Antoria Telstar Deluxe review

Playable and affordable... Does this guitar have it all?

  • £279
The P90IV pickups sound a lot more expensive than they actually are

MusicRadar Verdict

Affordable and versatile, with zero sacrifices made in looks or sound. The budget market may just have found its new champion.


  • +

    Excellent value for money. Very versatile, tonally. Finish looks great. Neck is easy to play.


  • -

    Not much.

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For one of the lesser-known guitar brands, Antoria sure has an awful lot of history. Its introduction to the UK market stretches as far back as the 1950s, when Hank Marvin was spotted using its Strat copy in the early days of The Shadows, or - as they were known back then - The Drifters.

Soon followed the inimitable likes of Jeff Beck and session wizard Big Jim Sullivan, impressed by the sheer quality of the then-Japanese-made instruments. But of the brand's claims to fame, perhaps the biggest is the appearance of the J-200 acoustic in Britpop's defining moment of glory during the 90s: the Oasis video for hit single Wonderwall. If they're good enough for Noel Gallagher...

"The P90IV soapbar pickups are deliciously creamy and highly responsive"

Today, Antoria guitars are made in South Korea under the watchful gaze of Tim Gentle Music, which bought the brand in 2010 and is based in Stockton-On-Tees.

The first thing that you'll undoubtedly notice with this Telstar Deluxe is the price tag. It undercuts pretty much everything out there, yet gives little away in terms of aesthetics.

If anything, the quilted maple top (presumably a veneer), finished in deep purple, oozes the allure of velvet majesty, and the two f-holes add the final touch.

More surprising still is how it sounds. The P90IV soapbar pickups are deliciously creamy and highly responsive. The neck option sounds typical of the mahogany body: thick and full, but with an added airiness that cuts through the darkness courtesy of the maple cap.

Roll the tone down and you'll move through warmer classic-rock lead tones to soft, muted jazz sounds that retain a healthy amount of articulation. The middle pickup position unlocks an almost out-of-phase-sounding tone that could cover a fair amount of single-coil ground.

And the soapbars soften the shrillness often found with T-style guitars on full treble: the Telstar Deluxe thankfully won't take people's ears off when you kick in a boost, but there's still that jangliness perfectly suited to indie rockers.

Blues hounds will also find much to admire - there's certainly enough sustain and heat to get those amps cooking. It may not be aimed at your average metal fan, but it can more than hold its own in higher gain territory, too, especially for fans of warmer fusion sounds.

The bolt-on nato neck has 22 frets and a rosewood fingerboard that presents little challenge to play, aided by our review model's low-action factory setup. More importantly, the Telstar feels like a sturdy guitar to have in your hands.

Tuning is stable and feedback's not a problem unless you really go hell for leather on distortion, where it reacts as most semi-hollows would.

Antoria's Telstar Deluxe is worthy of its legacy and could happily fend off competition from guitars over twice its price tag.

Amit Sharma

Amit has been writing for titles like Total GuitarMusicRadar and Guitar World for over a decade and counts Richie Kotzen, Guthrie Govan and Jeff Beck among his primary influences. He's interviewed everyone from Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy to Slash and Jimmy Page, and once even traded solos with a member of Slayer on a track released internationally. As a session guitarist, he's played alongside members of Judas Priest and Uriah Heep in London ensemble Metalworks, as well as handling lead guitars for legends like Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols, The Faces) and Stu Hamm (Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, G3).