Guitar Player Magazine,
"Stromberg Montreux Custom
With its single floating pickup, rosewood bridge, and flatwound strings (it can also be ordered with roundwounds) the Montreux Custom is indeed a full-fledged jazz guitar. A very nice one too when you inspect it closely and start groovin’ on the multi-ply bindings that trim every perimeter surface of the entire instrument (including the pickguard), the split-block fretboard inlays, and the ornate “Stromberg” inlay on the headstock, which is also rendered in neatly inlaid pearl.
The construction and finishing of the Montreux Custom are impressive as well. Everywhere you look, from the tight neck joint to the careful shaping and slotting of the nut to the finely shaped frets, the attention to detail is remarkable. In fact, the only flaw I could find was a bit of dodgy binding in one of the f-holes, which is a pretty minor thing.
Playability-wise the Montreux Custom is very happening. The action on our review guitar is nice and low, the intonation tuneful, and the feel very solid despite the guitar’s light weight. Having the fret ends terminating just inside the edge of the ’board also makes for an extra silky ride on the neck.
The sonic vibe of this guitar is lively and open. There’s abundant acoustic volume and the tone is sweet and juicy with good low-end tightness and clarity.
Plugged into the Dr. Z EZG-50, the Montreux Custom delivered a round tone with a snappy midrange and just enough brightness to make notes punch though without sounding too zingy. I never felt that a Tone control was needed, and the Volume knob maintains a balanced response wherever it’s set. Though mounted under the pickguard, it is also easy to access with one finger.
(Note that this guitar is also available with two Kent Armstrong pickups and dual Volume and Tone controls.)
As tested, the Montreux Custom is a very satisfying jazz guitar in all aspects. It proves that you don’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of money to get a quality archtop, and how cool is it to own something that can trace its lineage back to the famed Strombergs of the 1930s? For all it has to offer the jazz guitarist on a tight budget (is there any other kind?), the Montreux Custom is a guitar that most definitely merits an audition."
Haque International, Jazz Artist,
"I'm blown away by my Montreux! For
years I've played old Gibsons for straight
ahead jazz, and I think I'll be selling
them all and replacing them with Strombergs.
playability is excellent, the acoustic
sound is strong, even and has excellent
sustain. The Kent Armstong pickup is bright,
clear and still very warm, well balanced
and has a strong output. I've played the
guitar in VERY high volume situations
with my group Garaj Mahal, with NO feedback
if all this guitar has that classic jazz
guitar sound, feel and look."
Ray Matuza, 20th Century Guitar Magazine,
"In an effort to keep pace with the recent
"Dead Italian Luthier" theme
that has brought an influx of instruments
from overseas, Larry Davis and WD Music
Products have resurrected the Stromberg®
name for a short but sweet line of Korean-made
archtops available at very reasonable
the non-cut Newport with it's suspended
pickup leans more toward the acoustic
arena, the Venetian cut Montreux places
more of it's vibe into the electric guitar
bag. Two handsomely voiced Kent Armstrong®
humbuckers with the standard compliment
of volume and tone controls plus 3 way
selector switch definitely underscore
The 16 1/2" body features a pressed
laminated spruce top with maple sides
and one piece maple back. A quick peek
inside the single bound f-holes reveals
no kerfing, leaving one to believe that
the sides might be cut a little thicker
to allow for more gluing area for the
top and back plates. This would also contribute
to the solid feeling of the instrument.
Scale length measures in at 24 3/4"
along the 1 5/8" wide maple neck.
The feel is very comfortable sans too
much chunk. Combine that with a low out
of the box action and you've got the ingredients
for a pleasurable playing experience.
Rosewood is the material of choice for
the bridge and fingerboard with very clean
and consistent fretwork from bottom to
top. No buzzes or high spots anywhere.
Construction is also very impressive with
immaculately applied multiple bindings
in addition to precise and clean fitting
joints. Gold hardware and black speed
knobs offer a nice accent to the luscious
"Amber Clear" finish. While
a few minor "dimples" appear
around the treble side of the neck joint,
the overall finish is devoid of that poured
on look, a common plague amongst many
a Korean made instrument. Bravo.
the Abalone inlaid headstock pays tribute
to the luthier's namesake with it's original
design offered on this modern day instrument.
the Montreux's voice is slightly ahead
of the typical laminated, pressed archtops
available at this price point. Although
not quite as detailed as a solid spruce
topped instrument, the Montreux's vibrancy
and warmth is a step up from say, a laminated
maple top jazz box. Through a small variety
of amps the Montreux's neck pickup echoes
the acoustic tone to a degree with a touch
more roundness. Adding in the bridge humbucker
gets a Gibson-like "tangy" sound
with a tight bottom balanced by sweet
upper mids, sort of like an Eric Gale
type tone. Soloing the bridge position
reveals a tone with accented mids which
keeps the top end from being overly bright.
While mainly directed toward the jazzers,
the Montreux seems like it would be comfortable
at an R&B gig and maybe doing the
blues thing as well. With great looks
and sound, Stromberg® Montreux represents
an excellent value at an excellent price."
