Review: Heritage Guitars Standard H-150

(Image credit: Heritage Guitars)

The French use the term terroir to refer to the environment — particularly the soil and climate — that gives certain artisanal foods and wines characteristics that reflect the place where it originated. I never thought of using terroir to describe an electric solidbody guitar before, but after playing the Heritage Standard H-150 I’m hard-pressed to think of a better word to explain what makes it so damn irresistible. I’ve played more than a hundred guitars from dozens of companies both domestic and imported that are based on the coveted late-Fifties Les Paul Standard with dual humbuckers and a solid carved figured maple top laminated to a single-cutaway mahogany slab body, but I don’t recall any that have come as close to the tone, feel and overall vibe of the original version as much as the Heritage.

The reason for that is because the Heritage H-150 is made like the original model used to be made and, equally importantly, where it used to be made, in the same factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where this classic solidbody design was born. For those of you unfamiliar with the Heritage story, the company was formed by ex-Gibson employees who refused to move to Nashville when Gibson relocated its factory there in the mid-Eighties. Several of the founders, who are still working with Heritage today, were building guitars in the Kalamazoo factory back in the Fifties and know every detail and trade secret behind the construction of the most desirable models. But while many other builders today also know the same details and secrets, what makes the Heritage H-150 truly special is something I can only attribute to Kalamazoo terroir.

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.