Posted on29 August 2017 4:14 PM GMT

20 Wishlist Guitars for Your Consideration

Electric GuitarGuitar OwnershipDesirable Guitars
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It should be evident by now that my preferred style of guitar is the doublecut S-type, with relatively few exceptions. My preferred pickups are humbuckers - ideally with some well-defined grunt, and I am very fussy about fretboards (Rosewood / Ebony) and headstock shape. As any guitar aficionado does, I have a rolling wishlist of guitars I desire to acquire - I’m not setting up shop, so the chance of me getting all, or even a significant number of these are slim to none. This is more of a reminder as to what is out there, and what sort of things pique my interest. There are certain body-shapes I really like, and I massively admire Music Man for their progressive direction of late, coming up with a number of incredibly appealing new shapes.

 

There are 4 guitar-makers I am very fond of (alphabetically) - Ibanez, Music Man, PRS and Schecter - and they all feature in this listing. The listing might be somewhat skewed towards PRS at the moment, but that’s where currently most of my interest lies - that and Music Man.

 

I’ve also included a few left-field and hard-to-get-hold-of choices, in fact one not yet released. And another here is more about the possibility of a certain type of guitar rather than necessarily that specific guitar - as will be revealed:

 

Alphabetical by brand:

Caparison Susanoh Ace Signature - out of production - c$4,580

Caparison Susanoh Ace Signature - out of production - c$4,580

Made in Japan

 

Susanoh seems to have cut short his association with Caparison, and as such this guitar is now out of production. I'm not sure how many of these got built, but it does not look like many made it outside of Japan. This is a beautifully proportioned and elegant unique shape of guitar - featuring the finest components, as befits the price - a beautiful guitar all-round - especially in this red, black and gold colourway.

Chapman ML1 RS Rob Scallon - core - £769

Chapman ML1 RS Rob Scallon - core - £769

Made in South Korea (WMIC)

 

I'm a big fan of Rob, Lee, Rabea, Matt and all the other lovely fellows at Chapman Guitars - and I much admire what they do and how they do it - the collaborative and transparently open approach. As much as I like many of their body-shapes, fit, finish and fitments - I have a real bugbear about many of their 'ugly' headstocks. I am not at all a fan of classic T-style headstocks, and the fact that the main Chapman headstock shape is a reverse of that, kind of puts a blocker on most of these. Apart from Rob Scallon's signature guitar - which is beautifully natural, well-balanced and elegant. I also love the 3+3 style of tuner arrangement so it's really a win-win here for me. This also happens to be the most affordable guitar in this current wishlist selection.

Crimson Custom Duchess Lilly - Masterbuild - c£4,000+

Crimson Custom Duchess Lilly - Masterbuild - c£4,000+

Made in UK

 

I've been following Ben Crowe's Dorset-based company for a while, and it's no secret that I sort of have a desire to be involved in the making of my own guitar at some stage - whether I take one of the Crimson 3 month DIY courses or commission a custom build - the cost is roughly the same. There is always of course a significant risk in bespoke guitar manufacture - if you follow the process of famous guitar players and their signature instruments - it often takes 5 or 10 prototypes for them to get their guitar right - and you are attempting the same with just one roll of the dice. If you go to a store and trial 10-15 guitars you will likely find a jewel amongst them, but to be restricted to just one choice - that is its own blessing and curse. I think I need to be a little further down the road of discovery so I know exactly what I would want to get, and then I could mitigate the various challenges and pitfalls around that. I really like the idea of Chris Owen's steady influence on the build - whether I do it myself or they do it for me. Of all the guitars Crimson have built, the pictured one is the one I find the most attractive to-date. I'm not a fan of their stock T-style guitars, and I find most of their headstock shapes not really to my liking. I also often find they err into dangerous territory with their raw series - mixing up different materials which expand and contract very differently (= potential cracks, tuning issues etc.) - they need someone with a little more material science knowledge if they want to continue going down that route. They've built several guitars for Robert Fripp though, and if he rates them, then that's all the assurance you need really.

