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Rick Turner and the Limited Edition California Series

by Jace Kertson December 01, 2021 6 min read

At Heartbreaker Guitars, we love to carry instruments that we feel passionately about, as evidenced by our long-running relationship with Rick Turner Guitars. To this day, Rick Turner’s incredibly unique models are some of the most interesting in the guitar community. Made worldwide famous as the choice guitar of former Fleetwood Mac guitarist and front man, Lindsey Buckingham, Rick Turner’s iconic design and sonic capability continue to yield guitars that are entirely different from any other, and allow players to fully explore a different side of the tonal scope.

Over the past couple of years, Rick Turner, as a company, has been designing and releasing stunning and unique special edition sets with unique appointments, premium-grade wood, and an incredible variety in appearance. Those who are familiar with our store may recognize the previous special edition sets and models that we have carried from Rick Turner, including the Legends in Lutherie collaboration between Rick Turner and Santa Cruz Guitar Company founder, Richard Hoover, the Icon Series, or the Redwood Series. Following that collaboration, Rick Turner Guitars announced that they were going to be commissioning a 10-set run of distinctive, incredibly special guitars that would come in pairs; one Model 1, and one Renaissance, both made of matching cuts of California Curly Redwood. Today, I am going to discuss many of the observable elements of Rick Turner’s fine flagship guitars and will also be giving a brief backstory of the California Series guitars, how they came to be, and why you will want to purchase one of these sets for yourself! In discussing the functionality of Rick Turner’s guitars, it only feels proper that we begin with the most recognizable: the Model 1.

The Model 1 is an absolute powerhouse of a guitar, in both its functionality and its visual design. Described as the “electric guitar for the acoustic guitarist”, the Model 1 taps into a part of the sonic range that many other electric guitars do not. Constructed with a genuine Mahogany body, this guitar produces an incredibly balanced tone with a bit of a spike in the upper mid-range to boost the responsiveness for fingerstyle players. The Model 1’s, though consistent in their quality, have quite a bit of variation when it comes to the added specifications of each guitar. A full list of upgrades can be tacked onto any Model 1, and anyone custom ordering their own guitar can choose to completely make this guitar their own. From gloss to satin finish, simple electronics to a complex selection of additions, fully bound to not bound at all, and a 5-piece laminated Maple/Purpleheart neck to a simple solid Mahogany, these guitars are as customizable as they can get, and truly offer a wonderful selection of options for those who would like an instrument that will perfectly represent themselves as a musician. Moving on to the electronics of the Model 1, we are going to look at each optional component that can be added on. From my perspective, the most useful of all is an optional piezo pickup and control knob, which can be used to balance the volume between the magnetic and piezo to create a lovely hybrid sound. For fingerstyle players and flat pickers alike, many of us have seen the value of equipping guitars with a piezo, due to its ability to immediately add a separate layer of tonality, as well as adding a bit of extra “bite” to the overall sound of the guitar. Additionally, having a guitar equipped with a piezo alleviates the need to bring both an acoustic and an electric to a rehearsal or performance, as the Model 1’s excellent piezo sounds nigh-indistinguishable from a genuine acoustic. Moving on, the Model 1 is also offered with the option of a full Parametric EQ system, which truly puts the guitar’s tone in your hands. Alongside the standard volume and tone knobs, you will find two supplementary knobs and an on-off toggle switch for the Parametric EQ. One knob is used for the sweep control, which essentially acts as a cutoff knob for the guitar, to select whether you would like the EQ cut or boosted. The other knob acts as a 12dB boost/cut, which gives the player greater control over their volume as their tone grows more powerful and requires more restraint. The entire PEQ acting together, in conjunction with the added piezo pickup, can save you several slots on your pedalboard, as this guitar is equipped with the functionality to properly manipulate its own tone in several distinct ways. Also, every Model 1 comes equipped with the recognizable RT “Hot Humbucker”, which can be rotated to target different parts of the tonal spectrum, and to strengthen the lows or highs of the guitar. And last, but certainly not least, the tone control is equipped with a push/pull feature that allows the player to switch to a more intimate single-coil sound. The main word used to describe the Model 1 is “versatility”, due to the amount that it can do, the diverse range of tones that it can produce, and the eclectic scope of players who seem to find their tone with this guitar. Though there is quite a bit to say about the Model 1, let’s switch gears and examine Rick Turner’s other flagship guitar: The Renaissance.

The standard Rick Turner Renaissance model is a sleek, beautifully designed stage acoustic. This guitar is referred to as a “stage acoustic” due to its lack of a sound hole, and for generally being at its most effective when plugged in. The standard Renaissance guitars are built in a thin line- style body with a Western Red Cedar block in the center intended to reduce feedback. As far as their building techniques, these guitars are constructed similarly to genuine acoustics, with beautiful examples of wood and braced top and back plates. While its construction and added elements are not quite as complex as the Model 1, the Renaissance is designed for simplicity and efficacy, merely featuring a volume knob and a tone knob. Every Renaissance is equipped with the D-TAR Wavelength pickup system, an 18-volt pre-amp, and Rick Turner’s signature Timberline piezo pickup system. In addition to the standard Steel Renaissance model, Rick Turner additionally offers the RS6 Deuce, RN6 and RS12; a Renaissance with an added humbucker, a nylon string, and a 12 string, respectively. These models are incredibly well-made, and each version possesses different tonal characteristics that set them apart from each other. Now that we have generally covered what the Model 1 and Renaissance do individually, we can move on to talking about the incredibly unique California Series guitars, sold in pairs of Model 1’s and Renaissances.

The California Series guitars were born out of Rick Turner’s innate pride in his California residency, though he was raised on the East Coast. When he first came to California, he was incredibly inspired by the scene of musicians and luthiers in the area and found a significant amount of enlightenment and inspiration from the area, as well as the people that he was becoming connected with. Out of this admiration for his adopted homeland, Rick felt it appropriate that he create a line of guitars in honor. Each California Series set comes with a Model 1 (with the full electronics package), as well as a Renaissance steel string. The sets are made with beautiful examples of curly California Redwood that match each other, as well as California Black Acacia appointments across the Model 1, and each set looks absolutely striking! Additionally, each set is a bit different from the last. Some of them possess a more classically brown-tinted “wood” look, while others boast a striking faded dark purple finish. Some come in gloss, others come in satin, and they all look incredible. Each guitar also comes with a California bear inlay at the 7th fret, once again reinforcing the impact that the state has had on Mr. Turner! The best part of the deal: you can purchase both of these guitars for $8,850, an incredible bargain! With this pair of amazing guitars in your arsenal, your tone will be simply formidable on both the electric and acoustic fronts!

The Rick Turner California Series guitars are only available for purchase through Heartbreaker Guitars!


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