Earlier this month, I took a trip up to Birmingham to try out a couple of B&G Little Sister P90 Crossroads guitars. I liked them so much, I brought one home with me and named it Merrang! (The exclamation mark is part of the name.)
Why did I get it, and what is it for? Read on for my First Impressions.
What Did You Buy?
I bought a B&G Little Sister P90 Crossroads guitar, in honey burst. B&G are the company who makes them, Little Sister P90 is the guitar model, and Crossroads is the factory line.
It’s a chambered-body electric guitar, based on old acoustic parlour guitars. It’s a guitar that’s built for soulful blues and tweedy tones. I got the cutaway version, mostly because that’s what was available, and partly because it should be a little easier to play up the dusty end.
I bought it brand new from GuitarGuitar in Birmingham.
Why Did You Buy It?
Before I went into hospital earlier this year, I wrote up some notes for my wife on the guitars that I currently have. That way, if the worst had happened, she’d have a better idea of what I had at the time.
I’ve been turning those notes into a set of draft posts that I’m going to call Guitar Stories. I’ve also been expanding the series to also cover guitars that I’ve sold on. One of those guitars is my Taylor T5z, which I sold back in 2019 to help fund a home studio gear upgrade. Writing about the Taylor helped me realise something: I miss that guitar.
It’s not the T5z itself that I miss. It’s what I used it for.
I write the arrangements for the cover band that I’m in, and for the first year of the band, I wrote those arrangements late at night while learning the original song from YouTube videos. The T5z was a great guitar for this, because it was loud enough for me to enjoy playing unplugged, while being quiet enough that the neighbours couldn’t hear it.
After I sold the T5z, we switched over to writing the arrangements during band rehearsals instead. While that definitely works, I think I’m more creative when I develop ideas in my own time.
And anyways, I’m a night owl. Having a guitar that I can practice on in the small hours is very me.
How Did You Come Across This Guitar?
There used to be a shop in London called The North American Guitar (they moved out of the UK in 2020, I believe, and now operate out of Nashville), and they featured the B&G Little Sister heavily over on their YouTube channel.
What’s With The Whacky Name?
This is a guitar that’s incredibly light and fluffy in the hand, but plug it into a dirty amp and it can rock out all day long. That’s why we’ve christened it “Merrang!”, a play on “meringue” and the old rock magazine “Kerrang!”.
It’s Light, Then?
Oh yeah. It’s pretty similar in weight to a decent acoustic guitar. Much lighter than a solid body electric guitar. That helps a lot when I’m sat in bed at night playing this guitar.
With a normal electric guitar, I always end up fighting the weight a bit when I’m playing it in an awkward sitting position. Electric guitars always want to slide off my lap and off the bed. (The Taylor T5z also didn’t like sitting still; it was as slippy as an iPhone without a case.)
The Little Sister just happily sits there, and I can just focus on playing and a lot less on just holding it in place. It just makes everything easy.
And It Can Rock Out Too?
Don’t be fooled by its looks. It may look somewhat polite and polished and like it’s going to be an acoustic guitar, but those looks are deceptive.
The Little Sister is at its best when it’s singing full-bore into a vintage-voiced dirty amplifier. This video is a good example:
Definite Les Paul vibes / territory, but still with its own sound.
What’s With The ‘Crossroads’ Part Of The Name?
‘Crossroads’ is B&G’s factory-made line of instruments. Think of it as their equivalent of the Gibson USA line. The idea is to make their lineup available at a more affordable price.
The ‘Crossroads’ series are made in Asia. Do not let that put you off. The one that I have has PRS-levels of quality. I haven’t found a single construction flaw on this guitar yet. It’s much higher quality than several American-made guitars that I’ve played in the past.
B&G also do a Private Build version, which are made in Israel. Apart from being hand-crafted by B&G’s top luthiers, the Private Build versions also allow you to request some customisations.
Honestly, unless you want one of those customisations (the even-wider nut-width appeals to me one day, for example), I do believe that the Crossroads version is the better choice.
The Soft-V Neck Carve Is Very Comfortable
This is the first guitar I’ve played that has a soft-V neck carve. So far, I’ve found it very comfortable, and had no problems at all adapting to it.
I Wish It Had Les Paul Controls
One of the reasons I prefer Les Pauls is that they have separate volume and tone controls for each pickup. I love playing in the middle position, and being able to control the blend between neck and bridge pickups is something that I deeply love.
With Merrang!, I got around this by lowering the neck pickup a bit instead. I’m not really a neck pickup player, so I don’t mind sacrificing the tone of the neck position to help me get the sound that I want out of this guitar.
One nice touch with the Crossroads series is that they’re compatible with B&G’s Private Build electronics. In the future, I might order their P90 set with volume-volume-tone controls, so that I can get full control over the middle position sound.
Watch Out For String Ends On That Headstock
The tuning machine heads don’t stick out sideways from the headstock; they point backwards, towards the player. So do the ends of the strings. They’re an accident waiting to happen, and I didn’t have to wait long 😱
I’ve already managed to jab my finger on the end of one of the strings, just by reaching up without looking to tune the guitar. If it had happened during a gig, I probably wouldn’t have been able to continue. It was a couple of days before I could comfortably fret strings again. Fleshy finger pads really don’t like being stabbed by guitar strings!
For me, the main appeal is that I can just pick it up and play at any time, without needing to plug into an amp. It plays like an electric (it has the same scale length as a Les Paul), sounds far nicer unplugged than the Fender Acoustasonic Telecaster did, and isn’t loud enough to disturb anyone at all.
I’m honestly not sure how many other guitars that are currently in production tick all of those boxes.
I work from home. If I’m taking a short break, or I’ve got 5 minutes to kill between meetings, I can just grab the Little Sister and start playing. If I’m working on a new arrangement for a cover song late at night, I can use the Little Sister without any worry at all.
For that reason alone, it’s going to end up being my main writing guitar: because I’m going to reach for it all those times when I want to play guitar, but don’t want to (or can’t) fire up an amp.
And when it’s safe to travel again, this guitar is the obvious one to take on holiday.