I just bought a Koll Jr Glide. What can I say? I’ve died and gone to heaven. It’s the most extraordinary guitar I’ve played. The craftsmanship is unbelievable, the build quality outstanding and the setup is one of the best I’ve come across. Expensive? Yes. But you get what you pay for.
Koll’s are designed by master builder Saul Koll who established the Koll Guitar Company (based in Portland, Oregon, USA) in 1990. The Glide Series is built on behalf of the Koll Guitar Company by fellow master builder Gene Baker at the Premier Builders Guild workshop in Arroyo Grande, California, USA. The Koll Jr Glide is a top quality handmade boutique instrument, blending design elements that are both familiar and original to create something that plays and sounds as good as it looks.
Colour: Daphne Blue
Neck: Mahogany, Gentle V shape
Fretboard: Rosewood 12″ radius
Frets: 6105 (meduim jumbo)
Inlays: Pearl dots
Tuners: Kluson 3 per side vintage style
Nut: Graphtech Tusq/Man Made Ivory
Scale length: 24.625″
Pickguard: Tortoise Shell
Controls: Gold bell-shaped master volume and tone with a 3-way pickup selector switch
Pickups: Two P-90s by Jason Lollar with cream covers
Bridge: TonePros AVT wrap around
Strings: Gauge 10-46
Weight: 7 lbs 13 oz
Case: G&G Custom Hardshell Case with Koll logo inside and outside
The guitar comes with a full specification sheet, Quality Assurance Team sign-off card and instrument setup specs. The setup specs are invaluable and cover nut height for each string, string height for bass and treble, neck relief and individual pickup height for bridge and neck positions.
This guitar is designed and put together by some of the world’s best luthiers. So, as you’d expect, the craftsmanship and build quality are outstanding. The setup is superb and required no adjustment whatsoever. The guitar plays like a dream. I tried a Koll Duo Glide with a C-shape neck and found the profile a bit of a handful – I don’t have giant hands. I prefer the profile on my Jr Glide. However, when I got home and read the spec sheet I discovered that my Jr Glide has the optional “Gentle V” profile neck. I never thought I’d get on with a V-shape, but it’s fabulous. It is definitely a soft V.
The dense mahogany body (which is super thick) and set neck combine to deliver excellent sustain and a tone which is full, has pronounced lower mids and a punchy growl.
The Lollar P-90 pickups are key to the sound of this guitar. Koll offer Lollar humbuckers as an alternative, but the P-90s are beautiful. Through my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe they offer great dynamics and deliver a rich, fat, warm tone with exceptional bell-like clarity and a sweet treble. If you want bite and aggression, just run them with some drive and you’re in grungy, crunchy Indie/Rock heaven. They sound exquisite.
For me, the string spacing on the Jr Glide is ideal and there is a decent amount of fretboard either side of the E strings. On so many guitars I find that the E strings are set too close to the edges of the neck making it all too easy to roll the stings off the edge of the fretboard. No such problem with the Jr Glide. And the strings align perfectly with the pickup pole pieces.
The asymmetrical headstock bears a white-pearl logo inlay. The cool Daphne Blue finish that covers the body and back of the neck combines with the quirky offset body shape and headstock to give this guitar a retro aesthetic which has the vibe of American diners and hot rods of the ’50s and ’60s, and is reminiscent of surf rock guitars like the Fender Jazzmaster and Jaguar.
Koll guitars are rare. Sadly, outside the United States only a handful of dealers stock them. I travelled from Epsom to Stevenage to get my Jr Glide from the only Koll dealer in the UK – Coda Music. The folks at Coda Music were very helpful and spoke lovingly about Koll guitars and the other Premier Builders Guild brands they stocked, such as Fano. Friend and fellow band member, Vernon, believes that Epsom to Stevenage is not far to go for a beautiful guitar. Okay, it’s not Rio de Janeiro to California, but when you’re stuck in heavy traffic on the London orbital M25 on the hottest day of the year, it feels like it.
The guitar comes with a C&G case specially built for Koll. It has a plush tangerine lining and the Koll logo appears both inside and out. The case alone must be worth a couple of hundred pounds.
The Jr Glide retails for about £2,000. This might seem expensive, but you’d pay upwards of two grand for a Custom Shop Fender or Gibson. What you get with the Koll is something a little more exclusive. It’ll turn heads and it sounds fantastic.