2022 Desert Star Apache #DSA003 review and pics:

sonar1

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Date of manufacture: March 5, 2022. Reviewed March 29, 2022 by Steve Yetter (AKA sonar1)

Features: Midnight Black Pearl “foxtail” hand-rubbed nitrocellulose lacquer finish.
Guitar weight is 6.75 lbs.
One-piece Honduran mahogany, hand selected for lightness.
Honduran mahogany neck. Indian rosewood fret board with Jescar 47-104 fret wire.
Nylon 6/6 nut. Wilkinson deluxe tuning machines. Wilkinson aluminum bridge.
Classic Rewinds 8.5k P-90 pickup.

Other features:
12” radius fretboard. Standard Gibson scale length neck.
Wired “fifties style” w 500k CTS pots.
Dave rubbed Kiwi “Cordovan” shoe polish deep down into the Indian rosewood fingerboard and buffed it super smooth (like ebony).
Anna filled the surface pores of the wood with her crushed iridescent material concoction.

Then, Dave built up and hand leveled the finish of clear nitrocellulose lacquer to a mirror finish. A labor intensive process, masterfully done.

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The bluish hue is from the pore filler over the black nitro basic finish, The pore filler can be varied for various colors. Pretty nifty huh?

The neck thickness runs from 0.88” - 0.98” in a nice hefty “C” shape, with just a skoash more “shoulder” than a perfect C. As requested, and perfect.
Every fret is like a highly polished jewel! None better anywhere.

I’ve had fret jobs by Rick McKee, who along with the late John Teuscher, did The Doobie Brother‘s refrets.
Dave is world class here.
Edges and ends perfect!

Everything lines up and intonation is exactly spot on.

The Wilkinson deluxe tuners look a bit like Gibson-style tulip-deluxes, but with Fender style split posts. Light, smooth, and accurate. Thing hangs on the wall all the time and hardly needs a tuning touch up: just grab and play. Total system stability!

The setup from nut to bridge leaves nothing unfinished. I mean not a thing!

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The SOUND is exquisite. A pure clean horn-like fundamental with focus and plenty of throaty sustain!

Wide open it’s a spanky Esquire-on-steroids honking’ twang.

I can also get a backed off “acoustic flat-top” sound: the beauty of ‘50’s style wiring and the best components available matched up perfectly with this pickup. All usable sweep on the pots, and no hum (quality workmanship and well thought out use of shielded wire).

I once had a Fender Blonde piggyback Bassman (with the “presence” control), and a ‘52RI Telecaster.
It had a texture I refused to mud up with even a touch of reverb, and I usually like a bit of reverb at home!
I wanted NOTHING to mess with the pure straight-in TONE of that rig!

This Apache is the same way. It has such a great voice (no matter wherever I set the amp’s midrange) that I just want to bask in the pureness of its clean sound.
Yeah, it’s a snarling rock machine: but it’ll do Country like a mofo!
And any other style I care to throw down.

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It calls to me in its unique voice. I don’t want to play any of my lesser guitars. I now only want to play and hear THIS guitar. All the time. Anytime I feel like playing.

It has changed my approach to sound, and what I now demand in a neck.

The total exquisite playability and sound are marvelous. The slight asymmetrical body shape fits me perfectly and everything falls readily to hand.

Simple and elegant.

This is not my first rodeo when it comes to custom hand-made guitars: just the best I’ve experienced.

Kudos, Dave and Anna!

Want to know what you get with a custom hand-made guitar at this level?
Perfect functional art.

Desert Star Apache DSA#003. March, 2022

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AR
 
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Roberteaux

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Sweeeeeet, man! Gorgeous, even! :shock:

Happy New Guitar Day! :applause:

Wonderful gear review, too-- it was very interesting to read your perspectives, seeing as you do know shit from shinola and you've been like that for a very long time now. :hmm:

Man, it was great reading that... and realizing that you have scored the guitar of a lifetime... with that being true on more than just one level. :cheers2:

Love it, Steve. Holy shit! :shock:

--Robba :applause:
 

sonar1

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You done thinned the herd, Stevie..
I was in the process of cutting out some strays and imports anyway.

750sq feet keeps me minimal on stuff to trip over, especially with no leaders anymore telling me what I should have. Buh-bye “biz.”

Your effort really helped A LOT! ;)

I don’t miss ANY of the guitars I’ve ever had, now! Even grail guitars have come and gone, over the years, multiple times.

