Review: Framus Mayfield Legacy

by Eric Kirkland
Posted Jan 8, 2013 at 11:34am

Solidbody sensations like the Panthera Studio Supreme, Diablo and Earl Slick signature model have introduced a generation of players to the heirloom-quality instruments of Germany’s Framus company. But players who are new to the brand, especially in the United States, may not realize that Framus originally achieved worldwide notoriety for the hollowbody electrics that were faithfully played by legends such as John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jan Akkerman, Charlie Mingus and the Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman, to name a few.

The exquisitely crafted, all mahogany Framus Mayfield Legacy recalls this hollowbody heritage, blending old-world mahogany/P-90 tones with unerring, modern playability. Although it’s unclear whether Superfly soul icon Curtis Mayfield inspired this beauty’s design, there’s no question that Framus’ Mayfield Legacy draws from the deepest tone wells and truly captures the spirit of the player.

FEATURES

Were it not for the obviously modern locking Sperzel Trim-Lok tuners, I’d almost swear that the Mayfield Legacy is a vintage semi-hollowbody guitar. A tobacco-brown burst enriches the mahogany’s naturally muted coloration, and while Framus does not boast about the mahogany’s often-unique figure, all of the Mayfield Legacy guitars that I’ve seen display an exceedingly rare 5A-quality ribbon grain on their laminated tops and backs.
In keeping with tradition, Framus has given the guitar a maple center block. This works in harmony with the mahogany to widen the tonal palette and reject feedback, making the ML more adaptable to high-gain rigs. Aged-white binding is perfectly applied to all seams, and the black pickguard is aligned and leveled with the same care for fit and finish.

The Mayfield Legacy has a glued-in mahogany neck with a true C-shaped profile that is somewhat thicker and less tapered than many vintage guitars from the Fifties and Sixties era, providing a uniform feel and excellent tuning stability with heavy-gauge strings. String benders will also enjoy the ML’s short, 24 3/4–inch-scale length. Framus’ onsite Plek machine perfectly finishes each of the 22 jumbo frets, and it ensures ideal slotting of the Graph Tech Black Tusq nut and a faultless 1:1 radius-to-string-height ratio.

The Bigsby B7 vibrato differentiates the Mayfield Legacy from its stop-tail predecessors. Unlike a tremolo or whammy system, it’s the only piece of guitar hardware that can create those soothing, long-wave pitch rolls—think of a slow-spinning Leslie cab with a hint of reverb. Electronics consists of vintage-output, soap-bar-style Seymour Duncan SP90-1 pickups, a three-way toggle and dedicated volume and tone knobs. The neck pickup is reverse wound and features reverse polarity so that the pickups are humbucking when combined.

PERFORMANCE

The Mayfield Legacy is, in a word, dramatic. The energetic acoustic resonance and sweet overtones were inspiring, even when I was tuning it for the first time. I spent long hours playing the guitar, switching between a Fender Tone-Master head and my Mesa Mark V combo, and I never heard a nasal tone, thanks to the guitar’s all-mahogany construction.

While the Mayfield Legacy is amply warm and harmonically complete, I was surprised by its brightness and quick-pop attack. It’s layered tonal presentation separates notes and overtones in ways that would be impossible for a solidbody to achieve, but its projection was never what I would call “cavernous.” These qualities, along with the Duncan SP90-1s, allowed me to crank up the gain and enjoy touch-sensitive crunch and grind. Some shredders may even be drawn to the Mayfield Legacy’s ability to clearly define sweep arpeggios and quell acoustic interference.

THE BOTTOM LINE

If you appreciate flawless fit and finish, and can afford the luxury, the all-mahogany semi-hollowbody Framus Mayfield Legacy will reward you with a lifetime of hollowbody bloom and stout, solidbody-style harmonic definition.

LIST PRICE $7,617
MANUFACTURER Warwick GmbH & Co Music Equipment KG, framus.de