In summer 2001 I visited Alex
Gregory and tried out the prototypes of most of his Pentasystem
instruments. I have to admit I was skeptical. I had heard Alex's
recordings, so I knew he was a great player—but could his instruments
really be that much better than the others I've seen?
yes, they can. If you've tried a few 5-string electric mandolins, you
probably know about "floppy C string disease," where the low
string won't stay in tune or deliver acceptable tone because the scale's
too short to achieve proper tension. Alex has licked this problem with an
ingenious, patented headstock design—the Pentasystem headstock is
progressively recessed so that the angle of the string behind the nut gets
steeper as you go down from the highest string to the lowest.
don't think I've ever tried an electric mandolin with better action. It
takes such little effort to finger a note that it's almost as if the frets
aren't even there. Full half-note bends are no problem, and I could get
the maximum return on whatever speed and dexterity I might have.
instruments sound fantastic, look great, stay in tune, and sustain
forever. Alex had three or four vintage Marshall stacks in the garage, and
he let me run a Pentaula through one of them. I became a rock'n'roller in
an instant. The Pentaula has a 14-1/8" scale, but thanks to this
wicked headstock design it's fully playable when tuned AEBF#C#—starting
on a low A, a step above octave mandolin tuning! The Seymour Duncan
pickups scream, the cutaway design lets you get at all 29 frets, and the
response is strong and consistent across the instrument’s entire range.
The available finishes and appointments are
definitely part of a rock'n'roll aesthetic. But after all, Alex's goal is
to convince electric guitarists that their instrument is obsolete, so his
instruments have to appeal to them. I've decided to become a Pentasystem dealer, so right now emando.com is one
of the few places in the world you can actually buy one of these axes. You
won't regret it if you do.