Fender Reclaimed Old Growth Redwood Stratocaster
The use of California redwood for this special-edition Strat’s body offers a warmer character, and American Vintage ’65 single coils and a Diamondback humbucker at the bridge give a mellow tone with a classic-rock kick.
We said: "While the redwood adds visual and sonic interest, this is a great-sounding Strat"
BUY: Fender Reclaimed Old Growth Redwood Stratocaster currently available from:
Try before you buy: Fender American Vintage Stratocaster
Guild Newark St Starfire IV
Guild’s diverse range of reissues, under the Newark St Collection monicker, included the semi-hollow, laminated-mahogany Starfire IV.
A distinctive addition to the twin-cutaway market dominated by Gibson’s ES-335, the Starfire IV has a wide range of voices and a competitive price.
We said: "The Starfire does a fantastic Revolver-era Beatles impression, and travels forward through time, via Cream and Jimi, into hard-rock territory"
Try before you buy: Gibson ES-335
St Blues Juke Joint Mississippi Bluesmaster
Made in Memphis, this stripped- down single-cut differs from more Fender-y Bluesmasters, with an inclination towards classics such as the Gibson Les Paul Junior despite the thru-body stringing, T-style six-a-side headstock and bolt-on neck.
We said: "A Gibbo for Tele players, or bolt-on twang for Les Paul owners? It sits in the middle"
Try before you buy: PRS S2 Mira
Case J2 Semi-Hollow Double Cutaway
The J2 is handmade by Kent’s John Case, and its superlative design incorporates stylised f-holes, wave inlays and a smaller overall footprint than an ES-335.
A warm, dark voice and juicy tone make it an inspiring alternative.
We said: "This isn't an ES-335 clone, and its slightly thicker voice reveals that touch-sensitive, juicy tone that is older-style Robben Ford, or Larry Carlton"
Try before you buy: Collings I-35LC
G&L Tribute Series ASAT Deluxe II
Fender’s Telecaster has been appropriated over the years by hard-rock players, and for over 30 years Leo Fender’s ASAT has been a cultish alternative.
This mahogany/maple rock machine has twin coil-tappable humbuckers for a broader range of tones.
We said: "The ASAT Deluxe II plays quick and sounds lush and thick; it’s a tough cookie that’s something of an individualist"
Try before you buy: Fender Telecaster Deluxe
Gibson Memphis ES-390
This thinline shaves 50cm off the width of the ES-330, but shares the 19th-fret neck join and hollowbody P-90 tones.
High-gloss lacquer keeps the price lower than VOS, and the compact body makes for a lightweight and balanced playing experience.
We said: "If you’re not obsessed with the size of original models, this has characterful sound and playability in a tidy package"
Try before you buy: Gibson ES-330