Hot on the heels of our review of B&G’s new triple-lipstick Helena model comes this stripped-back racing version of the design – carrying much the same intent, but delivering its sonic goodness via the more direct approach of a single bridge-mounted P-90.
While at first glance it would be easy to dismiss this instrument as a Les Paul Junior wannabe, there is evidence that a lot of consideration and expertise has gone into its creation. Check the one-piece mahogany body, which in this natural finish looks a bit like a 1980s Gibson Corvus might have done before the bandsaw got to it. The curves, contours and horns are beautifully executed and there’s a pleasing sense of pent-up brute force.
What is common to both guitars, however, is the absolute peach of a neck – there’s a vintage-feeling V to the carve and it’s fast, immediate and engaging from the first squeeze. The slim body makes this guitar a joy to hold both seated and standing, and our exploratory unplugged chords ring out with a joyful acoustic ‘sprang’. This is going to be fun… so let’s plug into a lightly toasted tube amp in order to have some.
B&G originally made its name with an electric parlour guitar, the Little Sister – which remains available with either humbuckers or P-90s – and it was the latter that this reviewer felt brought out the best in the instrument. That opinion is only strengthened by the visceral punch of the single-pickup Helena as we start off with some power chords up and down the neck.
Much has been made of the fact that the 1950s Gibson Junior range of guitars, although originally intended as a gateway drug to the much pricier archtop range, make for cataclysmically good rock guitars. B&G has sidestepped any pretensions that its single-pickup offering is intended for student players and has gone directly for the jugular with an exhilarating playing experience.
It’s a rare feeling that a modern guitar is a living, breathing thing straight out of the box. We’ve experienced it with the work of James Trussart, Nik Huber… and now with this B&G, which offers a beautifully organic quality to the note. The initial fast attack hits the sweet spot between crisp and velvety and the sustain is impressive. Add some overdrive and fuzz for a very nice time indeed.
Sometimes the simplest of recipes can inspire the most jaded of palettes. This is a ferociously good electric guitar that will respond immediately to your touch and hand placement – encouraging you to play like it matters. If you’ve dismissed the notion of single-pickup instruments as somehow being limited, then we urge you to spend some quality time with a B&G Helena P90 Bridge and try to exhaust its potential – you’ll be there a while.
- PRICE $2,799 (inc padded gigbag)
- DESCRIPTION Double-cutaway solidbody electric guitar, made in Israel
- BUILD One-piece mahogany body, bolt-on mahogany neck with 12” radius Indian rosewood fingerboard, 22 medium frets, bone nut
- HARDWARE Gotoh wraparound bridge, Gotoh open-gear tuners
- ELECTRICS Single B&G P-90 pickup, volume and tone controls
- SCALE LENGTH 25.13” (638mm)
- NECK WIDTH 42.6mm at nut, 51.4mm at 12th fret
- NECK DEPTH 23.5mm at first fret, 26.6mm at 12th fret
- STRING SPACING 36.5mm at nut, 52mm at bridge
- WEIGHT 2.9kg/6.4lb
- FINISH Open-pore nitrocellulose (natural)
- LEFT-HANDERS No
- CONTACT bngguitars.com