Christian Eckert, Jazz guitarist,
"I've owned my Stromberg Newport guitar for a couple of
weeks now, and tested it in different
situations. For this price it´s
the nicest "jazz-box" I've ever
tried. It comes near to the vintage sound
you usually pay twice as much for. This
guitar is really loud when you play it
acoustically and has a real warm and smooth
tone. Played in a band it has a very present
sound, so you don´t have to turn
up the amp so much. For accompanying,
the mix of the acoustic sound and the
amplified sound is perfect. This archtop
is the perfect instrument to play in small
settings as well as in big bands."
Dave 'D.C.' Cosby, Jazz Guitarist,
"My relationship and interest in Stromberg®
guitars began at the 2002 Great American
Guitar Show in New York. My good friend
and fellow guitarist Eric Elias was manning
the Stromberg® booth at the show,
and I stopped by to see the guitars that
Eric was so excited about. Eric and I
played a few tunes together, and I was
quite impressed with the instrument. After
I found out more about the instruments,
their quality and reasonable price, I
was sold on the Stromberg®. I have
now had my Montreux for over eight months,
and it has been in almost every playing
situation possible. I have performed everything
from solo pieces to big bands with it.
I once had to play an entire wedding reception
with a Sax and Acoustic bass acoustically,
because the zoning in Historic Alexandria
Virginia did not allow for amplified music.
I have found that I can consistently get
a great tone in a wide variety of performing
situations with my Montreux, probably
because they are loaded with Kent Armstrong
pickups. I have also found the Montreux
to play remarkably well, and to require
very little adjustment of my playing approach
despite the fact that I had played a Gibson®
175 for over ten years now. In addition
to the Stromberg® being a great instrument,
I have found my dealings with the company
to quite enjoyable experiences, especially
Larry Davis, who has been a great help
and source of information to me since
Eric Elias first got me interested in
in all, I have to say the Stromberg®
Montreux is an excellent instrument, especially
for the price. It is a great gig guitar
for the professional musician who doesn't
want to bring his $10,000 prized vintage
instrument to a gig. I strongly encourage
anyone to check out any of the models
of Stromberg® guitars: The Montreux,
The Newport, and the Monterey. Also check
out the listing of where I am playing
on my web site, http://www.davecosby.com
so you can hear my Stromberg® live
and in action. I am glad that I chose
a Stromberg®, and I'm sure you will
Eric Elias, Jazz Guitarist,
"This past winter I was in the market for
a good, sturdy gig guitar that wouldn't
be too fragile to take into a club or
an outdoor gig. Sound and playability
were very important to me but so was cost.
I knew that most good instruments would
meet my criteria, but the price tag needed
to make it worthwhile as well. Around
that time a student of mine brought a
Stromberg® Newport to his lesson and
I found what I was looking for.
When I saw the guitar I was immediately
impressed by three things. First, the
instrument itself looked great. It was
spotless. The finish was very well done.
The binding, pick guard and accessories
were very classy looking. Second, it sounded
great. The Newport is about the size of
a Gibson ES 125, so it is slightly smaller
than a full sized arch top. I thought
its size might affect the tone, but it
did not. The Newport actually sounded
noticeably fuller than my re-issue Epiphone
Emperor. The third thing that I realized
was that this guitar played fantastically.
It was set up beautifully and the neck
felt very comfortable.
The Stromberg® motto is "affordable
excellence." I discovered how true
that is with a list price of $1195. Through
a little web research I also found out
that even though the Stromberg®'s
are imports, the guitars come with parts
manufactured by WD products in Florida
(Kent Armstrong pickups, WD pickguards,
switches, bridges and pots, as well as
Kluson tuners). The guitars are also individually
set up in Florida by a luthier. The nuts
are cut for flat wound strings (not light
gauge round wounds like many imports).
I realized that even though the list price
on my Epiphone Emperor was slightly cheaper,
I had sunk more that $300 into new parts
for it. Three years ago I had purchased
a Kent Armstrong pick up, a new tail piece,
nut, tuners and an ebony bridge for my
Emperor. Unknowingly, I had paid to make
my Epiphone more like the Stromberg®.
Overall, it cost me more than it would
have if I had just bought a Stromberg®
in the first place. It turns out the Epiphone
was still not as comfortable to me and
didn't sound as nice as the Newport.
evening I sent Stromberg® Guitars
an e-mail and inquired about getting a
Newport. I bought one about a week later
(after selling all three of my Epiphones).
I currently play a Stromberg® Montreux
(two pick up, single cut away) for electric
jazz gigs and a Newport for trad and acoustic
jazz gigs. Both guitars are consistent
in comfort and playability. I did not
find this to be the case with my three
Epiphones. I had a great deal of difficulty
going from my Deluxe, to my Emperor, to
my Sheraton. I found that if I brought
two of them to the same gig, my hand would
cramp when I switched. The consistency
between the Stromberg®'s has made
switching guitars much more comfortable.
The sound of the Kent Armstrong pick up
is also fantastic. I am currently recording
two CDs with both Stromberg® guitars
and am very pleased with the results."