Bow Down Upon Our Church of ACID ROCK
Tom Cat


Tom Cat


Tech Specs

  • Mahogany  Body
  • Mahogany Neck with binding and Block Inlays
  • Rosewood Fret Board
  • 24 3/4 Scale Length
  • 42.75 Nut Width
  • 2 1/16 String Spacing
  • Modern C Shape Neck / Satin Finish
  • 12 Inch Radius
  • Grover Tuners
  • Bibsby B5 Vibrato on Righty
  • Stop tailpiece on Lefty
  • Roller Bridge
  • Custom Wound P90 in neck
  • Custom Wound P90 in Bridge
  • Vintage style cloth wiring
  • 3 Way Toggle  With two Volumes & Master Tone
  • Med Jumbo Frets
  • Dual Truss Rod
SKU: N/A. Category: .

Black, Vintage White

Rigth or Left-Handed

Right-Handed, Left-Handed


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Tom Cat - PureSalem Guitars.

Pure Salem Guitars specializes in reissues of lost and obscure guitars from the 1960s, has been in business now for about eighteen months, and with their catchphrase, “Bow Down Upon Our Church Of Acid Rock,” have begun to win converts with their oddball ‘60s reissues and original designs, many of which are shall we say, most definitely left of center.

Pure Salem is owned and operated by a former Florida police officer named Rick Sell, a self-confessed fan of psychedelic and garage rock from the ’60s. When his career in law enforcement came to an end, it was a natural move for him to go into business offering Asian-built reproductions of weird, quirky guitars from that psychedelic era he liked so much. With no dealer network, but an active website, social media and just plain word of mouth, the Pure Salem story is getting around, and many guitarists have fallen under the spell of these instruments, yours truly included. The one design that immediately caught my attention was the model Rick calls the Tom Cat, a refined reproduction of the doomed Gumby-shaped Guild S-200 Thunderbird, favorite axe of Zal Yanovsky of the Lovin’ Spoonful, and also used by Muddy Waters. The S-200 is now a very collectible and pricey guitar, partially due to the fact that less than three hundred were made back in the ‘60s. Original S-200s now fetch up to $5000 on the vintage market.

The Tom Cat’s shape is perhaps a love-it-or-hate-it thing; there’s not much grey area here, in fact, noted writer Tom Wheeler once described the shape as a Hershey bar left out in the sun, but it’s always held an attraction for this writer, as I actually owned two original Guild S-200s back in the late 70s, both now sadly gone. I should have kept one of them, even though they were both modded and stripped of the original finishes. With the Pure Salem Tom Cat, I can recapture the vibe of those lost classics I once owned. It’s notable to mention that various guitar makers have recreated the S-200 shape over the years, including Veillette/Citron, DeArmond, and lately, luthier John Bolin, who builds Billy Gibbons’ stage guitars.

This review guitar is version two of Pure Salem’s Tom Cat. Rick Sell sold out the first run, then switched Korean manufacturers and has instituted major upgrades to the guitar. Let’s take a look at some basic specs.

The Tom Cat has a mahogany body and neck with a rosewood fretboard, binding and block inlays. The bolt-on neck is a satin finished Modern C shape and the scale length is 24.75.” String spacing is 2 1/16” with a 12” radius. Grover tuners are standard. A licensed Bigsby B5 vibrato is featured on right hand models. Left-handed models (all Pure Salem guitars are available left-handed, by the way) feature a stop tailpiece. The roller bridge is a thoughtful feature that helps maintain tuning when using the Bigsby. The pickups are custom-wound Pure Salem “Jimmy” P90s. No specifications are available as to their construction at this time, so we’ll judge them purely on tone. Vintage style cloth wiring is also standard, as is a 3-way toggle, with two volumes and one tone control. A dual truss rod completes the package. The guitar is available in two finishes; white with a white pickguard, and black with a black pickguard. Every Pure Salem guitar is set up in the USA and inspected before shipment.

