Cream T Crossfire Review
Last year, we documented the creation and release of Cream T’s first electric guitar, the Aurora, and now we have another: the Cream T Crossfire. Unlike the Aurora’s more Gibson-esque construction, the Crossfire is considerably more ‘Fender,’ a plain bolt-on with a hint to the trendy offset style.
Cream T Crossfire- Overview
The Cream T Crossfire Skeleton model, which starts at £1,799, is unique in that it lacks pickups. What? The Cream T Crossfire, on the other hand, only uses the Relish pickup swapping system, which is optional on the Aurora, and part of the design concept is to appeal to customers who may have already purchased a pickup-swapping Aurora so that you can swap its pickups onto the entirely different Crossfire chassis.
The Cream T Crossfire Standard, priced at £2,199, comes with three pickups, a gigbag, and a choice of six standard open-pore finishes. The Cream T Crossfire SRT-6 (£2,799) is the top-tier model, and it comes with a cream Hiscox hard case and four pickups in a choice of three flashier slick metallic hues, as well as free silver or gold racing stripes.
The Cream T Crossfire is made in the UK by UK Guitar Builders (UKGB), which also produces PJD Guitars and the soon-to-be-released Seth Baccus Shoreline models. It shares many similarities with PJD’s Standard models, including the offset St John.
Aside from a modified and reduced offset form, the Cream T Crossfire is all-solid (not chambered) and uses lightweight obeche for its body, which is coated here in a very light, open-grained nitrocellulose.
There are plenty of other similarities, such as the quarter-sawn roasted maple neck with a separate fingerboard of the same material (rosewood is available) that employs PJD’s well-received 254mm to 305mm (10- to 12-inch) compound radius.
Crucially, the neck, like the PJD, employs genuine bolts that rest in recessed holes on the little contoured heel, but the headstock, despite the laser-cut Cream T logo and basic black dots for position indicators, is a little more Fender-like.
Other features include the same high-quality Gotoh tuners and six-saddle through-strung bridge, strap buttons, metal jackplate, and even Gibson-style control knobs, not to mention the outstanding fretwork and nicely cut bone nut.
The key distinction is that the Cream T Crossfire employs the Relish pickup-swapping mechanism, which is not available on the PJD. Moreover, unlike the Aurora, which allows for pickup swapping or traditional pickup attachment, the Crossfire is only available with this new technology. Flip the guitar over, and there are two open slots on the back that allow you to quickly remove the pickups and replace them.
Moving on to the controls, we have a simple master volume and tone. The Free-Way six-position lever switch appears to be a normal three-way lever switch pickup selector.
This has the standard bridge, both, and neck positions, but the lever actually rocks from side to side, selecting full humbucking when pushed down and single coil (voicing the outside coils of each humbucker) when pressed upwards. There’s no need for additional pull-switches because the Free-Way does it all – it’s by far the quickest way to coil-split.
Feel and Sounds of Cream T Crossfire
The smaller offset shape combined with the usage of obeche results in a wonderfully weighted instrument. At 2.95kg (6.49lb), it’s slightly heavier than our reference PJD Carey Standard, a chambered design that weighs 2.63kg (5.79lb), but it’s just as comfortable strapped on or played seated.
Outwardly, the necks appear to be fairly similar, yet the forms are distinct. The Cream T Crossfire is narrower in depth (20.85mm at the first fret, 21.6mm at the 12th) and width at the nut (42.74mm), with a shallow ‘C’ contour. It’s pretty stable, like the PJD, and the configuration is very mainstream.
Our only quibble is that the height screws on the block saddles stick out a little too far. We’d be inclined to add a little neck shim to correct this, but to be honest, we’ve never done so with this proper bolt-on neck join.
The responsiveness of the guitar is quite lively, and it’s a very easy player; the neck feels fantastic, and it actually seems larger in the hand than the proportions suggest. The fretwork is excellent, the edges of the fretboard are gently rolled, and we scarcely touched the tuners during our test.
When you order your Cream T Crossfire, you’ll be able to choose the Cream T pickups you want from a drop-down menu, but the main designs that will be available are the Whiskerbuckers and Duchess P-90, which we utilised in our test along with an Original Banger.
To be sure, for many players, a pair of Whiskerbuckers will suffice. These are exact reproductions of the pickups used in Billy Gibbons’ ‘Pearly Gates,’ and over a rather colourful, punchy Fender-like platform, the distinctions between old Les Paul and Telecaster become blurred.
Still, the bolt-on recipe suggests a greater emphasis on single coils, which is where the pickup-swapping thing comes into its own.
Swap out the Whiskerbuckers for the Duchess P-90 at the neck and this writer’s favourite Cream T Crossfire pickup, the Original Banger, at the bridge, and the character shifts to a rootsy snarl at the bridge, with a thick single-coil texture from the neck. Because both pickups are single coils, the Free-Way switch does not allow for coil splitting.
Not quite working for you? Put the Whiskbucker back at the bridge and the Duchess at the neck for a very boutique-style combination, or put the Original Banger at the neck (simply pull down its height via the large bolt on the back of the pickup frame).
As previously said, getting acclimated to the six-way Free-Way switch takes seconds and it is quite quick to use. Although closely located, the volume and tone knobs lie directly under your thumb for minor volume drops, and with it lose a little edge – extremely handy on gainer brighter amp voicings.
Personally, we’d try a treble bleed circuit since, with a Whiskerbucker at the neck, things may get a little unclear as you pull back the volume, and the tone takes a little while to roll off the highs, which you sort of need simply to lose a little spike, especially from the bridge coil-split.
- PRICES STARTING AT £1,799 (inc gigbag)
- ORIGIN: UNITED KINGDOM
- TYPE: Electric double-cutaway offset solidbody
- NECK: Quarter-sawn roasted figured maple, C profile, bolt-on BODY: Obeche 648mm (25.5″) SCALE LENGTH NUT/WIDTH: 42.74mm/Bone
- Quarter-sawn roasted figured maple fingerboard with black dot inlays, compound 254-305mm (10-12″). radius
- 22 medium FRETS (Jescar FW55090)
- STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 53mm HARDWARE: Gotoh hardtail bridge with block steel saddles and through-body stringing, vintage-style split-post tuners – nickel-plated
- ELECTRIC: 6-way lever pickup selector switch (3B3-01), master volume and tone controls
- 2.95/6.49 kg/lb WEIGHT
- Rosewood ‘board’ is an option. Standard (£2,199) without pickups; Skeleton (£1,799) with pickups SRT-6 (£2,799, our review model) has three pickups (Whiskerbucker set and Duchess neck). 2x pickup sets, satin metallic colours, racing stripes optional, case
- RANGE OPTIONS: Aurora Standard 2 (£2,499) and maple-topped Custom (£2,999) – both with swappable pickups.
- FINISHES: Aero Blue Pearl (as seen in the review), Graphite Metallic, Inferno Red – thin satin nitrocellulose on the body and neck
Verdict on Cream T Crossfire
On paper, it may appear to be simply another add-on, but the material selection, high-level construction, and outstanding playability take it into the big league.
The Cream T Crossfire comes across as a classic-style do-it-all drive when tested with the Whiskerbuckers: vintage voicing with contrasting single-coil splits, all accessed in super-fast manner via the Free-Way switch.
To be honest, you might not need or want anything else, but the pickup swapping allows you to quickly change the sounds and character. To extend your palette, the single coil Original Banger and the Duchess are excellent.
Of course, Sound Affects is now selling Relish-mounted Seymour Duncan pickups, and we’ve heard that other brands will be offered soon. Count us in if this is the future!