If you've ever hankered after a high-end boutique guitar but can't afford one then Maverick, the British-designed Korean-made brand, could have the answer: this tidily priced F-4.
"All Maverick guitars are produced by applying perimeter manufacturing," explains Maverick's Mark James.
"This means that, instead of using automated CNC machines and producing a number of identical bodies at a time, each body is cut by hand using a combination of a pin-router and good old human interaction. Basically, the shape is drawn on in pencil using our templates, and then in turn carved by hand."
James is a particular fan of John Suhr's high-end guitars and he's used the look and feel as the goal for the F-4.
For example, it offers a composite-shape neck, morphing from a vintage Fender-style 'V' at the nut end to a wider 'D'-shape at the dusty end.
Opting for a dark honey grade of Canadian maple for the neck, it comes with a rosewood 'board that has a 305mm (12-inch) radius and is classily bound in ivoroid. The edges have been rolled and the 22 frets are subsequently very comfortable to get around on.
Interestingly, in respect of Maverick's reputation for producing some of the thinnest necks available anywhere, the feel here is far more substantial and, if you've ever had the chance to play a Suhr, the F-4 isn't actually that far away in the 'feel quality' stakes.
As we've said, each of the F-4's body contours and curves is carved by hand from a two-piece American alder blank – and that goes for the roller-style control indents too.
The remainder of the hardware, the tuners and the bridge, come courtesy of Trevor Wilkinson, with the latter being a custom-designed model made solely for use on this model.
Its subtly angled stainless steel saddles and arm grub screw work well with the Wilkinson Schaller-alike tuners and GraphTech nut to provide smooth operation that works as well for dive-bombs as it does for subtle quiverings.
The h/s/s Alnico V pickups have also benefited from the touch of Mr Wilkinson. Essentially the humbucker combines hotter-than-PAF output but with an Alnico V magnet, as opposed to the ceramic kind that's more common in this style of pickup.
Wilkinson believes this adds a little more warmth to the tone. The two single-coils – the middle is reverse wound/reverse polarity to ensure maximum hum-cancelling in the mixed positions – again use Alnico V magnets and are also classed as 'hot'.
The F-4 does sound purer than expected, but what impresses most is the balance in output between the full humbucker and position two on the five-way lever – a selection that switches in the central single-coil and the bridge facing single-coil of the 'bucker.
This sort of care and attention to detail, though, is typical of Maverick instruments.
The middle pickup tends to get in the way of the pick from time to time and, as all pickups are body rather than spring mounted, this may prove something of a niggle.
But that aside, playing the F-4 is very rewarding.There's no doubt that it can handle a fully-voiced rock tone with ease, but flicking to the clean channel and using the combined neck and middle, you have a perfectly acceptable Knopfler-esque sparkle.
The competitive price should make this guitar extremely popular, but why should you buy this over the wealth of infinitely more famous Ibanez or Yamaha guitars that reside at similar price points?
Well, the company always seems to go overboard on attention to the finer details creating the impression, tone and feel of a far more expensive option.
Okay, so the parts are made in Korea and assembled in the UK, but both Mark James and Trev Wilkinson have spent many hours tutoring the factory to produce exactly what they want and both these guys have been around guitars for a long time: frankly it shows.
The pickups and hardware bear the mark of a frighteningly talented and innovative luthier, and the basic design manages to inject at least a modicum of individuality into an overcrowded area of the market.
If a Tyler, Suhr or other similarly sought-after make is within your budget then forget the F-4 and purchase your dream US guitar. Otherwise £649 should suit the purse strings admirably and you'll own a versatile, impressively made, British-designed electric that pretty much anyone could take to any gig.