What is it?
Relish's designs take the electric guitar to places where it hasn't been before. The Swiss-made electrics are typically hollow, hi-tech, with features wherever you look.
The thing is: they are incredibly expensive and made in small numbers. Trinity By Relish looks to address this by taking the Swiss-designed high-concept electric, simplifying it a little, and outsourcing the manufacturing to Indonesia. This allows Relish to debut a solidbody electric that's hardly cheap but is at least within range of ordinary salaries.
Crucially, it retains the pull-out/push-in pickup swapping system that we first encountered on the Eucalypt Mary. At this price point, that marks it as something unique, but even before you get to the electrics, the Trinity is something different.
Technically, it's an offset but that waist position does not call much attention to itself. You've got a largely flat back with a contour for the ribs and a heavy edge radius around the perimeter of the body. Seated or standing, it is exceptionally comfortable, well-balanced and lightweight.
The body shape will be familiar to those familiar to the Swiss-made Jane and Mary models but its singlecut silhouette is far and away from existing templates. The body itself is made from basswood and is available in three gloss metallic finishes.
There's a sense of clean minimalism to the Trinity. The bridge is a tidy little through-body hardtail number, very much in the Strat-style. There is a three-position blade switch, master volume and tone controls and no pickguard. When you flip the guitar over you can easily access the pickup-swapping feature.
Relish's instructions say it all as to how easy this is: “You simply pop off the magnetic back lip of the guitar, pull out the pickup with two fingers and put in the new swapping-ready pickup. It takes no more than a couple of seconds."
And that's it: no soldering, no taking the strings off, the pickguard, any of that. It's nice and easy, and sure to be the talking point surrounding this guitar.
We have also got a generous scale length of 25.59" – it feels Fender-esque – and a 24-fret laurel fingerboard to explore. Medium-jumbo is how the fret gauge is described, and it sure does find the sweet spot between height and width. The dot inlay is nice and understated.
The Trinity By Relish is built by Cor-Tek, who also build guitars for Ibanez and Paul Reed Smith's SE series – plus those under its own brand, Cort – and the finish is as you might expect.
The neck is satin smooth, cut from rift-sawn maple, and while the fingerboard radius is listed as a moderately flat, PRS-style 10", it feels a little more rounded than we are used to on a lot of modern builds. The headstock is well proportioned, with a back angle that keeps the string tension solid over what is a tidy graphite nut.
Upper-fret access is exceptional. The neck itself is attached good and tight via a three screws in inset washers. It feels reassuringly stiff.
Peformance and Verdict
It is rare indeed to be able to say that a guitar's pickups are a moveable feast, but with the Trinity By Relish that is part of the appeal. It ships with two sets of pickups, and there is the option to buy more compatible sets from the likes of Seymour Duncan and Bare Knuckle in addition to further Relish-designed options.
There is a central brass threaded bolt to pull on and remove each pickup. Simply pickup your other pickup and push it in, and four small magnets the each corner of the plastic frame will hold it in place with a companion frame on the guitar.
For the first 500 guitars in the run, the Trinity ships with Relish's XX humbuckers plus a set of Relish humbucker-sized P-90s, but our model arrived with Relish’s XV humbuckers and a set of Relish Single Coils.
These Relish pickups are made by PSE Pickups, like many pickups used on Cor-Tek’s Indonesian builds. We also had a set of Seymour Duncan Alnico II humbuckers in the box, too. Switching them in and out is a lot of fun, and is an ideal solution for those of use who always feel between sounds.
Those playing a wide range of styles – wedding bands, we're looking at you – would get a lot of joy from the pickup swapping, but is there a guitarist on the planet who doesn't at one point or another wish they could quickly change the voice of their instrument as the impulse takes them?
There's a sense that the Trinity By Relish is very much a blank canvas. That the pickups can be swapped out so easily supports this idea that, really, anyone should be able to get a tune out of it. And yet there's something future-forward about the minimalist design allied to its proportions. The 24-fret format, the 'modern C' neck profile, the medium-jumbo frets... It's all very contemporary in feel.
The choice of a string-through body hardtail as opposed to, say, a Floyd, feels in keeping with the fuss-free pickup swapping feature, as though everything here is practical; quite literally, this is a plug-in-and-play guitar.
The neck is shreddable but it's not the sort of emaciated profile you might find on an Ibanez. Think Fender's American Pro series, measuring in at around 21mm at the first fret and fleshing out to a very respectable 25.5m by the 12th fret.
