Carparelli S4 review

  • £996
The S4's gold and abalone decoration is not exactly subtle.

MusicRadar Verdict

A worthy, if not outstanding addition to the mid-price single-cut market.


  • +

    Modern single-cut design; fast playability; reasonable tones.


  • -

    A couple of constructional issues.

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Conceived by Canadian-based Mike Carparelli, this relatively new brand offers a diverse line of Korean- and domestic-made guitars, and the former are now available in the UK via distributor Big Hug Creative.

With echoes of Aria's PE single-cut about the sloping shoulder to cutaway line, this mahogany/flame maple-topped S4 otherwise follows the Les Paul recipe pretty closely.

And it's dripping with flashy decoration: abalone centred block position markers and purfling around both the fingerboard and body edge married with gold plated hardware, including Schaller-style locking tuners, strap-locks and pickup covers.

The mahogany neck is slim-depthed, very different in feel to a vintage Gibson, but the heel is nicely trim and contoured into the almost Yamaha SG-like cutaway.

The finish is a little thick-looking in certain places and the frets need a final polish. Playability, however, is slick, modern and shred friendly.


There's plenty of kick forthcoming from the pretty high output bridge humbucker, which takes us straight into harder rock territories, but that's balanced by a more classic-sounding neck pickup.

Both produce a lighter mid-range than some similar single-cuts we compared the S4 to. But we're definitely in the big, broad Les Paul ballpark, though to our ears the S4 lacks a little bit of character and subtlety, something that a good single-cut of this type should have in abundance.

Nicely made and a good player, the S4 is nevertheless going to have its work cut out to dent the mid-price single-cut market dominated by the likes of Epiphone, ESP LTD, Schecter, Ibanez and PRS SE.

But with more original designs on the way from the company, not to mention some interesting marketing strategies in the pipeline, Carparelli will be a brand to keep your eye on. [DB]

Dave Burrluck

Dave Burrluck is one of the world’s most experienced guitar journalists, who started writing back in the '80s for International Musician and Recording World, co-founded The Guitar Magazine and has been the Gear Reviews Editor of Guitarist magazine for the past two decades. Along the way, Dave has been the sole author of The PRS Guitar Book and The Player's Guide to Guitar Maintenance as well as contributing to numerous other books on the electric guitar. Dave is an active gigging and recording musician and still finds time to make, repair and mod guitars, not least for Guitarist’s The Mod Squad.