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The RH-4 Classic
The RH-4 is Blade Guitars’ eldest child with its advent dating back to 1987. While it’s evolved in one way or another over the years, the core of the guitar and its aspirations for the vintage style remains and we’re gonna take a look at it and see what Blade has cultivated over the decades.
What’s it made out of? And what of the other specs?
If you’ll pardon the punctuated preposition, the RH-4 is built using an ash body with a hard rock maple neck. The fretboard is available as ebony or as a flamed maple alternative. I wasn’t going to say anything, but since the neck has already been brought up I should mention they’ve tapered the whole neck joint to accommodate the curved shape of the palm to help with higher fret access.
Speaking of the Flacon tremolo, here we have a seemingly innocent and innocuous tremolo not unlike those found on a Strat. Below the body, however, lies the deep, dark secret. The unspeakable. The indescribable. The patented double block system that allows the bridge to rest flat on the body while still permitting you to bend upward. It’s also designed to improve your attack, sustain, and remain in tuning even provided a worst case scenario of breaking a string or doing a big dive or two.
Concerned about aesthetics? That’s why all the Sperzel Trimlock tuners, the Flacon tremolo, and the knobs are all gold plated. The RH-4 is also available in four finishes including honey, see thru red, misty violet, and ocean blue, each of which is transparent as to show off the thick ash flaming.
Finishing off the appearance the pickguard is a shimmering sepia mirror. Sepia, for the inquisitive, refers to the dark brownish hue the reflective shield is tinted with. During a bit of research I also learned it translates to “cuttlefish”, but that’s a whole different discussion.
The pickups and electronics
Following an HSS pickup configuration using two V-3 stacked single-coil pickups in the neck and middle positions, and one LH-55 Vintage humbucker in the bridge position. Supporting the pickups is the Variable Spectrum Control (or VSC-3) that lets you, the guitarist, tweak and store tonal presets that let you shape your tone with more versatility. Should you be more of a purist the VSC-3 has a passive bypass giving you the vintage tone the RH-4 was designed to deliver.
Blade Guitars was founded by Gary Levinson back in the mid 1980s. The wheels began turning while Mr. Levinson was repairing guitars, studying problems people frequently had, and ultimately built the criteria that would later guide his line of guitars to the product available today. Levinson also happened to pick possibly one of the coolest names for his guitar company. Think about it. Would you rather tell your friends you’re plucking around on a First Act? Or would you rather say you’re ripping it up on a Blade?