Universally acknowledged for their opulent silver artifacts, the Inca Empire flourished as the largest and most successful civilization of its age. Many of the gifts they left to this world are valuably vital even to this day—paved roads, irrigation canals and astounding stone architecture that still amaze and astound many archeologists. One little-known reason for the mastery and success they enjoyed was their intrinsic understanding of how excellent the metallic shade of Inca Silver looked on an Anderson Classic as it tastefully glimmered in the warm glow of torch-powered stage lights while perfectly sultry guitar tones emanated from the concert halls of Machu Picchu.
If you visit with us regularly, you will most likely recall that we did first behold and expound upon the attributes of an Inca Silver, Classic within the annals of Guitar of the Week for November 2, 2003. It was there that we learned of this legendary color’s true origin from renowned expert, Professor Trembahr, and explored together the attributes of this guitar’s VA-Series vintage single coil pickups—finely adorned with coffee-dipped pickup covers.
This week we once again have come face-to-face with another Inca Silver instrument. But this time things are very different, for this is an M-Series, Classic. Seizing the opportunity of a lifetime, we boarded a plane for Peru. Once there we secretly sequestered ourselves within a sonically enhanced chamber of the accent Incan Capital City to square off with these two guitars as they go head-to-head in a sonic comparison.
First into the amp was the more tradition-based Inca Silver, Classic—touting a set of balanced-output, staggered-magnet VA-Series single coil pickups—VA12, VA12R and VA23 respectively from neck to bridge. Making sure the chrome VA-Booster mini toggle switch was pulled up toward the player for customary output, the VAs expounded their extreme vintage virtues with controlled power levels befitting their intended application. Fullness and warmth are effortlessly brought to the forefront, however, with full-bodied voicing and a complexly beautiful overtone structure that almost elicits a tear as you move through gorgeous passages of sweetly overdriven clean tones. Caught up in the moment, you are sure nothing could sound better, and you may very well be right. But there comes a time in every player’s life when the VA-Booster switch must be flipped. Doing so is a welcome surprise as the Booster does not ramp-up the output into the netherworld, but rather subtly and sweetly adds a bit of welcome girth to each note without sacrificing the all-important refined articulation that you strap on a guitar of this nature for in the first place. It is also here that lead-channel, single coil mannerisms become even easier to negotiate.
Still reeling from the sanctity of a pure VA experience, we unplugged and nervously introduced the M-Series Classic to the amp. But how could anything compare with our previous single coil encounter? After all, M-Series pickups are really a mini-humbucker design—of sorts anyway. And today, in this sacred place, it all about impressive single coil sounds.
Okay, before we wind up the next axe, let’s be frank with each other for a moment. For as many players as lust after having pure and perfect single coil music purring from their guitar, at least half struggle and fall short of achieving that luxurious tone they hear in their head, or on record from those artists who have defined the sound. Does it mean that these players who seek and have not yet found are any less good? Not at all! It simply means that their playing style is more oriented toward slightly bulkier pickups and the traditional single-output coils are not enough, over-wound singles are too murky and all types of humbuckers produce a totally different sonic signature.
One strum of the Inca Silver, M-Series, Classic and all pre-conceived notions concerning mini-humbuckers fly right out the window. This is something altogether different—and exactly what many players have always wanted but could never find! It is like starting all over with a brand new guitar that eliminates the way you must fiddle and finesse your amp and playing style in order to bring out crushingly big single coil tones.
One trip along the 5-Way switch reveals a guitar still abounding in refined, sweet articulation as huge waves of giant single sounds now enrich and accompany you through all musical passages. Gorgeous archetypal timbres continue to be found in abundance, gushing through the clean and slightly overdriven channels of the amp as a gentle percussive bloom, found only in the most sought-after tones of this type, precede all single note lines. But what happens in the lead channel is not even fair to other guitar players as unparalleled single coil lead tones command each and every note of your soloing or overdriven chording. Amazingly, all this is accomplished without the annoyance of a 60-cycle hum. And to make matters even more versatile is a master bridge-splitter toggle switch that can clarify combinations involving the bridge pickup when needed.
So which guitar is better then? This is a rather intimate question that you should only ask of someone with whom you are very close and have just shared sonic secrets with in an Incan temple. Fortunately, that would be us. The real answer is this: it all depends on your success in the past with vintage single coil pickups. If they have always been your “bag” then by all means, you must introduce yourself to any model of our VA pickups onboard a Classic, finished in a shade that moves your soul, at your first opportunity. But, if you have always longed for what you could not quite have from a single coil guitar or are a successful vintage player that wouldn’t mind stretching out a bit without loosing what you already have, then the importance of an M-Series, Classic in you hands cannot be overstated—not even slightly!
• MODEL: – The Classic
• FINISH: – Inca Silver
• BODY WOOD: – Alder
• BODY WOOD BACK COLOR: – same
• NECK WOOD: – Maple with Madagascar Rosewood Fingerboard
• HEADSTOCK COLOR: – Satin with Vintage Tint
• NECK BACK FINISH: – Satin with Vintage Tint
• NECK BACKSHAPE: – +.050 T/A Standard
• NUT WIDTH: – 1 11/16-inch
• SCALE LENGTH: – 25 1/2-inch
• FRETS: – Heavy—Exclusive Anderson Stainless Steel
• BRIDGE: – Vintage Tremolo
• TUNING GEAR: – Locking
• HARDWARE COLOR: – Chrome
• PICKGUARD: – Aged White
• NECK PICKUP: – M1
• MIDDLE PICKUP: – M1
• BRIDGE PICKUP: – M2
• SWITCHING: – 5-Way with Add-Bridge Push/Pull & Bridge Split Toggle—for 11 Sounds
• PICKUP COVERS: – N/A
• PICKUP RINGS: – N/A
• STRING GAUGE REQUESTED: – .010-.046 Elixir® Strings with NANOWEB® coating
• DESTINATION/LOCATION: – Wildwood Guitars/Louisville, Colorado