His name might not ring many bells, but as a musician and producer, Alain Johannes has a long and storied list of alt-music credentials, including Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, PJ Harvey and Chris Cornell - among many others.
He already has a pretty slick offset signature guitar from Dream Studio called the Sparkler, but this time around, he had yearned for a beloved Epiphone Casino that had been stolen from him while he was onstage with his band Eleven.
Luckily for him, Dream Studio Guitars replicated the specs of a 1965 Casino and added some custom tweaks to build the Baccara, the newest signature instrument for Alain Johannes - which is hands-down one of my favorite semi-hollow guitar designs.
For the most part, the Baccara bears the straightforward construction of a semi-hollow instrument, with a thinline mahogany body, an arched maple top and a center maple tone block. The handsomely streamlined Baccara features a modern F-hole design and seven-ply creme and black binding from top to bottom.
It arrives in an oxblood red matte finish, with a three-ply tortoise shell pickguard that adds refinement to its muted looks. The mahogany neck has a compound U-shaped profile with a bound ebony fingerboard, split diamond abalone inlays, a bone nut and 22 jumbo frets. Its 24.6‑inch scale length makes the guitar easy to play, and the fingerboard feels much flatter than its 9.5-inch radius.
Electronics include a matched pair of custom shop wax potted Seymour Duncan Seth Lover humbucking pickups, with 500K pots for the singular volume and tone controls.
The three-way toggle switch is on the upper bout, making it easier to quickly flip through the pickups, but what’s even cooler is the middle toggle position puts both pickups out of phase for nasally and raspy tones.
For hardware, the Baccara comes equipped with a gold plated Bigsby B-30 vibrato, Towner tension bar and gold Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners.
Outside of its nomenclature, you’d never know the Baccara was a signature instrument, because there are no markings to indicate it as such. If anything, what you feel you’re playing is an incredible semi-hollow guitar with high-end components.
The Seymour Duncan Seth Lover pickups are a perfect pairing that extend the Baccara’s versatility in vintage and cutting-edge tones. The bridge pickup has slightly hotter output that turns any clean signal into a muscular voice , which sounds even sweeter with overdrive.
The neck pickup is clear and authoritative, with a flutey character ideal for jazzy solo runs. I do love having the out-of-phase option in the middle toggle position, just because it dishes out a musical and gnarly caterwaul for a completely unconventional sound when you’re distorting it.
The other remarkable aspect of the Baccara is that it feels substantial in your hands - it can take a beating and still churn out a woody response. Construction is top-notch, and the jumbo frets really stand out for being perfectly dressed and crowned, which all the more makes my playing sound more articulate.
I should also mention the Bigsby B-30 vibrato is flat-out wonderful in having a slightly more up-and-down throw when using it, and despite me leaning in on it, the guitar stayed in tune.
- Street Price: $1,899.95
- Manufacturer: Dream Studio Guitars
- Features: Mahogany body with an oxblood red matte finish, mahogany neck with a compound U-shaped profile and a bound ebony fingerboard with split diamond abalone inlays, a bone nut and 22 jumbo frets.
- Hardware: Custom shop wax potted Seymour Duncan Seth Lover humbuckers, gold plated Bigsby B-30 vibrato, Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, Towner tension bar.