The CS10 and Joel Fisk

The Story Of The Custom CS10…

So, early in 2012, I was lucky enough to pick up an endorsement deal with Hofner Guitars.

In February 2012, Nick Wass (Marketing Manager) and Graham Stockley (Product Manager) sent me over a CS10 to unleash on the general public. What a cracking instrument – as soon as it arrived, I couldn’t put it down. Great neck, great feel and great looks. The first time I was able to use it in anger was as the Half Moon, Putney, with Hokie Joint. This famous venue has seen performances from the likes of The Rolling Stones, Elvis Costello and Bo Diddley, to name but a few. I’d decided that the CS10 would be used mainly for slide work, and general open-tuned songs, replacing my then current axe whose manufacturer shall remain nameless.

Needless to say, the CS10 took pride of play on songs such as “The Way It Goes…Sometimes”, “Franklin”, our single “Force of Habit” and many others.

It also worked great on slide numbers with the second of my three bands, Wolfpack – a more traditional blues outfit, playing the songs of Howlin’ Wolf but with a 21st Century twist.

After playing numerous gigs with the CS10, I began to feel something wasn’t quite right for the sound I was looking for (and I stress, that’s just my personal opinion). As far as slide playing is concerned, I’ve always hankered after something somewhere between a Les Paul and a Telecaster. The thickness and grunt of the Les Paul, but the twang and snap of the Tele.

In June of this year, I was lucky enough to fly out to Hofner HQ in Germany, and meet the team. Part of this trip (along with sampling the fantastic local beer) was to record some video demos of the solid body and semi-acoustic range of instruments Hofner produce.

The one guitar that impressed me straight away was the Colorama. A slab of wood with a couple of P90 pickups. No fancy electrics, no neck binding or flashy inlays, just a simple guitar. But what a sound. The P90s cut through like nothing I’d heard before. Instantly the penny dropped. I need these pickups in my CS10. The combination of the feel and looks of the CS10 with the sound of the Colorama (albeit the body is a different size – the CS10 is a much heavier and dense piece of wood). This was it.

As soon as I got back, I emailed Graham and Nick about the possibility of putting some P90s in my CS10.

As usual, they arrived within a few days (thanks Laura!), and I took them straight to my trusty pal James Payze of Red Barn guitars and amplifiers – the UK’s number one vintage Hofner restorer, a great guitarist, and the only chap I’ll trust to do any work to my guitars!

We had a discussion about fitting them and decided to put just one in the bridge (the pickup I use for the majority of my playing), and I opted for a DiMarzio mini-humbucker.

As I write this, I have just returned from three gigs in three days with three different bands – fronting my own trio “The Struck Bats”, then running around like Keith Richards with Hokie Joint, and finally bringing back all my Blues chops with Wolfpack.

I used the CS10 for the majority of the first two shows, and for a few slide numbers with Wolfpack, and have to say I was absolutely blown away by it.

I’m trying to find the correct phrase to use to describe the sound – it’s like the fattest Telecaster you’ve ever heard – it screams, but retains all the clarity I need for cutting through for solos.

I suppose this is the closest thing to a signature model I’ve ever had – it gives me the exact sound I’ve been looking for since I started playing slide guitar at the age of 17.

9 years of trying, playing guitars ranging in price between £90 and £1500, and I’ve finally found it.

I can’t wait to get this down on record, when The Struck Bats hit the studio in early September.

Watch this space, and keep your ears open for this cracking instrument.

Hofner CS10 with Joel Fisk

Hofner CS10 with Joel Fisk

The Struck Bats. Rob with his HCT Club Bass and Joel Fisk with his customised Hofner CS10.