Hohner OSC Standard

Wednesday, December 31, 2008| by Will Chen

Undoubtedly most well known as a the inventor and number one manufacturer of harmonicas since the company was founded in 1857, Hohner first introduced an electric guitar in the 1950’s and briefly in the 1970’s before permanently expanding their instrument lines to percussion and fretted instruments in 1986. Hohner currently offers a fairly wide range of production models including the Artist Elite, a reissue of the HG490 which was Prince’s weapon of choice when he first hit the scene. Today we’ll take a look at the OSC Standard, one of Hohner’s made in China imports.

With a shape crossing a Tele with an LP, the Hohner’s OSC Standard definitely has a style all its own which looks both modern and classic at the same time. The clear coated ash body has a very nice grain pattern which is subtlety enhanced by crème binding giving the guitar a classic aesthetic while the aforementioned brushed nickel “Titanium” hardware emphasizes the guitar’s modern direction (though I must admit I’m not a huge fan of the modern brushed nickel look).

Hohner opted for a satin finished maple on maple 22 fret 25 ½” neck with a soft U shape yielding a feel slightly wider than it actually is. The classic open book styled headstock features three on a side Grover tuners mixing a touch of LP into the design. The fretboard isn’t the prettiest I’ve seen with a fairly dry look to it and I’m not really sure if I like the “sparkle dot” inlays. However, looking at marketing material this is the look they were going for. I would have much preferred the looks of a rosewood fretboard offsetting the lightness of the natural ash finish. I've definitely been on a roll lately as the fretwork is flawless though there is a slightly rough spot on the back of the neck near the nut.

Strapped on, the deep contoured tummy cut was extremely comfortable snuggling up to me perfectly. However, the guitar is slightly neck heavy setting just south of parallel when not held by my fretting hand. Access to the upper frets is excellent due to the minimized horn, deep cutaway, and rounded heel.

The OSC Standard’s electronic configuration is Strat inspired with a master volume and 2 tone controls. However, the neck and middle pickup share a tone control while the bridge pickup gets a dedicated tone control, a nice variation on the classic configuration. Volume and tone controls are effective across their entire sweep with the guitar reacting extremely nicely to subtly rolling back the volume knob.

Tones from the OSC firmly tip their hat to a hybridized classic Fender tonality combining my favorite aspects of the Strat and Tele...

I auditioned the OSC using a Boss GT-10 into a variety of full range systems, a Fender Cyber Champ, a Fender Super Champ XD, and my trusty Tech 21 Trademark 60. Tones from the OSC firmly tip their hat to a hybridized classic Fender tonality combining my favorite aspects of the Strat and Tele, which isn’t much of a surprise considering the Tesla VR-1 pickups which are 50’s Fender replicas featuring 42 gauge copper wire and Alnico 5 pole piece magnets. A real surprise though was how quiet the guitar was, definitely among the quietest single coil guitars I’ve played. The bridge pickup which mounts in a Tele styled bridge-plate assembly has a nice bite and defined midrange bark which really nails classic Tele tones while the middle and neck pickups deliver all the chime, slightly scooped mids, and subtle low end complexity you’d expect from a Strat. Also, there was almost no drop in volume in the 2 and 4 positions. Very sweet! As quiet as the guitar was, I was able to up the gain and pull some nice modern rock tones from the OSC as well.

Hohner has done a nice job in designing an original looking guitar with a very classic vibe. While some design choices have slightly compromised the balance of the instrument, the standout feature of the OSC Standard is the Tesla pickups which really nail the classic Fender vibe. The line has been recently discontinued and can currently be had for much less than the original pricing.

Price: ~$130 to $200 USD
Pros: Great pickups, good playability
Cons: Slightly neck heavy

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Filed Under: Hohner, Reviews