Pacifica is an arm of the giant Yamaha brand, and according to their website, have been making guitars for 40 years. Originally designed in Yamaha’s custom shop as a test project, the Pacifica line was soon producing a variety of electric guitars from its Japanese factory. The two main body shapes that have become tried and true are (almost inevitably) the Telecaster and the Stratocaster, both originally designed by Leo Fender and co. Pacifica waves its hand of innovation over the latter here in the form of the 112V.
It is at first glance your basic Strat format, not as classic as Fender’s, but not as fast as say the ESP or Jackson clones. I think this is a good thing for the beginner player, such questions as: “When I learn to play this guitar will I be a Buddy Holly-esque twanger or the high priest of Metallica riffs?” won’t need to be addressed straight away.
The body on Curly, (as I’ve deemed my 112V review model), is made of solid alder. This is not always the case with guitars in the low-mid price range (rrp $699) we are working with here, many use basswood which is easier to deal with in the factory, but won’t yield the same bottom end as a more expensive wood. So right off the bat you’re getting the foundation for good tone matched with an affordable price tag.
The finish (yellow natural satin in this case) is of fine craft: not a blemish to be seen. Its contours seduce me, and the painted headstock (more like that on a Firebird) begged me to tamper with it until tuned. The three ply pick guard and the basic chrome hardware look solid and I like the Telecaster style knobs – a bit fruity and a point of difference to others on the market. The maple neck looks quite maneuverable over most of the length, flattening out from about the 12th fret up. This is of taste to some, but not always suited to a first time strummer.
Curly covers those basic Strat sounds, with the added bonus of switching to a humbucker in the bridge position via the push and pull tone knob. The tones emitted from each pickup are clear and rounded at low and high-ish volumes through my basic Fender valve amplifier. The humbucker boosts the mids to provide a crunch that may be of use to the review-reading rockers out there or someone looking for an everyday axe with a wide range of sounds. I’ve had a bit of experience with ’umbuckers, mainly through my 1978 Telecaster Deluxe and friends’ Les Pauls. In testing this one I found it was a bit too middle heavy and lost a lot of the bass and treble, making the sound wooly and lacking in colour. It was quite usable with the middle pick up, but using the bridge pick up exclusively was a bit much for me.
“You can never be too trebly with ’umbuckers.” - Anonymous.
The pickup in question is an AlnicoV humbucker, which was newly added to the model in 2008. They have been doing the dash in Epiphone SGs for a bit longer and with that in mind, it explained a little bit more about what Pacifica are trying to do with this model.
Although not as cool as the Telecaster knobs, Curly still throws down the fruity cards on the table. The pots under those knobs didn’t leave much of an impression on me however. They didn’t wake up till nine o’clock, which is much too late to do any Beck-ing on the bandstand. A pot with a nice even crescendo over its full wind is awesome fun to play with and can change the sound of your tone no end. Maybe the budget didn’t stretch to an alder body and decent pots.
On a better note though, the neck and fret board are easily played, well-crafted examples and are another salute to its retail price. A nice feeling neck is much more expensive than some silly pots anyway. The basic saddles are easily intonated and Curly stayed in tune even when this novice whammy man had a bend on the tremolo bar.
For me the guitar’s strengths lie in its most basic features: the body for its resonance, the solid six bridge saddles (though probably not to the taste of your more ‘vintage purists’) which are low hassle even when matched with the tremolo bar, and the well crafted neck and fretting job. Aside from its overall well-crafted value for money spirit, versatility is probably another selling point. The pick up selection is great and although I found the ALnicoV humbucker overall middle-heavy (easily fixed by swapping in a better pick up, dudes), the vast scope of sounds on offer makes it an excellent choice for beginner through to intermediate players looking for something to create a variety of sounds with.
I have to again mention its fruity patchwork of cosmetic ideas; all of this made for an interesting play. Thanks Pacifica and NZ Musician.
Ed Castelow is the frontman for Auckland based Dictaphone Blues. Their debut album ‘On the Down and In’ is out now.