Xotic’s impressive take on a tried and true classic is one to behold. Combining familiar vintage T-style appointments with high quality modern components and materials, Xotic have truly made an absolute beast of a guitar that possesses the best of both worlds. However, with a price tag placing it in the range of exceptionally worthy competition, this axe might pander to only the most discerning of customers.
Hoisting the guitar out of its aggressive-looking hard case was a breeze – its ash body was almost abnormally light, with plenty of acoustic resonance when strummed. This review unit sported a medium relic finish over a classic three-colour sunburst, matched with a white single ply pickguard. The artificial damage is tasteful and appropriate, with the expected symptoms of wear and tear in all the right places.
At a glance, the hardware screams pure vintage Telecaster; single coil pickups with a chrome neck cover, a three-way top hat selector, single chrome volume and tone knob, and an ashtray paired with a three-barrel assembly. However, the nuances begin to materialise on closer inspection.
The most outstanding feature about the XTC-1 is its pure maple neck. The flamed maple fingerboard is roasted to a gorgeous light chocolate-brown, with a stunning stereoscopic pattern on the back. A natural oil finish coats its entire length, achieving a supremely comfortable bare wood feel. Even after multiple extended playing sessions, the oil finish never generated any form of friction or stickiness. Xotic calls this neck carve a modern C shape; while comparable to Fender’s offerings of the same name, slightly more heft is present in the XTC-1 – definitely a welcome addition. The excellent build quality extends to the narrow-tall Jescar 55090 frets, which are filed magnificently from edge to edge. Even at the highest frets and with the most abusive of bends, I was unable to get this guitar to choke out. At its crown, the XTC-1 utilises Gotoh vintage-style locking tuners, a perfect marriage of form and function.
In the sound department, Xotic chose to employ a set of hand wound USA Raw Vintage pickups. The front pickup offers plenty of warmth, low end, and a surprising amount of top end definition – not a common trait a T-style neck pickup is known for. The back pickup delivers the sound we all know and love in spades. There’s plenty of presence and the trademarked Telecaster bridge ‘honk’, without any notion of being overly shrill or ‘ice-picky’. Adding a touch of gain truly made these pickups come alive, producing lush overtones and harmonics without breaking a sweat.
While the pickups performed well, I was left wondering about the lack of any standout features from a guitar of this value. There aren’t any fancy push-pull mechanics on the controls or any special tone modifications. Even the neck – as impressive and beautiful as it is – has an elementary 9.5-inch radius, with no compound radii in sight. The guitar simply is what it is: an excellent stock instrument.
Granted, Xotic’s included spec sheet and website indicate a new owner would be allowed to choose from a selection of tonewoods, artificial aging, and finish options. However, the options generally revolve around aesthetic differences. Unfortunately, there’s not much in the way of innovation with the XTC-1 – no matter how admirable the build quality is. At the end of the day, it really begs the question: if one was in the market for a top-of-the-range, hand-built in America, Telecaster-style guitar, why not go straight to the source?
Hits and Misses
Faultless build quality
Supremely comfortable neck
Sizeable price tag