Fret-King Black Label Super-Hybrid

A piezo/ humbucker/ single-coil tone transformer

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, gawping bystanders, it's a super-guitar, sent to earth to prove that one instrument can, in fact, do it all. For the Fret King Black Label Super-Hybrid is no less than an attempt to combine single-coil sweetness, humbucker crunch and piezo gloss in one guitar.

The Fret-King batwing-style headstock, with Wilkinson-designed machineheads, leads us onto an impeccably finished and supremely comfortable Canadian hard-maple neck, topped with rosewood and 24 medium jumbo frets.

"A brief inspection reveals Wilkinson fingerprints all over the place, from a sunken jack-plug to the gentle wave along the top of the scratchplate"

The two-piece American alder body sits somewhere between a classic Fender Strat and a more modern shred machine. A brief inspection fore and aft reveals Wilkinson fingerprints all over the place, from a sunken jack-plug to the gentle wave along the top of the scratchplate. An unplugged strum reveals the Super-Hybrid to be responsive and resonant.

The fun really starts when things get loud. You might need a couple of minutes' acclimatisation to get to grips with the Super-Hybrid's all-in-one proposition, but when you do, you'll find plenty of tonal options.

The HSH layout, alongside a dual-purpose push-push volume control, gives you two things: a humbucker-loaded rock screamer ready to tear the face off a bearded hipster, and a bonus set of sparkling single-coil tones. It's a pleasant enough partnership played clean, but it jumps into life with a little crunch, sounding sublime through anything valve-y.

"The Wilkinson-designed pickups are perfectly suited to big, bold rock leads, cultured bluesy runs and beefy rhythm-based riffery"

The Wilkinson-designed pickups are perfectly suited to big, bold rock leads, cultured bluesy runs and beefy rhythm-based riffery. But remember, this is a hybrid. The Acoustibridge, another of Trev's creations, is a piezo-loaded bridge designed to give you a whole other bag of tricks to dip into.

Controlled via that push-push volume pot and three rear-mounted micro-controls, the piezo gives a pretty good account of itself, sounding what we'll dub 'acoust-ish'. Does it sound like a lovely unplugged Martin? No, of course not, but it certainly has some strum-along sparkle, and you can blend the piezo with the pickups for even more playing possibilities.

It might not have the digital bells and whistles of some of its competitors - the Line 6 JTV springs immediately to mind - but that doesn't detract from Fret-King's achievement of essentially cramming three guitars into one. The Super-Hybrid has much more going for it than appearances might initially suggest, making it an undercover hero well worth investigating further.

MusicRadar Rating

4 / 5 stars
Pros

Impeccable finish. Tonal versatility.

Cons

Best suited to players that will make the most of its flexibility.

Verdict

It appears simple, but the Super-Hybrid is a highly flexible guitar, designed with players in mind and put together with panache.

No. of Frets

24

Scale Length (Inches)

25.5

Hardware

Chrome

Left Handed Model Available

No

Neck Material

Maple

Circuitry Type

Magnetic pickup volume, magnetic pickup tone with push-push coil-split, piezo volume, 3-band active piezo EQ, 5-way pickup selector

Scale Length (mm)

648

Fingerboard Material

Rosewood

Guitar Body Material

Alder

Pickup Type

2x Wilkinson WVC humbuckers, 1x Wilkinson WHS single coil, piezo Acoustibridge

Bolt-on Neck

Yes

Body Style

Double-cutaway solidbody electric

Available Finish

Black (shown), Original Classic Burst

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.