How the Trinity sounds depends, of course, on what pickups you have in at any given time. With the Relish XV humbuckers, you'll get a fairly hot experience. They have a nice and toothy aggression that's ideal for crunchy rock tones, and hot enough for metal, too, and yet there's a nice musicality to them as you roll the volume back.
The Seymour Duncans? Well, you know what you are getting from them, and they work well with the Trinity's basswood frame, bringing in a little more clarity and an openness in the bridge position particularly. Classic rock and blues-rock players don't need telling again how the Alnico IIs perform.
• Relish Bloody Mary
A hugely interesting design for the player and collector who appreciates the craft of the instrument and doesn't want yet another 'me-too' electric.
• Shergold Masquerader 4
Here’s a guitar, not least in this classic ‘bucker combination, that’s got ‘gig me’ stamped all over it, with great feel, great playability and enough versatility to cover most of your gigs
As you might expect, the Relish Single Coils transform the voice, with a nice glassy clarity and a sharpness that really cuts through. The ability to mix and match the Single Coils with the humbuckers makes for a very attractive proposition. If you had a set of humbuckers, single-coils and P-90s, you'd have pretty much all options at your disposal.
That said, pickups are only as good as the guitar they sit in. Comparatively, the Trinity sounds a little underpowered when up against, say, a Les Paul Classic, whose Burstbuckers seem too offer a little more juice. Or, indeed, any good Strat, whose precise attack offers a character that's immediately recognisable.
Maybe this goes back to what we said about the body shape at the start; the Trinity is not for those who are looking for a format we are already familiar with. Some people don't want that Strat tone, or that Les Paul tone... Many others do. It's a question of taste and what you need for your style.
For many of us, our style and tone is forever a work in progress, so you can imagine what swapping pickups between songs could do for you. Live, or especially when recording, that could be an invaluable resource, and might just solve the puzzle as to what is missing in your mix.
The Trinity By Relish is still quite a pricey guitar by Cor-Tek standards but when you consider the Swiss-made Relish guitars retail for €4,868, it makes it a viable option – a choice when looking for a production line US-made model. To make the most of the pickup swapping, you're going to need to buy some pickups. At €299 a set, that's not cheap. It is cheaper than a new guitar, though, and that's what Relish is counting on.
And besides, they've done the hard part already, building a clever concept that could well revolutionise electric guitar design should it be rolled out more widely and by different brands. If you are a tone-seeker, a pro playing in many different styles, this might be just what you need.
MusicRadar verdict: If you like the cut of the Trinity By Relish's very playable modernist gib, investing in those extra pickup sets to make the most of the pickup-swapping concept is very tempting indeed.
The web says
"What the Trinity offers, then, is a remarkably diverse set of tones – of which some are admittedly better than others – for less than you’d probably pay for a couple of fixed-pickup guitars of comparable quality. But now imagine it with Filter’Trons, gold foils, toaster tops… this thing has huge potential."
Darrell Braun Guitar
- PRICE: €1,614 (inc gigbag)
- ORIGIN: Indonesia
- TYPE: Single-cutaway solidbody electric
- BODY: Basswood
- NECK: Maple bolt-on, modern ‘C’ shape
- SCALE LENGTH: 650mm (25.59”)
- NUT/WIDTH: Graphite/41.8mm
- FINGERBOARD: Laurel, pearloid dot markers, 254mm (10”) radius
- FRETS: 24, medium jumbo stainless steel
- HARDWARE: Hard-tail six-saddle bridge w/through-body stringing, enclosed tuners – chrome-plated
- STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 52mm
- ELECTRICS: 2x Relish XV humbuckers (as reviewed), 3-way lever pickup selector, master volume and tone. Additional pickup sets tested: Relish Single Coil, Seymour Duncan Alnico II HB Pro
- WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3.0/6.6
- OPTIONS: Various pickup sets from Relish, Bare Knuckle and Seymour Duncan are available from €299. NB: “The pre-order Trinity comes with a standard set of swappable Relish XX pickups, a well-balanced and punchy humbucker duo,” says Relish. “Also included is a duo of Relish P-90 single-coil pickups that will be shipped along with the guitar”
- RANGE OPTIONS: The Swiss-made models also feature the pickup-swap concept: Jane (€6,349), Mary (€5,512) and Mary One (€4,868). Custom one-off Platinum instruments also available (POA)
- LEFT-HANDERS: No
- FINISHES: Metallic red (as reviewed), blue, black. High-gloss body, natural satin neck
- CONTACT: Relish Guitars