Fret-King Blue Label Super 60 HB

The 2008 Fret-King range is split into the Korean-made Blue Label guitars - effectively a replacement for the EU range - and the small-number UK-made Green Label. It's early days for the latter, but the Blue Label range is up and running. Let's take a look at the Super 60 HB…

The Super 60 HB is Wikinson's take on the Strat, though it is slightly downsized, with the horns a bit thinner.

Immediately, and by design, it looks like one of the numerous high-end 'boutique' Strat-alikes that are available.

Overview

Fret-King insists on only using centre-jointed USA alder for the bodies here, not a more random three-piece construction that you'll invariably find on start-up USA Fenders.

There's no top veneer either and the wood grain is slightly visible through the oh-so-vintage-looking ice green finish.

The Canadian hard rock maple neck, de rigueur for this style, has a slight amber tint that adds class, contrasted by the dark rosewood slab 'board and pearl - as opposed to 'clay' - dots.

As with the new American Standard Fenders we get a gloss headstock face and satin back.

Again the wire gauge is chunky and very bend-friendly, the well-cut nut is 'Wilkaloid' (a friction reducing compound exclusive to Wilkinson) and overall set-up and detail - on all three guitars - is excellent.

The Wilkinson-designed/Gotoh-made vibrato is an update of the original Wilkinson VSV with those distinctive bent steel saddles, but here the baseplate is raised and contoured, making it less vintage-looking, but a smart modern design nonetheless.

Along with the slippery nut, the vibrato just pivots on two posts and we get Gotoh locking tuners with height adjustable posts, with the top two tuners just recessed flush into the head, removing the need for string trees.

Gotoh hardware is of the highest quality but expensive and illustrates the value, especially of this guitar.

Incidentally, there's no face-mount jack 'cup' plate - all three guitars use a side-mounted, circular Electrosocket-style Tele-replacement jack plate that's very neat indeed.

While some of Wilkinson's wiring systems can appear a little gimmicky, this is default hot-rod Strat: another nickel-covered PAF-alike at bridge and two slightly hotter-than-vintage Fret-King single-coils hooked up to a standard five-way selector, master volume and tone - no tricks or automatic coil-splits here.

Sounds

On such a familiar platform, there's nothing to get used to - the good weight Super 60 feels like very familiar territory.

Sonically too there are few surprises - the bridge pickup sounds a little more earthy than the Eclat's, more chewy and textured, and the single-coils have an attacking edge that can quickly be mellowed either with the tone or just a little volume reduction.

The neck and middle combined is nicely hollowed (and the only hum-cancelling combination) and even the bridge humbucker and middle mix sounds admirably Strattastic.

A little more woody low-end wouldn't go amiss, however, as the single-coils can sound a little brittle.

But the guitar's feel and construction stamp has such a huge effect on the sound and playability that you can't help emulating your fave Strat players.

It's the bridge humbucker that really broadens the palette, and with such a good vibrato as this there's plenty of scope for more gymnastic styles - tuning stability is excellent and the vibrato's travel is wide, from nearly a full dump to around a tone up on the G string.

Again it brings precious little to the table, but as a journeyman 'boutique' Strat it's the most attractive piece here.

From the most soulful SRV to the bluster of modern Townshend, this will get you through most gigs and more.

MusicRadar Rating

4.5 / 5 stars
Pros

Design; build; quality parts; very versatile sounds.

Cons

Nothing.

Verdict

If you've always hankered after a 'boutique' hot-rod, bolt-on but couldn't afford one, now you can. A real journeyman's guitar. Recommended.

Country of Origin

Korea

Available Controls

Master Tone Master Volume

Available Finish

Electric orange metallic, ice green and original vintage burst

Body Style

Offset-Cutaway

Bolt-on Neck

Yes

Cutaway

Yes

Fingerboard Material

Rosewood

Fingerboard Radius

10 inch (254mm)

Fretless

No

Guitar Body Material

American Alder

Hardware

Chrome-plated

Includes Bag

Yes

Inlays

Mother-of-Pearl Dots

Left Handed Model Available

No

Neck Material

Canadian Hard Rock Maple

No. of Frets

22

No of Strings

6

Options

The Super 60 (£699) features three single-coils; the Super 60 SP (£729) features a P-90 at bridge and two single-coils in neck and middle. The Fender-influenced Perception four-string bass costs £529, and the Tele-derived Country Squire is available in three-pickup Super S (£629) and two-pickup Super T (£599) versions.

Pickup Configuration

1 x Humbucker / 2 x Single-Coil

Pickup Switching

5 Position Blade - Bridge/Bridge and Middle/Middle/Middle and Neck / Neck

Pickup Type

Two Fret-King WHS single coils and one nickel covered Fret-King PAF-style humbucker at bridge.

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.