Feline Lion Cub review

The Lion Cub is a deceptively simple guitar, with a set-neck, all-mahogany construction.

Jonathan Law set up Feline Guitars in 1997 as a Surrey-based guitar repair business that also produces high-end custom-built electrics. The Lion Cub is one such guitar, with an understated design that belies its quality construction and sounds.

Individual string saddles combine with an Earvana nut for the ultimate in intonation accuracy and a set of smooth Sperzel tuners keeps things stable. A Bare Knuckle Mississippi Queen is chosen because it’s a P-90 in PAF clothing. So you get vintage Junior-style tone, but there’s the option of installing a humbucker, Filter’Tron or whatever else takes your fancy in the future.

Under the metal shield plate are two Bare Knuckle 550K control potentiometers for extra brightness. A BK-branded Jensen paper/oil tone capacitor is wired 50s-style and the value is 0.015uF rather than the usual 0.022uF.

At 1.5 inches deep, the body is fairly slim. The neck is slim, too, and a heel chamfer eases upper-fret access. The gloss polyester finish is applied well and the build quality can’t really be faulted.

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In use

I’ve rarely played a well-set-up all-mahogany electric guitar with a set neck that didn’t sound lively, harmonically complex and resonant when unplugged. Throw in a wrapover tailpiece and it’s a simple formula that seems almost foolproof. The Lion Cub is exactly that sort of guitar. Some guitars of this type fall into the `one pickup one sound’ category. It’s fine if that sound is one you like and suits your needs.

But those who have experienced the thrills of a vintage Les Paul or SG Junior will know they can be very versatile. Fortunately, the Lion Cub follows the vintage Gibson tone trail. Versatility is dependant on two things.

Firstly, the pickup and volume control need to interact in a way that allows you to back off the volume while retaining clarity. Secondly, the tone control must have a usable taper, preferably connected to the output of the volume control.

The Lion Cub ticks all these boxes and the Mississippi Queen is a peach of a pickup. It’s microphonic, so every ounce of detail comes through and the pick definition is outstanding. With everything fully up, the Lion Cub produces a roaring chime laden with harmonic overtones. When you roll back the tone the darker grind of the midrange becomes more apparent and the sound gets closer to a nice humbucker.

You could even use the rolled-back tone for your rhythm sound and add cut for soloing by turning the tone up to 11 (yes, 11) ± maintaining consistent volume and amp-driving power. Conversely, rolling the treble completely off produces an absolutely convincing `woman’ tone.

There’s no treble bleed capacitor, but no clarity is lost when you turn down volume. With treble fully up, you can get jangle and even funk or country licks. Reducing the treble sweetens the sound without making things muffled and there’s so much woody tone on offer that, wherever you set the controls, the Lion Cub always sounds good.

I love the Lion Cub, although I could gripe about the nut’s sharp corners and the cream pickup surround. I’d prefer a chunkier neck with smaller frets, but those features can be specified.

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Key Features
Feline Lion Cub
• Price £2,200
• Description Solidbody electric guitar, manufactured in the UK
• Build Two-piece mahogany body with three-piece set mahogany neck, 12” radius rosewood fingerboard, Earvana nut and 22 frets
Hardware Tonepros wrapover tailpiece, Sperzel tuners
• Electrics Bare Knuckle 550K volume and tone controls, Bare Knuckle Mississippi Queen pickup
• Scale length 628mm/24.75”
• Neck width 43mm at nut, 53mm at 12th fret
• Neck Depth 18.5mm at first fret, 21mm at 12th fret
• String spacing 35.5mm at nut, 53mm at bridge
• Weight 6.8lbs/3.1kg
• Left-Handers Yes
• Finishes Polyester – you choose the colour
Contact Feline Guitars 0208 680 9131
www.felineguitars.com