Ben’s the space-faring guitarist from Hybrid Nightmares, the masters of progressive extreme metal renown for their stage shows. He’s also the founder of Ben Plant Guitar, where he and his team of teachers transform players into bona-fide guitar masters.
For the last 8 or so months, I’ve been getting some serious questions about my guitar – heaps more than I’ve had in 10 years as a touring musician.
The reason? I’ve been playing an Ormsby Goliath, a guitar which is different in a LOT of different ways.
New leaps and bounds in guitar technology don’t come along often, so I’ll give you guys a rundown of what the Goliath is, why it’s different, what it’s good for (and not so good for) and most importantly – is it the guitar for you?
Full disclosure – I’ve become an official Ormsby endorsee for 2019, but I will still be outlining the positives and negatives equally as this guitar is DEFINITELY not for everyone.
Who are Ormsby Guitars?
Up until recently, Ormsby Guitars were a well-loved custom guitar manufacturer run by a passionate metalhead in Perth, Western Australia.
Ok – that part is still true. Nowadays, Ormsby Guitars are sold worldwide, with premium production line models coming out of Korea, rumours of more affordable options in the pipeline and a growing roster of “Ormsbros” falling in love with the brand.
Now, onto the Goliath GTR specs!
Model: Ormsby Goliath GTR 6 String (Run 4 – 2018)
Body: Chambered Mahogany
Neck: Laminated Rock Maple (bolt on)
Scale Length: 25.5” – 27.5” (Multiscale)
Neck Shape: 20.3 @ 1st – 22 @ 17th D shape
Fretwire: Jumbo Stainless Steel
Side Dots: Luminlay
Hardware Colour: Black
Electronics: 500k Volume, 500k Tone with Push/Pull + 3 way toggle switch
Pickups: Masterblaster A8 Bridge Humbucker, De La Creme A2 Neck Humbucker
Finish: Chameleon Green Gloss (Satin Neck)
RRP: $1699 AUD
The model I have is from Run 4. What’s a Run? Because Ormsby models are so popular (and to help manage order quantities as they scale up), most GTRs are pre-ordered as part of a run, where you get to choose things like the tonewood, finish, number of strings and so forth and then receive your guitar in 6-12 months time.
Since then, there is a new model of Goliath GTR that has been produced, with slight improvements and adjustments, so each run is a little different to the ones before (the Ormsby team have a very Kaizen, or continuous improvement, approach to their guitars).
All the GTR models are made in Korea, which separates them from the Ormsby Customshop models, which are built in Australia.
I also opted for some hand-wound pickups rather than the stock pickups to suit my preferences, which is an option on many GTR Runs, so my tones are slightly hotter than the standard Goliath.
Where’s the headstock?
Forget that unnecessary piece of equipment! Who needs an extra bit of wood on the top of the guitar?
More seriously, the Goliath has no headstock for both aesthetic and practical reasons. If you love the look of a headstock, this probably isn’t the guitar for you, but many love the clean, minimalist look of a guitar with no headstock.
Practically, however, this guitar stays in tune far better than any electric I’ve owned. Part of that is due to the build quality, but being headless make tuners less likely to get bumped and a lighter, smoother-feeling neck.
The fact that I don’t have as much weight on the left side of my body now makes fretting notes much faster and easier, much more akin to how I would sit playing a classical guitar, and this reduction in weight overall is nicer on my back and shoulders too.
The tuners are instead located at the bridge, very similar to the way you would fine-tune a guitar with a Floyd Rose bridge.
The only drawback is that it can be a little more challenging to restring the guitar (I find it takes me about twice as long as a traditional headstock/bridge setup), but Ormsby have announced they have made improvements to their headless bridge design for future models based on our feedback.
Hang on – what does multiscale mean?
The other big difference with all Ormsby GTRs is that they have a unique scale length, with the highest string 25.5” and the lowest 27.5”.
This fanned fret design gives effectively equal tension on each string, which feels very smooth and consistent across the entire neck. It’s also a factor in the excellent tuning stability of the guitar.
This does mean that your chord shapes (particularly barre chords) will take a bit of adjusting, but not necessarily in a bad way.
