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Even below £500, the build quality of semis manufactured from laminated maple has improved to the point where we’d happily gig any member of this foursome (so long as the Artcore’s vibrato was sorted).
What’s more, we’re confident that we’d be safe from derision from baying rockabilly crowds. On the face of it, the Gretsch seems the obvious choice. It’s very affordable, it looks very authentic and even though the tone is bereft of the required level of twang a Filter’Tron or DeArmond pickup would offer, the sheer performance level should satisfy even the most demanding fifties throwback.
After all, what fledgling rockabilly merchant wouldn’t want a genuine Gretsch? The Schecter Corsair is a double-cut that also boasts a hefty mahogany centre block and, if we’re being honest, it’s more suited to rock and blues styles than kinetic rockabilly.
However, it’s a truly gorgeous player that knocks the vast majority of Epiphone semis into a cocked hat. It’s also possible to obtain a spikier tone thanks to the provision of coil-splits.
As the chubbiest semi of this quartet, the Rockingham gives the warmest, fattest tone and, again, would be the perfect tool for jazz, even though the pickups are good enough to respond authentically to heightened treble settings. What’s more, its modest price tag, almost unbelievably, includes a fully-fitted hard case - now that’s what we call value.
Giving probably the most faithful fifties tone is the Ibanez Artcore and, with a slimline body and the coolest set of decal graphics we’ve seen in a while, it’s in with a shout of receiving our highest recommendation.
Sadly, the set-up made it all but unplayable and although we know enough about Ibanez to concede that this is likely to be restricted to our example, it’s a real shame.
We may have given the Gretsch the highest rating, but as each instrument here has its own voice and look, we’re certain that any of them will allow you to effortlessly open doors to rockabilly, jazz, blues and more.
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