Acoustically, the Airline's hollow construction makes it very loud.
There's a honky, pronounced midrange and a lot of body resonance, too,
including a couple of noticeable wolf tones. It's a great unamplified
couch guitar, but the sound is a bit uncontrollable.
Never mind. Plugged in, the Airline's sound is rich and well-rounded with a surprisingly smooth yet biting top end, and even the bridge pickup delivers a really good, thumping bass which feels like it's moving serious air in front of your speakers. The high-output P90s are very hi-fi and yet microphonic enough to allow a measured degree of the acoustic tone to creep in, making it sound exceptionally three-dimensional.
There are very few electric guitars you can use to strum chords behind a vocal in the way you can use an acoustic guitar, but the Tuxedo is excellent. Twin pickup mode or the neck unit on its own are best, but even the bridge pickup can handle a brighter version if need be. As an all-round electric for clean sounds this guitar's a winner, and hard to touch for country, folk or jangly pop.
Surprisingly, it's not that great for bluesy leads. String bending seems to bring out more of the underlying tonal instabilities so some notes seem to jump out more than others, and you don't get the long, singing sustain you'd expect from a larger f-hole semi-acoustic. However, the Tuxedo sounds great for bottleneck blues. It also delivers a cool modern jazz sound – but for more vintage tones you'll need to dial out some top end via the very useable tone controls.
The Tuxedo continues to sound great when you start to turn the volume up. At the point where the amp starts to naturally break up you'll find a huge Gretsch-like sound, and vintage Neil Young riffs are a hoot to play. Anything with a garage rock vibe sounds authentic, and a bit more drive will get you leaping around playing Stooges riffs.
Using pedal overdrive is a mixed bag, though. A fairly tight, focused tone is really good for punk chords, but lead lines can mush out a bit; plenty of other instruments do the rock lead thing better. Fuzz is simply groovy though, especially for that slightly clipped psychedelic tone. You can add chorus, flanging and delay to clean tones without losing too much clarity, but being too liberal with them on overdrive settings can lead to a less than appealing sonic soup.