”Sorry boys. Meet the new head wrangler. Your services are no longer required. Junior, you can stay on as a hard-to-break spare for a while, just ‘cuz my daughter always liked your grain, and your neck is maple.”
 
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sonar1

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Sweeeeeet, man! Gorgeous, even! :shock:

Happy New Guitar Day! :applause:

Wonderful gear review, too-- it was very interesting to read your perspectives, seeing as you do know shit from shinola and you've been like that for a very long time now. :hmm:

Man, it was great reading that... and realizing that you have scored the guitar of a lifetime... with that being true on more than just one level. :cheers2:

Love it, Steve. Holy shit! :shock:

--Robba :applause:
Tks Robba
Yeah this checks all my boxes:
Superb quality
Superb neck and playability
Outstanding sound and materials.

Everything integrated and honed to perfection, without any slick gimmickry.
NO shortcuts.
The absolute antithesis of production driven values.

Yet not “over done.”

I’ve had a couple PRS guitars. Impressive build quality, and the big boys have had to keep up. That furthers guitars up a notch generally. Cool.

’Course, there WAS a time when all professional guitars (say, a Gibson L5) were attended to with such precision (and totally hand made).

But I prefer simple elegance, old school quality technology, and unassuming sleeperism, to glitz and flame maple.


Here’s just ONE of MANY “tells” about Dave’s attention to detail and how it matters:

When they decide at a factory to “roll the edges “ on the neck so it feels broken in, it TAKES AWAY playing surface, and the strings must be set narrower to avoid falling off.

Feels nice enough, but it’s clumsily done and you wind up compromising in ways that feel sort of inefficient. Wasted wood under your fingertips for the sake of not losing strings over the edge of the fingerboard. Sometimes ridiculously so.

When Dave finishes fret ends, it feels perfectly comfortable, yet steals nothing from the neck wood that makes it seem somehow clumsily wider than it needs to be. That’s precision. I notice it, and appreciate the mastery of presentation in the feel.

So Dave’s technique regains otherwise threatened precious thousandths of inches, the strings lie perfectly over the pickup pole pieces, and nothing has been lost for the sake of a quick factory rolled edges feel. I can feel things like this when playing.

The result is an extra level of precision neck feel, which translates into cleaner playing and more consistency -seemingly- in the player’s technique:
Less muffs while “going for it” and, taking chances, and not missing catching the trapeze and plunging tragically to the Circus’ dirt floor embarrassIngly.
Sorry for the purple prose.

I appreciate that the strings therefore are not set inside any more than they have to be to make the system work without embarrassing clams.
I sound better! And it feels unparalleled.

That -to me- is worth many drachmas (that cost me no more than a factory guitar that “tries” to be of this caliber).

My last L5 was made when Jim Triggs was the head luthier running Gibson’s Custom Shop, attempting to re-establish the precision of the Lloyd Loar era.
Nice ax, for $5700 used!

Sure never snarled like this tiger.
I don’t miss IT either.
 
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LtDave32

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When Dave finishes fret ends, it feels perfectly comfortable, yet steals nothing from the neck wood that makes it seem somehow clumsily wider than it needs to be. That’s precision. I notice it, and appreciate the mastery of presentation in the feel.

Steve, if you do nothing to the edge after sanding the radius into the fret board, it can bite. All that sanding sort of "hones an edge", so to speak. Player comfort for the neck hand is vastly important. Simply said, if it hurts to play, you won't pick it up. It will sit in the menagerie of other instruments that "sit there" or live in the case for one reason or another.

We want 'em played. A lot. So we "hot-dog" round the fret ends instead of bevel. And we score the bitter edge between top and sides between the frets with a cabinet scraper. Just a light scoring This way, we keep all the playing surface, but there is no "bite" to the hand. We do this on bound boards as well.
 

mudface

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Dave's fretboard binding with the nibs is also outstanding and far beyond any Gibson I own. Every one of my Desert Stars has outstanding fret work.

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Look how low those strings are..... a gnat can get his balls hung up on that low E string and a fret. And no buzz or choke. Talent right there.
 
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Haprom

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Desert Star Apache #DSA003 Is Truly One of the Most Beautiful Guitars I have ever Seen... LtDave,,, Your Craftsmanship Just Amazes Me More and More. To the OP,,, Enjoy in Good Health Brother...

 

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