"The MT-1 Custom is a well-made, highly playable guitar that is ideal for contemporary players seeking a high-performance model on a budget": Soloking MT-1 Custom review

This new budget brand is taking on the big guns with high-end specs and flashy looks – but is it enough to be crowned the new king of the affordable guitar space?

Soloking MT-1 Custom review
(Image: © Future/Daryl Robertson)

MusicRadar Verdict

Overall, we were very impressed with the quality on offer from Soloking. Is this guitar perfect? Not quite. We experienced a couple of minor issues with the finishing on our review example, but at this price point, we really can’t complain – we’ve certainly encountered very similar issues from the more established brands in this price category.

Pros

  • +

    Superb playability

  • +

    Highly spec’d for the price

  • +

    Plenty of “high-end” features

Cons

  • -

    We spotted a couple of finishing blemishes

  • -

    The fret ends could be dressed better

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Soloking MT-1 Custom review: What is it?

With the cost of new guitars spiralling out of control in recent years, it’s never been more critical for retailers to offer players an alternative to the expensive models from the big-name brands – and that’s where Soloking comes in. 

Unfamiliar with Soloking? Well, let us fill you in. Soloking established themselves in 2015 and has a pretty noble mission statement. Simply put, Soloking are looking to provide custom shop quality instruments at a much more affordable price point. 

Manufacturing guitars in Huizhou, China, there are a wealth of models available on their website from faithful creations of classic styles to contemporary updates of S and T-type guitars. However, to purchase a guitar in the UK, you need to go through Andertons. The Guildford-based music retailer is the exclusive dealer for the budget brand in the UK and Europe and currently stocks various Soloking electric guitars and basses

The model we are taking a look at today is the MT-1 Custom, which is decked out with a myriad of modern appointments. The classic T-type body is topped with a striking flame maple veneer and loaded with a 2-point floating Wilkinson tremolo and a duo of Alan Entwistle Neodymium humbuckers – which are of course, coil splittable. The stunning roasted maple neck features a comfortable slim “D” profile, 22 jumbo stainless steel frets and Wilkinson locking tuners. 

Soloking MT-1 Custom review: Performance and verdict

Soloking MT-1 Custom review

(Image credit: Future/Daryl Robertson)

One look at the MT-1 Custom and it’s pretty obvious who the intended audience is – this clearly isn’t your grandpappy's Telecaster. This is a modern axe that’s been specially designed to meet the demands of a modern player – and that comes with a very specific aesthetic. 

The amber hue of the Edgeburst finish perfectly compliments the fiery flame maple top, while the roasted maple neck puts us in mind of other high-performance brands such as Charvel or Suhr. While we are on the topic of Suhr, the headstock that crowns the MT-1 looks remarkably close to that of the Californian guitar maker.  

Soloking MT-1 Custom review

(Image credit: Future/Daryl Robertson)

Okay, so we believe it looks the part, but how does it perform? Thankfully, we are happy to report that the Soloking MT-1 Custom isn’t all style over substance – this guitar plays remarkably well. 

Opting for a slim “D” profile, this guitar fits our hand like a glove and makes short work of lead runs or drop-tuned riffage. Our review model came very well set up straight out of the box, with a nice low action and a rather slinky feel. We did, however, experience a couple of very minor issues. 

There is a rather unsightly blemish on the neck near the 12th fret. This isn’t a big deal for us at all, but as it is in our direct line of sight, it’s difficult to ignore. Also, we experienced slightly sharp frets along the underside of the neck. Now, don’t get us wrong, these are nowhere near the worst we’ve seen, but it is worth pointing it out. A skilled luthier would be able to take care of this in a couple of minutes so it's nothing to worry about.

Soloking MT-1 Custom review

(Image credit: Future/Daryl Robertson)

Yes, these pickups are hot, but they aren’t devoid of character.

When it comes to affordable guitars, many players like to use them as a base model to modify and customize to their needs – and most will start by upgrading the hardware. Thankfully, there’s no need with the MT-1 as this guitar already comes equipped with a Wilkinson two-point tremolo unit and matching locking tuners. If you are familiar with these popular aftermarket parts, you’ll be well aware of how solid they feel. The trem was super smooth and the machine heads felt suitably robust. 

Moving on to the pickups, we are greeted with a set of Alan Entwistle Dark Star Neodymium humbuckers. Given this guitar’s aesthetic, we were expecting a pair of face-melting pickups with enough power to peel the paint off the walls – and we were pleasantly surprised with what we got. 

Yes, these pickups are hot, but they aren’t devoid of character. They are bright and sparkly, with a pleasant top-end and a fierce mid-range bark that makes them very well suited for super saturated high-gain tones. On the Alan Entwistle website, they describe these pickups as “quite possibly the world's most powerful passive humbuckers” and while we certainly don’t agree with that statement, they are a great-sounding set of humbuckers and a brilliant addition to this guitar. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be a modern guitar without the ability to split the coils. Pulling up the guitar’s single tone control will grant you access to a plethora of single-coil sounds that are dynamic and full of top-end shimmer – and when used in conjunction with the 5-position blade switch, the tonal possibilities seem endless.  

Final verdict

Soloking MT-1 Custom review

(Image credit: Future/Daryl Robertson)

Overall, we were very impressed with the quality on offer from Soloking. Is this guitar perfect? Not quite. We experienced a couple of minor issues with the finishing on our review example, but at this price point, we really can’t complain – we’ve certainly encountered very similar issues from the more established brands in this price category. 

At the end of the day, the MT-1 Custom is a well-made, highly playable guitar that is ideal for contemporary players seeking a high-performance model on a budget - it may even be one of the best electric guitars under $500 we played in a long time. 

Soloking MT-1 Custom review: Hands-on demos

Andertons 

Soloking

Soloking MT-1 Custom review: Specifications

  • Body Material: Alder
  • Body Construction: Solid Body
  • Body Shape: T-Style
  • Top Material: Flame Maple Veneer
  • Neck Material: Roasted Maple
  • Neck Shape: Modern “D”
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Fingerboard: Roasted Maple
  • Fingerboard Radius: 9.5”
  • Frets: 22 Jumbo Stainless Steel
  • Nut: Nubone XB
  • Pickups: Alan Entwistle Dark Star Neodymium Humbuckers 
  • Controls: Master Volume, Master Tone Coil Tap
  • Switching: 5-way Position Blade
  • Bridge: Wilkinson WV2 SB 2-Point Tremolo
  • Tuners: Wilkinson WJN-07-CR SP LK Locking Tuners
  • Contact: Soloking 
Daryl Robertson
Senior Deals Writer

I'm a Senior Deals Writer at MusicRadar, and I'm responsible for writing and maintaining buyer's guides on the site - but that's not all I do. As part of my role, I also scour the internet for the best deals I can find on gear and get hands-on with the products for reviews. My gear reviews have also been published in prominent publications, including Total Guitar and Future Music magazines, as well as Guitar World.


I have a massive passion for anything that makes a sound, particularly guitars, pianos, and recording equipment. In a previous life, I worked in music retail, giving advice on all aspects of music creation and selling everything from digital pianos to electric guitars, entire PA systems, and ukuleles. I'm also a fully qualified sound engineer who holds a first-class Bachelor's degree in Creative Sound Production from the University of Abertay and I have plenty of experience working in various venues around Scotland.