Mahogany body, with 2
Pearly Gates that scream if you want them to, or clean up real nice
if that’s what you prefer.
I will also make the
Black/Backs available to anyone who wants them.
I was instantly
amazed by the feel….there’s something about the way the string
anchors work that make the strings feel very relaxed on the fret
board. Players say that with a Babicz, it always feels like you’re
using strings one gauge lighter than you actually are. If you’re
using 11’s, they feel like 10’s, if you’re using 12’s, they feel
The sustain out of
this guitar is nothing short of unbelievable. Even when it’s not
plugged in….there’s a “feel” you get from the guitar….it friggin’
feels ALIVE. Plug it in, and you are instantly inspired. As with all
Babicz guitars….tweak the neck to where it feels just perfect for
you…….you just can’t do this on any other guitar.
The guys told me it
was inspired by Billy Gibbons. The story goes that Billy checked out
a SPIDER at one of the ZZ Top shows in Manhattan Kansas. Jeff Carano
was there to meet with Keith Urban, who was also on the bill, but
then had the chance to hook up with Elwood Francis backstage.
(Elwood is Billy’s long time tech and has worked for Billy for many
years in helping him put his legendary collection together).
Elwood was blown
away by the SPIDER, and brought it to Billy. Billy also loved it,
but said “acoustic guitars are bad luck for me. Get an electric
together, with all the Babicz features, and you’ve got a winner!”
So Jeff Babicz went
to work on his bench. These guys always wanted the electric version
anyway, and Billy’s encouragement was just the motivation they
needed. Babicz nailed it……this guy really know guitars, and
everything he comes up with has a purpose. Any doubts I had were
instantly gone after a few minutes with the Octane.
Elwood said that
“this guitar becomes part of the player”….that’s the best
description I’ve heard yet.
I’m taking these
guys a whole lot more seriously now. My buddy Huey Thomason has a
Shitload of great guitars, but he says he will not travel without
his Babicz Jumbo. Huey knows his guitars….so does Howard Leese….so
does Adrian Belew. There’s a reason they play Babicz….and now I know
what that reason is. ~ER