Holy State’s Gordon Smith GS1

A cool UK made guitar played by one of my new favourite bands.

My favourite band of all time is the Hot Snakes. The riffs, the vocals, the intensity and of course the songs really hit the spot with me. Since they split up in 2005, I’d been on the lookout for a new band with those same qualities as frankly it was getting to the point that I’d listened to the three Hot Snakes albums so much that I’d almost gotten sick of them.

Then in 2011 I discovered a young UK band called Holy State. They obviously studied at the school of  Speedo, with downstroked riffs and weird backwards twisted chords. I bought their two EP’s and waited with anticipation for their debut album. And it didn’t disappoint. The songs had really progressed from the EP’s and I was happy and all was good. Until they decided to split up. That made me a sad panda. Oh well, at least they finished the album before calling it quits.


Watching their videos and live shows, I noticed their guitarist Victor played a Gordon Smith, which is a guitar maker I’ve been interested in for years.

photo by Jack Sheen

I’m an avid reader of UK guitar magazines, ‘Guitarist’ and ‘Guitar & Bass’ as I think they’re the best guitar magazines in the world. They’ve had Gordon Smith articles in them throughout the years and always rate them highly. But being a small maker, not many make it over here to Australia. So I contacted Victor and asked if he could send me some info and photos of his Gordon Smith for guitarnerd. He was happy to oblige.

I love my Gordon Smith. We’re fortunate enough to have an endorsement deal with them. Family made near Manchester, handcrafted, custom made to order and beautiful. Mine’s a GS1 (I dig the simplicity: the single pickup, the wrap-over bar bridge, etc):

• It’s actually a light TV yellow sorta colour. Looks really garage!

• Double cutaway option.

• The pickup is Gordon Smith’s own hand-wound model. Overall the tone is natural, responsive, quite “woody”, and fairly classic. There’s a P90 option at order, which would probably sound great too but possibly at loss of character.

• Pickup is coil tapped. This saps all the tone, which isn’t particularly useful, but it sounds great for bottom string, single note, fret-buzzy stuff (think Obits).

• I think the defining aspect of its character is its playability: it’s unbelievable light (to the point where I’m still surprised when picking it up!), sits at a good position on the body, effortless fret access, close & consistent action, expertly made neck… basically, this is a really fun to play guitar!

Thanks to Victor for the great info. There’s a single cutaway Gordon Smith lurking around Brisbane, so I’m keen to get my hands on it and try it for myself one day.

Here’s Victor in action with his GS1 in Holy State.