Macmull Stinger Review: Contemporary finesse meets vintage tone
After spending the past decade building some of the world’s finest Fender-inspired guitars, the Macmull team turns its attention to a new design with Kalamazoo and California in its DNA.
We first encountered Macmull Guitars in 2019 and were wowed by the Jerusalem brand’s S-Classic and Heartbreaker Custom – finely tuned boutique variations on the Strat and Telecaster themes with a quality of tone and feel that lived up to their admittedly high ticket prices. Launched in October 2020, the Stinger is a Macmull model with a difference. A compact, original design, it’s described as a “workhorse” and comes at a more accessible price-point than the company’s other instruments.
It might be more affordable than its stablemates, but the Stinger still benefits from Macmull’s RVT (Real Vintage Tone) system, which sees grain, weight, age when cut, moisture levels and frequency response all taken into consideration when matching bodies and necks. Even the electronic components are selected with the stated aim of retaining the wood’s “basic predicted sound”. As Macmull’s Sharon Levi tells us, “Just like choosing the right mic for a specific person, we match the pickup set to each guitar individually.”
In the Stinger’s case, carefully chosen wood includes a lightweight black limba body with a very thin coat of satin nitrocellulose through which you can see and feel the grain. This is paired with an oil-finished, oval C-shaped maple bolt-on neck with a Madagascar rosewood fingerboard. The satin theme even carries over to the four-ply red faux-tortoiseshell pickguard.
“With rounded horns, Strat-style forearm and ribcage contouring and heavily radiused edges, the compact body is snug and approachable”
If you’re unfamiliar with black limba you’ll likely know it by another name – korina – and, along with the P-90 pickups, it’s one of several design cues that nods towards Gibson. Fender’s influence, meanwhile, is represented by the neck construction and ‘chopped Tele’ bridge with its etched logo and trio of brass barrel saddles.
With rounded horns, Strat-style forearm and ribcage contouring and heavily radiused edges, the compact body is snug and approachable. If you find yourself doing most of your playing in front of a computer – as so many of us do these days – its proportions are ideal. The satin surfaces and softened edges give the Stinger a seriously inviting feel, and this extends to the heavily rolled fingerboard edges that are characteristic of all Macmull builds.
“factory ageing is light and limited to the metal parts but it won’t be long before this thin Vintage White finish has its own unique patina”
On our review model, factory ageing is light and limited to the metal parts but it won’t be long before this thin Vintage White finish has its own unique patina. Should you want playwear to be given a head start, several levels of aged finish are available for no upcharge, while full gloss and numerous other options are also on Macmull’s custom order menu.
We’ve remarked many times before that there are fewer more versatile or more satisfying combinations in a luthier’s playbook than a pair of vintage-style P-90s screwed into a body fashioned either from lightweight mahogany, or a material with mahogany-like properties. The Stinger’s weight, acoustic response and resonance is very promising and, upon plugging in, it’s immediately comfortable in P-90 Les Paul and SG Special territory.
“the needle flickers between clean and mean depending on the intensity of your picking hand attack”
Dial in some tactile, tweedy grind and there’s so much scope for expression. All manner of Americana and vintage rock palates are catered for and the needle flickers between clean and mean depending on the intensity of your picking hand attack. If you enjoy plenty of dynamic range under your fingers, you’ll quickly fall in love with this guitar.
Inevitably, the bolt-on neck and Telecaster-style bridge lend the Stinger’s accent a certain Californian twang. It’s exceptionally rich in harmonics, and there’s a springiness to the neck and middle positions and a bite at the bridge you won’t get from the aforementioned Gibson set-neck designs.
“the Stinger is as well-suited to floating like a butterfly on gentle waves of ambience as it is swathed in the buzz of rock overdrive”
In many ways it’s a best-of-both-worlds situation. You’ll find Hendrix, Mayer, Townshend and Gibbons tones here in one supremely comfortable machine, and the snappy attack gives way to smooth, even and lengthy sustain. This blend is a boon for emotive lead work and it means that the Stinger is as well-suited to floating like a butterfly on gentle waves of ambience as it is swathed in the buzz of rock overdrive.
There’s no treble-bleed circuit, so rolling back the volume darkens the tone. Like an SG Special, the Stinger begins to hollow out as it cleans up, revealing some of that pseudo-acoustic character typical of vintage P-90s. The tone control is a useful weapon when playing with gain and its well-judged taper means you can cruise along at around six, then open it up wide for a subtle treble uplift for riffs and solos.
Is there anything we don’t like? Well, when you take the Stinger out from behind a desk and into a rehearsal room, there’s a little neck dive on a strap, and the body would need to be at least 15 per cent bigger in every direction to better suit our 6’2” frame. Nevertheless, we expect the Stinger to be a smash hit with boutique guitar fans and can’t wait to see what Macmull does next.
- PRICE £2,620 (inc. Mono M80 gigbag)
- DESCRIPTION Solidbody electric guitar, made in Israel
- BUILD Black limba body, bolt-on maple neck with 12” radius Madagascar rosewood slab fingerboard, 21 Jescar 47090 medium frets, bone nut
- HARDWARE Macmull Stinger bridge with 3x brass saddles, Kluson vintage-style tuners with white plastic buttons
- ELECTRONICS 2x RVT Matched P-90 pickups and CTS volume and tone pots, Luxe Radio .022mF Bumble Bee tone capacitor, Switchcraft 3-way toggle pickup selector switch
- SCALE LENGTH 25.5”/648mm
- NECK WIDTH 41.3mm at nut, 51.5mm at 12th fret
- NECK DEPTH 20.5mm at first fret, 24.1mm at 12th fret
- STRING SPACING 34.0mm at nut, 55.5mm at bridge
- WEIGHT 7.0lb/3.1kg
- OPTIONS See website for multiple custom options including aged and gloss finishes, headstock finishes, neck profiles, fingerboard material, nut width, fretwire and more
- FINISH Vintage White satin nitrocellulose
- CONTACT macmull-guitars.com, renegadeguitarco.com