REVIEWS

Fret-King Elise Custom with Classic Vibrato | Review

Published 5 months ago on October 1, 2023

By Guitar Interactive Magazine

Fret-King Elise Custom with Classic Vibrato

MSRP: (UK) £1099 / (US) $TBC

The Elise is one of Fret-King's most elegant styles. Ergonomic, classic lines, familiar, yet forward-looking. The thin-line semi-acoustic guitar is one of the great workhorses of the electric player's arsenal. The Fret-King Elise Custom, with vintage style vibrato, is the latest in a long line of Elise variants. With its offset, chambered mahogany body, carved, tuned maple cap, the Elise is light, strong, and resonant. Sam Bell reviews.

In this review, I'll be taking a look at the 'Elise Custom' from Fret-King. This is a neat small semi-hollow body guitar with classic looks and sounds with a few hidden extras.

Out of the box our, we're treated to a lovely Red top on the Mahogany body, two classic F holes and most notably, the big classic Vibrato arm system. This system is based on the classic style terms of the 1950s found on similar guitar designs. It doesn't use springs (for example: like a Stratocaster Vibrato System) instead, the bridge is connected to a cleverly bent piece of metal which moves when you press the vibrato arm. This allows for surf like shimmer on open chords and sweet vibrato on single notes, allowing you to add a little extra to your playing. Instantly I'm taken back to images of 1950s Surf Rock 'n Rollers on the covers of old Vinyl's, although perhaps more telling of my age, I'm also taken back to Marty McFly in 'Back to the Future'.

The Guitar body itself, as mentioned is a semi-hollow mahogany body with maple cap. The set neck is also Mahogany with Indian Rosewood fingerboard. The guitar is gloss finished all over, including the soft C shape neck. The red finish is accented with a nice cream binding. The angled headstock features some uniquely shaped Wilkinson WJ04 tuners which stay sturdy through all of our bending and vibrato arm antics.

Playing wise, the guitar is a dream. Due to the semi-hollow design, the notes have a lovely 'pop' to them when digging in, there's a special kind of sustain that is satisfying to play with. The icing on the cake here is the very flat feeling 10' inch radius fretboard with rolled medium frets over a 24,7 inch scale length, making bending and fretting feel luxury.

When it comes to the electronics, everything seems pretty standard at first glance. We have 2 Trev Wilkinson designed 'Fifty-Five' pickups, these are fat sounding double coil pickups with plenty of twang and width. These are controlled by the 3 way pick up switch and 3 control knobs… 3 you say? First of we have the volume, which is standard volume. The Master Tone is also a phase switch, allowing us to get a slightly more scooped and twangy tone if we desire. Then there is the Vari-Coil control, this allows us to 'wind' the pickup up or down to either double or single coils. There seems to be a few Fret King guitars with this feature, the winding up/down will be different depending on what type of pick ups are in the model. However, for the Elise Custom, this allows us to wind 'down' from double to single coil sounds. For my ears, this leads to a tasteful thinning out sound, with a little less output; however, this presents us with different tonal opportunities for different eras of sonic exploration.

The electronics add some more versatility to this instrument. When coupled with its unique yet classic appearance, this is certainly a crafty instrument. Perfect for your 1950s rock and roll all the way through to more contemporary surf/blues inspired alternative music. It's not always recommended to use a semi-hollow body with high gain, but it does seem to take those tones quite well at lower volumes. One of the cool benefits of a semi-hollow is the ability to create unique kinds of feedback, which can add sustain and overtones to our playing.

All of this, for a reasonable price and gig bag. If you're looking for something quirky, classic yet abstract, check out the Elise Custom from Fret-King!

For more information, please visit:

Fret-King®

 

 


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