I just spent a wonderful weekend in Paris with friends. We were there to attend the “Vigneron Independant”, a trade fair for indepenedent winegrowers. But while in Paris I took the opportunity to visit Guitars Rebellion, where I met CEO Vincent Beinis and played a glorious Fano JM6.
The trip was the suggestion of friend and fellow bandmate, Sheila. As soon as the idea was out there my wife, Jane, was all over it. Jane speaks French and loves wine. For her, it was a no-brainer. I also love wine, but I didn’t get as excited as my wife until Sheila added that she would be staying with friends who had an apartment on the embankment by the Seine, just round the corner from a small guitar shop called Guitars Rebellion. I googled the shop and discovered that it stocked Fanos. Jane and I booked our hotel the next day.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a big fan of pretty much anything that comes out of the Premier Builders Guild workshop in Arroyo Grande, California, and have been keen to play a Fano Alt de Facto JM6 for quite some time – see previous blog post about the Fano JM6. This side of the world, Fanos are few and far between. There are only ever a handful in the UK at any one time and, as far as I know, Guitars Rebellion is the only shop in France to stock Fanos.
We arrived on the Eurostar at Gare du Nord in Paris on a Friday evening. First thing Saturday morning Sheila, Jane and I rocked up to Guitars Rebellion. The showroom stocks prestige brands and the boutique range includes (but is not limited to) amps by Victory, Suhr, Two-Rock, Dr. Z and 65 Amps; guitars by Fano, PRS, ESP, Knaggs, Suhr and Ruokangas; and effects by Pigtronix, Suhr, Strymon, Port City and Free The Tone.
When we arrived at the showroom I wasn’t sure how we would be received. The etiquette in France, even in guitar shops, tends to be more formal than in the UK. We’d made no appointment and on the outside of the shop there was a doorbell to press in order to gain entry. Nothing ventured, nothing gained – so I pressed the bell.
We were greeted with a “bonjour” by CEO Vincent Beinis, who welcomed us into his showroom. Vincent was charming and affable. My French is non-existent; luckily Vincent’s English is excellent. We talked about the shop, his range of gear and his stock of Fanos, which included an Olympic White, Heavy Relic JM6 with Tortoise Pickguard. The JM6 looked heavenly. It beckoned, and Vincent asked if I’d like to try it. Now we all know the answer to that one.
The shop includes a sound-proofed room for customers to test gear, and in no time at all Vincent had plugged me into a Victory amp and run me through its settings. Then he left me alone to enjoy myself.
The Fano felt and sounded glorious. The light weight Alder body was comfortable and sonically vibrant. The 60’s C-shape neck with compound radius (7.25″-9.5″) and Madagascan Rosewood fingerboard was a delight to play. The heavily distressed finish on the back of the neck had taken away all of the nitro lacquer’s stickiness. It felt naturally worn and would have been a joy to play for hours.
The guitar was fitted with Fralin P-90 pickups and a 10-position Stellatone ToneStyler, which is an option Fano offer in place of the standard tone control. I like crunchy tone with snarl, punch and grit. I also like to play a lot of open, harmonically complex chords. The Fralin P-90s didn’t disappoint. They delivered crunch and complexity with bags of detail. They also clean up very nicely if sweet, rich tones are your thing. I have never used a Stellatone ToneStyler, so was pleasantly surprised by the range of tonal options offered by the device. According to Stellatone, the 10-position control “shifts the pickup’s resonant frequency and adjusts the treble roll-off point in 1/3 to 3/4 octave steps.”
Videos: Adam Miller at Guitars Rebellion as part of Premier Builders Guild European Road Tour
Every component on the JM6 is top quality. As standard it is fitted with Fralin P-90 pickups, Gotoh Vintage Tuners, TonePros bridge and stoptail, and Jescar 6105 fretwire. Options include a Mahogany or Korina neck/body; Maple fingerboard; binding; Bigsby tremolo; and Lollar Imperials, Lollar Strats or TV Jones Trons pickups.
I didn’t spend as much time with the Fano as I would have liked. And it would have been nice to talk with Vincent for a bit longer. But Jane and I were due to meet Fran, a friend of Sheila’s, and head off to Père Lachaise Cemetery together to pay our respects to Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Edith Piaf. Sheila was off to Cité de la Musique – she’d been to the cemetery before. Alas, our visit to Guitars Rebellion was short, but it was a pleasure to meet Vincent and a privilege to play the Fano.
I had presumed that gear prices would be higher in Paris than London, and so hadn’t seriously considered making a purchase while at Guitars Rebellion. But once I got home I did a bit of research and discovered that Vincent’s prices are either comparable or, in some cases, depending on the brand, slightly cheaper than UK prices. So if you are ever in the market for a Fano and can’t find one in the UK, I can wholeheartedly recommend a trip to Paris. Vincent also ships internationally, if you are too lazy to travel.
Guitars Rebellion – Showroom
11 rue René Goscinny
Tel: +33 (0)1 45 86 49 80