Now, let’s give the Tom Cat a real test. I’ll try it first in a small Vox V9106 solid state practice amp, then run it through a Sommatone Slick 18, my hand wired, Class A boutique tone monster, built by New Jersey native and amp guru, Jimmy Somma.

Run clean through the Vox, the sounds from the Tom Cat favored highs and mids, and that’s most likely a result of the hot P90s and the limited tonal peculiarities of the amp itself. The bridge pickup gave me a pleasing trebly, throaty tone. When I engaged the neck pickup, the sound softened a bit, and there was no noticeable gain or loss of volume. This would be a good jangly combination for straight rhythm playing, but I rolled off the neck pickup volume to seven for a little extra high end. The neck pickup alone was fine, but you’re not going to get anywhere near a Joe Pass or Wes Montgomery jazz tone from it. This is a rock guitar, plain and simple, with no pretense at being anything but that. The pickups’ output is very well balanced overall, the sounds are basically good, and I saw no reason to change them.

Read the Full Review by Bob Cianci at The Gear Page

Tom Cat - PureSalem Guitars.
For decades, the Guild S-200 Thunderbird was a mostly forgotten fun and funky electric solidbody from the Sixties, best remembered as the guitar that Muddy Waters wielded on the inside cover of his Electric Mud album.

Then Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys started playing one, and the model went from being a pawnshop bargain to a vintage collectible with a price tag well above $3,000. (Damn you, Auerbach!)

That vintage Guild is the inspiration for the PureSalem Tom Cat, which has the same wild, asymmetrical body shape but several significant upgrades, including better pickups and a simpler control configuration.

FEATURES The PureSalem Tom Cat may look weirder than the average ax, but it’s a solid, no-nonsense working-musician’s tool that delivers the tones, playability and versatility they need. The neck and body are mahogany, and thanks to its relatively light weight and balanced body shape, the guitar is comfortable to play for prolonged periods. The neck has set construction, 22 medium jumbo frets, a 24 3/4–inch scale, a 12-inch radius, a D-shaped profile, a rosewood fingerboard and pearl block inlays. Hardware consists of a pair of Kent Armstrong P-90 single-coil pickups, a Tune-o-matic-style bridge with stop tailpiece and vintage Kluson-style tuners. Controls include a three-position pickup selector switch, individual volume controls for each pickup and a master tone control.

The Tom Cat is available with Natural Burst, Banana Puddin and Rosewood Veneer finish options, and while the latter looks exceptionally classy, I loved the Banana Puddin finish on our test example. It reminded me of a Gibson TV finish and paired nicely with the Tom Cat’s Les Paul Special–style pickup configuration. A left-handed version of the Tom Cat is also available at no extra cost.

PERFORMANCE While the pickups on the original Thunderbird were underpowered and wimpy, that’s not the case with the Tom Cat’s rip-roaring Kent Armstrong P-90s. This is pure P-90 perfection, with ballsy bass, commanding crunch and percussive punch that simply rocks. The controls provide a good variety of useful tones, and I particularly liked the convenient placement of the pickup switch. Although the body shape looks pretty damn unconventional, it actually makes good sense, as the weight is evenly distributed and the neck stays in place instead of diving. The Tom Cat may lack the Thunderbird’s built-in kickstand, but that doesn’t matter—this guitar won’t rest idle for long once players experience its awesome playability and powerful tones.

Manufacturer: PureSalem Guitars,

A pair of Kent Armstrong P-90 single-coil pickups provides raunchy, ballsy tones with tons of crunch and character.

The Tune-o-matic bridge and stop tailpiece are a vast improvement over the original Thunderbird’s clunky vibrato tailpiece.

THE BOTTOM LINE Inspired by the Sixties Guild S-200 Thunderbird, the PureSalem Tom Cat is a significantly better, guitarist-friendly instrument that sells for a fraction of the original Thunderbird’s current vintage-market price.


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