Casey Hopkins of Reverb names Frank Brothers 1 of the Top 5 Outstanding Boutique Guitar Companies at NAMM 2018. 

Frank Brothers named 1 of 5 alongside Shabat Guitars, Soultool Instruments, Prisma Guitars and Koll Guitars

Reverb_Logo_Orange.png

Excerpts from the article by Casey Hopkins is below. For the full article click here.

NAMM 2018 took place over this past weekend. Throughout the enormous music industry trade show, your humble correspondent roamed the halls and booths of the Anaheim Convention Center doing my due diligence. In plain English, I played a lot of guitar.

While monolithic brands like Fender and Ibanez came through mightily on a number of new models and initiatives, the real highlights of NAMM for me were the smaller boutique brands. With the ever-rising prices of household name guitars, the price/value gap continues to close between the base entries of those big brands and the offerings of smaller builders.

Many players are rightly realizing that a headstock is just a headstock and a classic-design is just that—a single design (and one of many). What it really comes down to is the guitar itself, how it plays and sounds compared to the cost.

When people hear the term "boutique," their minds may automatically go to guitars that are prohibitively expensive. The unfortunate truth in guitar is that the general cost of all instruments—boutique or not—are going up. In fact, you could say that boutique costs are actually more stable and value-packed compared to the big brands when you factor in things like innovation and the increased quality control.

If the price difference between a base "professional" model from a major company and a mostly (if not completely) hand-built instrument is within the range of only a few hundred dollars, why not save up the extra money for a one-of-a-kind boutique guitar of your dreams?

With that in mind, I went ahead with great pleasure (and blues licks) and found some of the most superb boutique brands in all of NAMM. All of these guitars are high-quality instruments that sound as nice as they look and deserve to be played by lovers of the instrument. There were a huge number of excellent boutique brands at NAMM this year, but the following guitars took the cake and then some during my one-on-one demos.


While we are on the subject of guitars that do the vintage-Gibson feel right, one boutique entry did a dirty number on this writer in an isolation booth at NAMM. I’m talking about the new Arcade model by Frank Brothers out of Toronto, Canada.

The Arcade is the second and newest model from the company (founded by three brothers) and is sure to wow boutique and vintage lovers wise enough to give it a chance. The build quality is superb and the feel of the guitar is definitively electric. It’s like the guitar equivalent of a sledgehammer and I’m pretty sure that if Malcolm Young were still around, he’d be a huge fan.

The Arcade (like the carved top and back semi-hollowbody brother Signature model) has a deadly double-cut ‘50s Les Paul Special feel to it. The main difference between the two is that the new Arcade model is a solidbody that includes a stoptail/tune-o-matic or wraparound bridge.

Like Soultool, Frank Brothers obviously takes influence from classic models while quietly reinterpreting their hallmarks. The results are aggressive guitars with tons of tone. At the risk of being hyperbolic, my first time playing Frank Brothers’ Arcade model was a raw and overwhelming experience.

By the end of my demo, I was sweating bullets and overcome with a rush of endorphins. Having had this type of experience within only 20 minutes or so of playing-time, it’s no wonder why many notable players including Phish’s Trey Anastasio have started playing on Frank Brothers recently.

If you are considering a Gibson CS (or a vintage double cutaway Gibson model) you might be better off checking out Frank Brothers’ solidbody Arcade or their semi-hollow Signature instead. Their custom-built guitars start at $2,950 USD for the Arcade and $3,650 USD for the Signature. To learn more about Frank Brothers, visit their website.