For leads, it’s instantly easier to access the higher frets, as the angle of the frets more closely follows the natural position of your hand.
For low tunings, this scale length is perfect, as it’s basically like having a half-baritone guitar, but I wouldn’t recommend the standard Ormsby scale length for a beginner guitarist due to the length of the stretch required to play low riffs.
If I’m recording low riffs, I would select the Ormsby if the stretches aren’t too bad (because it’ll give a much more consistent response, especially across multiple strings) but if it’s a fast, stretchy riff, I would probably still prefer a more traditional scale length instead.
However, if you’re worried about playing chords with the multiscale, don’t – your fingers will be pretty much in position right away, and a bit of fine-tuning will make your shapes adapt to the neck and actually become more comfortable.
Great feel, quality sound and great value for money
Despite its obvious metal focus, this is a very versatile guitar. The cleans are crystal clear, the rhythms are heavy but controlled, and the option for 6 to 8 string models makes it useful for Jazz, Metal, Djent and everything in between.
It’s lightweight, compact but catches the eye with its colour-changing finish and body shape, so perfect for touring musicians (it’s a little too big for standard Aus carry-on requirements unfortunately, but it’s much easier to transport than any other guitar).
The Goliath feels like a guitar twice it’s price, which goes to show the quality of the manufacturers in Korea.
One would think that a production guitar with this many new and unique design elements would have issues with quality control, but surprisingly the only build quality issues I have had have been with an earthing cable that wasn’t earthing as well as it should (repaired under warranty by Ormsby by my local tech, Brock Guitars) and a screw regularly popping out on the input jack, which may be due to its odd position on the back of the body.
I’ve only heard of one other complaint about Ormsby guitars from an earlier run related to a bad batch of pickups (which were all repaired by Ormsby as required) – and each run seems to be faster, smoother and easier than the last for everyone involved. The Ormsby team are willing to go the extra mile to make sure the guitars play and feel the way they should (I recall Perry, the owner of Ormsby Guitars giving me some tips on how to resolve the earthing problem via Facebook chat to avoid a trip to the guitar doctors – no other guitar company would give its customers such a level of service).
Should I Get an Ormsby Goliath GTR?
First of all, you may not be able to!
Whilst there are a number of Ormsbys being sold around the world in guitar shops, plus a number being sold directly by Ormsby over Reverb.com (Ormsby often order spares where possible), most of the GTR range are sold as pre-orders, so you’ll have to order one to make sure you get it.
If you’d like to find out which runs are coming up, just head over to the OrmsbyGuitars.com.au website, fill out the form and you’ll get added to the GTR user group on Facebook.
First of all, if you were to ask me whether or not you should get an Ormsby Customshop, I would say if you have the money and the time, definitely. These guys have got the skills and drive to make very special instruments, and they’re completely customisable.
If you’re after a Goliath GTR, I’d say it depends on the type of player you are, your budget and your patience.
The Run pre-order process takes 6-12 months (but it’s getting faster). The trade-off for your time is that you’ll get to customise elements of the guitar to suit yourself, which is a special feeling usually resolved for Customshop guitars.
The price point of the Goliath GTR puts it competing with Indonesian or Mexican made guitars from other manufacturers, so if you’re looking to spend less than $2k Australian on a guitar, you can’t get much better than this, as the GTR range is miles ahead in terms of build quality and features.
If you were looking to spend $3-$4k+, and you’ve got the time to wait, I’d probably look more at the Ormsby Customshop range and get yourself a guitar better than any production model out there (or buy two GTRS!).
Style-wise, if you’re into metal, djent, drop tunings, this is definitely the guitar built for you. If you’re into jazz and prog, it’s also perfect.
For any other style, it really just depends what sort of player you are, as you’re not going to get much advantage out of the multiscale unless you’re playing leads, have had wrist issues with standard scale guitars, want more than 6 strings or want to experiment with lower tunings. If you’re in this category, best bet is to play an Ormsby (ideally for a month) to see if it’s for you, but don’t let me put you off – there are hundred (if not thousands) of Ormsby players who are not into metal or jazz and swear by them.
tl:dr The Guitar Game is changing – join the movement (especially for jazz and metal players!)!