PRS SE Zach Myers
There’s little doubt that the semi acoustic electric guitar is this year’s big growth area. From Gibson's 50th anniversary jaw-droppers to affordable SE additions from PRS, here are eight examples that have inspired us...
PRS SE Zach Myers
Most people might ask ‘Zach who?’ But Shinedown’s knowledgeable guitarist had the last laugh with his second SE signature.
It's a great solid-meets-semi all-solid-wood singlecut with satin-finish neck, adjustable Stoptail and dual SE 245 humbuckers. Jazz to rock in a single well-priced package, even if the Trampas Green colour isn’t for everyone.
Fret King Elise 'JE'
The ‘JE’ stands for John Etheridge, and combined with Trev Wilkinson’s excellent offset and down-sized solid-wood ES-335-alike Elise, it’s another great player-driven semi that’s extremely versatile.
That versatility is due in no small part due to its dual Wilkinson WVC humbuckers and Vari-Coil control. Stylish additions over the standard model include the solid ebony tailpiece. A classy, smoking jazz ’n’ blues machine.
BUY: Fret King Elise 'JE' currently available from:
Gretsch G5622T-CB Electromatic Center-Block
It took Grestch a while (understatement!) to add a centre-block to its iconic hollowbody designs, and they originally appeared only in the high-end Japanese-made Professional Collection.
Thankfully, we eventually got the more affordable Electromatic versions, such as this three-pickup-with-Bigsby G5622T-CB. Reduced feedback, a pinned bridge and that classic Grestch livery. Game on!
Music Man Axis Super Sport Semi Hollowbody
If the idea of a large ES-335-alike semi appals you, there are numerous solidbody-sized options.
This Music Man is a serious pro-spec guitar with one of the finest necks money can buy. It’s powered by custom DiMarzios and sits on the rockier side of the tone tracks, but it’s far from a one-trick pony.
BUY: Music Man Axis Super Sport Semi Hollowbody currently available from:
Taylor T5Z Custom
Technically a hollowbody, and with both electric and acoustic sounds, the T5z, downsized from the T5, with improved electric-like playability, sounds more ‘semi’ than many we’ve played.
Acoustic, old-style archtop, rootsy electric... it’s all here. And if you find the Custom’s price daunting, the Classic version kicks off the range - with all the same sounds - at a much less salty £1,511.
Fano Alt De Facto RB6 Thinline
Master of the guitar world’s ‘alternate reality’, Dennis Fano’s creations meld classic elements into something new.
This aged Rickenbacker-meets-Tele-meets-Grestch is one of his finest instruments. With Gibson-like scale and playability, plus Lollar and TV Jones pickups, we glimpsed tonal heaven.
Guild Starfire V with Bigsby
During its lengthy time as a Fender-owned brand, Guild electrics were rarely seen. That all changed in 2013 when the Newark St Collection marked a mainstream return with slavish original detail and affordability via Korean manufacture.
Earlier this year, Fender sold the brand, although now with new owners all that work doesn’t look wasted.
The early 60s Starfire V is obviously modelled on the semi, the Gibson ES-335, but it retains its own character, the unpinned wooden-foot bridge and the master volume control, not to mention the striped mahogany laminate construction of the body.
Then there are the low-output Guild ‘Anti-Hum’ pickups that sound as evocative for 60s clean and crunch as any boutique pickups we’ve heard. A real quality ‘vintage’ semi that won’t break the bank.
BUY: Guild Starfire V with Bigsby currently available from:
Gibson 50th Anniversary '63 ES-335
Often imitated but rarely bettered? It’s hard to dispute. The current semi trend began back in 1958 with the ES-335, and for many players that’s where it ends.
This example completely floored us with its ‘Cream-era’ early 60s specification and vintage-look VOS finish. But when you plug it in, well, it’s the audio equivalent of a time machine and testament to a truly groundbreaking design: is there any style of music that you can’t play with an ES-335?
Our roundup of this and three other Gibson Memphis semis in issue 387 also underlined just how good that facility has become.
If you can’t afford to buy the real vintage pieces – who can? – these historically accurate guitars are the closest we’ve laid our hands on. This ES-335 is a serious investment, but if you’re serious about your craft...