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Tom Anderson Guitarworks Short T review

Actually, it’s been a little over a year now. But I’ve had my Tom Anderson Guitarworks Short T for about a year now and can honestly say that it’s the best guitar I’ve ever owned. “Short T” is basically a Telecaster-style guitar but instead of being standard scale length (25.5″ from the nut to the saddles) it’s short-scale (24.75″ from nut to saddles) which lowers the string tension, makes the whole thing a little easier to play- more slinky, and adds some sonic girth to everything that comes out of the guitar.

I’ve owned 7 Andersons in the last 10 years (I think) and have borrowed another half dozen maybe. 4 of those I spec’d myself, others were used or retail stock. I’ve had 4 James Tylers pass through my house in the last year. I own a Custom Shop Fender strat and have had 2 others in my house this year. LOTS of guitars have come and gone in the last 10 years and lots of guitars have come and gone in the last 12 months.

In the last year, I’ve done tone workshops, an instructional video on tone, a year-long CD vanity project, and hundreds of gigs and it seems that my sweet little Black Short T keeps surprising me at every turn of the road.

If you are curious about what a Short T does, here are my thoughts:

For starters, mine is a hollow ash, black with scraped binding and body contours, maple neck +.50 oversized, M in the bridge and an Anderson something or other single in the neck, 3-way switch, no push-pull or hidden switches. Just good ol’ WYSIWYG. Mine has the drop D tuner as well.

The Tone Chef with his Short T Anderson

The Tone Chef with his beloved Anderson

On Stage:
This guitar is fatter than your standard tele. To me, a tele has a snarl in the upper mids and a bit of rasp to its voice. My short T has a bit of that but you lose some of the nasal honkyness that occasionally rubs me wrong with a standard tele. Also, one of the upsides to a tele is that it has a fast attack and a somewhat one-dimensional appeal that helps it to cut through the mix. Admittedly, my Short T has a little more compression and more bloom and blossom than a standard tele, but I feel like it still cuts through perfectly. And the tones are more accommodating and less brash. I also feel like this guitar works when it’s the only guitar on stage because it takes up a little more space where a standard tele can sometimes sound lonely as if the sonic footprint isn’t quite large enough to make an impression. With the M in the bridge, it’s what Tom called “one of the greatest all-time Classic Rock crunch tones”. It’s got plenty of bite thanks to the ash body, but the growl and bloom of the hollow body leans everything towards a little more brown sound, regardless of how much gain is coming from the amp. The neck single coil is syrupy sweet and regardless of how gainy the amp/pedal combination is, always sounds articulate and tight. The middle position is my go-to for the pretty and the clean stuff. It’s my Gretsch-in-a-switch sound.

In Sessions:
This one is a little harder to quantify because the approach to tracking is different from the approach to playing live. In tracking, we like to find little hidden corners of the EQ spectrum in which to hide a cool guitar part. It’s ok to have a bright, scrapey sounding guitar part that matches with a honky and woofy old Silvertone amp tone. But between the three pickup sounds, and the ability to roll the volume off and on, it is my secret weapon. While doing my CD, I grabbed my short T more than any other guitar when it came time to do solos. It’s the guitar that is all the solos on “Just So” and “London”, and carries most of the melody on “Strong”.

I know there has been a good amount of talk about making a Short S, and lots of speculation about how that might sound coming from Anderson World Headquarters. But if that never comes, and you’re looking for the guitar that could potentially change your life (make you run faster, jump higher, grow thicker hair, be more attractive to the opposite sex, etc.), it’s worth giving the Short T a try.

Thank you, please drive thru….

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • bojackey February 6, 2011, 5:39 pm

    Reading your review, and hearing you play your short ‘T’, made me curious. While googling around for other opinions I learned that Anderson guitars are equipped with the Buzz Feiten tuning system.

    Does your ‘T’ have BFTS? What’s your opinion of it?

    thanx,

    bojackey

  • el jefe de la cucina February 15, 2011, 2:44 pm

    bojackey,
    Yup, mine has the BFTS. My opinion on the system is that it’s cool. In general, the guitar seems to sound more “right”, like there’s something generally more musical about the tuning. I really love that it plays in tune up and down the neck. There are some guys who now refuse to play a guitar WITHOUT the BFTS but I’m not quite that rigid. I think it’s a benefit, but I also think guitars are generally imperfect beasts. Our amps hum, our guitars sometimes buzz, our stompboxes click when we step on them… those things are just part of the game in my opinion.

    I hope that helps,
    -corey

  • Chris August 5, 2012, 11:32 pm

    What is the serial # on your guitar? I’d like to look it up on the Tom Anderson site as a starting place for you Short T.

    Thanks, Chris

  • el jefe de la cucina August 6, 2012, 3:36 pm

    Hi Chris,
    it’s 09-18-09B

    Great guitar!
    -corey

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