The Post-Modern Perfection of Novo Guitars
Posted by Robinson Earle on Nov 27th 2018
The Post-Modern Perfection of Novo Guitars | Midwood Guitar Studio
“Postmodern”, being an aesthetic defined by negation, is a tricky term to apply. I don’t do it lightly. In my mind, for something to be truly postmodern, it must be historically informed, but not retro, innovative without being futuristic, not quite modern, and not quite vintage. A post-modern guitar would be one that carefully combines characteristics and attributes from past designs with minimal consideration for direct emulation. For instance, to create a postmodern telecaster, one would need to possess a comprehensive understanding of the history and evolution of the model as pioneered by Leo Fender, and then set about building one as if the iconic guitar had never existed. Dennis Fano of Novo has done exactly this.
The three “Serus” models that they offer (J, S, and T) are sonic surf-boards, perfectly engineered for catching sound waves. Part Fender, part-Mosrite, and all slightly offset, these guitars combine some of the coolest features ever available with original touches all their own. Let’s start with the wood, specifically, the hand-picked, tempered pieces of pine they use for their bodies:
Pine is soft, lightweight, and extremely resonant. It was the original wood of choice for Leo Fender’s first teles. Fender stopped using it because they decided it was too soft and prone to “dings” for mass production, but it was still held in high esteem by those who favored tone over cosmetic perfection. Along came Dennis Fano, who was already known for his uncannily beautiful “relicing”, and the tonewood proved a perfect fit. The “tempering” process ensures that all the moisture has been cooked out of the bodies, allowing them to ring out like wooden bells.
The shapes and sizes of these bodies are more than just eye-catching. They balance with a strap PERFECTLY. Novo has seemingly reversed-engineered their instruments from the perspective of maximum physical comfort. If you were an action-figure, a Novo guitar would seamlessly slip into place as one of the included accessories.
Now let’s talk about the necks. These necks are as dynamic and intentional as your playing. They are hewn from tempered Maple and shaped into various degrees of “C” that offer ample meat in all the right places. The nuts are hand-cut, unbleached bone and the fingerboards are rosewood with rolled edges for that played-in feel. Naturally, the finish has also been worn down. Playing one feels like shaking the hand of an old friend.
The subtle details on these guitars are also some of their finest. The folks at Novo Guitars clearly possess an extensive working knowledge of available hardware. For each model, they have selected the bridge, saddles, and pickups that have proven over the years to be the best fit in terms of sound, intonation, and reliability. Even when Dennis dreams up a new configuration, the result is consistently inspired and eminently musical. These guitars are meant to be played.
With over 50 available finishes and the option to match any custom color, the possibilities for a transcendent, one-of-a-kind instrument are endless. Rather than unveil a slew of new models, Novo Guitars has chosen to do something much bolder. They have re-imagined the basic design of the most quintessential electric guitars. The results are staggering.