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James Trussart Steel-O-Matic Antique Silver Holey

James Trussart Steel-O-Matic Antique Silver Holey

Manufacturer's Site:


Reviewed by: A. Dorian

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The Bottom Line
Stunning visuals and an interesting sound make this axe worthy for consideration if you are looking for something different in a strat.


  • Showroom looks
  • Interesting sonics
  • Comes out ahead when compared to Fender Relic Strat
  • Collectable value


  • Looks aside, not too different from stock Stat
  • Price
In case you've wondered what would happen if you give an American Strat to an industrial artist and tell him to go nuts with it, the James Trussart Steel-O-Matic is the answer. According to James' site he “is one of the few builders who has broken the mold of traditional guitar making. Working with steel as the primary material, he produces guitars that are as unique in appearance as they are in tone. Trussart's creations are designed to have the look and feel of a vintage instrument with the added appeal of metal construction. His "Rust-O-Matic" technique (a term coined by Billy Gibbons regarding Trussart's unique finishes) involves leaving the guitar body exposed to the elements for several weeks, allowing it to corrode before treating it to stop the corrosion. He then sands it to replicate years of distress, and then finishes it with a clear satin coat.”. Trussart guitars are played by some very high profile artists, such as Billy Gibbons (ZZTop), Rich Robinson (The Black Crowes), Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), Brad Paisley.

Steel-O-Matic backSo is there really magic? It really depends how you define it. The guitar is certainly boutique. It is also unusual. The guitar looks so good that you might want to put it on the wall or on a window display. It has a very “manly” MadMax rugged look and I'd consider it a piece of modern art. It also is comfortable to play on and provides an unique tone. The aging of the axe is done wonderfully as is the paint job, which is dark gun metal gray or faded black, the manufacturer's term being “Satin Black”. The metal on this guitar is not "Rust-O-Matic", it is more of a sanded/distressed steel look, which is probably where the name Steel-O-Matic comes from. The back of the neck is a smeared dirty silver-white, which in a way reminds me of light color car upholstery touched by mechanic's grease-smeared fingers. The fretboard has the same look. The body is alder with recessed metal top. The bolt on neck is maple with a recessed steel head cap. The 25 ½ inch scale fingerboard is maple. The Steel-O-Matic has a synchronized vintage style tremolo. There is a Fender type 5-way switch and 3 Fender type tone controls: one tone and two volume. Trussart offers custom switching and pickup options as well.
The pickups are custom made for Trussart guitars by Arcane pickups. The manufacturer claims that trademarked steel head cap and metal plate also offers sonic advantages, so there are there to serve a purpose and not just look cool, which they do.


  • Alder body with a recessed Metal top.
    Bolt-On Maple Neck with a recessed Steel Head Cap
  • Maple fingerboard 25-1/2" Scale
  • Synchronized Vintage Style Tremolo
  • Controls- Volume, Tone, Tone and a 5-Way. Custom switching options are also available
  • 3 Arcane Inc. Single Coils, 1 Humbuckers and 2 single coils are also available
  • Weight 7 to 8 pounds depending on pickup and Bridge Options

In Use
I tested the guitar with an Orange Rockerverb 50 watt MK II head + matching 2x12. The sound was open and a tad jangly as I'd expect to find on a USA strat, but it had also a certain air that and a touch of an extra metal jangle or attack than what I am used to on a typical Strat. It plays well and the neck is very comfortable. I'd have to say that I wasn't particularly fond of the tremolo as it dangled loosely and had a give that didn't have place in a guitar of this price. I felt that it wouldn't last very long and I'd need to replace it. Considering that it is non-standard at least in looks, I am a bit vary of being able to find a fit. The Steel-O-Matic guitar felt at home with country, ballad and rock riffs. I wouldn't consider this a metal guitar, and the 3 single coil pickups would definitely need a serious boost for that. The sound overall was open and had an interesting character but it was a bit too jangly for my taste. The single coils were on the noisier side at overdrive settings, maybe just a tad less than their Fender counterparts. This guitar also had a faster attack and didn't ring as much as a similar Strat. I'd imagine the recessed metal top and the fact that it has less wood than a Strat would have something to do with it.

The guitar was rather pleasant, the looks are stunning, but there was no way I could justify the extra cost (guitar comes in the ballpark of $5000) over a Fender American Standard Stratocaster ( 1,249.99 street), unless it is purely for the artwork. If you compare to a Fender Custom Shop Heavy Relic Strat ($4720 street) , which I imagine most customers would, the price starts to make sense as this guitar offers quite a lot more in terms of quality, customization and looks. So in a way it is much more expensive than a USA Standard and not much different in sonics, but if you want a relic job and a stunning custom one at that, this guitar offers a lot more than the Fender Custom Shop. I can also see the Trussart having certain uses in the studio as it is distinct in sound and cuts through a mix like a knife..


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