Fender Japanese Aerodyne Stratocaster - limited edtitions - £809

Fender Japanese Aerodyne Stratocaster - limited edtitions - £809

Made in Japan

 

Some of you may be surprised by how few 'big name' guitars I am interested in, but then again I have always taken a modernist approach to my guitars. My very first guitar was a 'Super-Strat' namely an Ibanez Roadstar RG-440 - so I've always looked to those who are driving things forward and constantly improving and re-inventing rather than resting on their heritage. So with Fender - even though I like the occasional offset type - Jaguar and Jazzmaster, it is still the Strat shape I love best, and if I had to buy a proper 'Strat' it would be one of the limited run Japanese Aerodyne versions. Each year brings one or two limited colourways - using the highest grade Fender components with a few differences. The two key differences being the beautiful curved carve of he body, and the fact that the main body-wood is basswood, you typically always get matching headstocks too, which is a rarity for Fender. This lacquered natural wood finish one from 2015 I believe (pictured) is particularly elegant. Even though I have a huge preference for humbuckers - I still like the core jangly tone of a Fender classic 3-single-coil arrangement, so would not mind adding this one in the slightest

 

Framus Panthera II Supreme - custom - c€6,000+

Framus Panthera II Supreme - custom - c€6,000+

Made in Germany

 

I would not have known about this one but for Henning Pauly - he has a beautiful specimen of this exact same model and colourway. This would be my 'Les Paul' of choice - it looks and sounds absolutely gorgeous, mind you pricey as heck. You get what you pay for I guess.

Frank Hartung Enigma - custom - c€5,000+

Frank Hartung Enigma - custom - c€5,000+

Made in Germany

 

The other German maker I am really fond of - named after the Master Luthier himself - the Enigma is his S-type variety, but he also does an LP-type called the Embrace - which is not a million miles from the above Framus. Overall though I prefer Frank Hartung's Enigma shape for S-type and Framus's Panthera II shape for LP-style. These guitars are typically made to order - hence the high price.

Ibanez MSM1 Marco Sfogli - core - £1,059

Ibanez MSM1 Marco Sfogli - core - £1,059

Made in Indonesia

 

Part of Ibanez's always improving 'Premium' Indonesian range versus the Japan Fujigen-made 'Prestige' range. According to rumours - for cost reasons etc. Ibanez is in the process of moving most of its manufacture out of Japan - meaning they are making a really concerted effort to bring the Indonesian factory wholly up to that level of quality, Most of you will not have heard of Italian Marco Sfogli - a very talented and elegant progressive metal player with lovely tone. His signature guitar is made to the highest specification from unusual woods (Tineo + Wenge + Basswood + Bubinga) and features Ibanez's rather rarely used but brilliant Tremolo system - the SynchoniZR - which I really like. If I were buying an Ibanez today - this would likely be it. It lacks coil split, but otherwise it has everything I would want in a guitar.

Ibanez S6570Q SLG - core - £1,829

Ibanez S6570Q SLG - core - £1,829

Made in Japan

 

At nearly twice the price of the above Marco Sfogli signature, we have this beautiful rounded S-type shape with the best DiMarzio pickups for that classic high-quality Ibanez Sound (Air Norton + True Velvet + Tone Zone). I have always preferred this shape to the more angular RG-style. This is really the finest all-rounder Ibanez you can buy - with loads of tone options and superb build quality. Lovely green-blue colourway too!

Music Man Albert Lee HH - core - £2,119

Music Man Albert Lee HH - core - £2,119

Made in USA

 

Music Man have really hit it out of the park recently with attractive new guitar shapes - which is as difficult an industrial design task as you can imagine. First on the list is the HH version of English-born, but USA-based-country-music legend Albert Lee. A kind of modern interpretation of the S-style doublecut shape - but more angular - very contemporary looking, elegant and well-balanced.

Music Man Majesty Monarchy - core - £3,499

Music Man Majesty Monarchy - core - £3,499

Made in USA

 

Music Man's roster of artists is filled with guitar legends, including many of my favourites - Steve Lukather, Steve Morse, and of course Dream Theater frontman John Petrucci. I really love his most recent signature guitar series - particularly the Majesty version of it, and of course in regal purple. I have a number of John's signature guitar plectrums too - we are evidently tuned in to similar wavelengths. Of all the guitar builders, Music Man and PRS are really in a world of their own for consistent quality of core models. This Monarchy guitar is a complex build, so you need your processes to be water-tight to be able to regularly turn out guitars of this quality. No one has refined the guitar-manufacturing process more than Music Man of late, and this is the fruit as such of those endeavours.

Music Man St. Vincent Stealth - core - £2,434

Music Man St. Vincent Stealth - core - £2,434

Made in USA

 

I am also a huge fan of Annie Clark - aka St Vincent, who has done the impossible for Music Man once again and produced a new and appealing shape of guitar - kind of in the shape of a bow-tie, and a kind of a natural evolution of the Gibson Explorer to a degree. There are lots of clever touches here - in terms of the 3 mini-humbuckers and overall layout. although I am not entirely sure about the triangular nature of the tone and volume pots. If you want to do volume swells, surely it's more advantageous to have round dials here. But that is about the only thing I would change. All Music Man guitars are beautifully appointed, and all come with the highest quality of components, including Schaller locking tuners. It would be difficult for me to decide between the 3 Music Man models listed - each one has something to recommend it.

PRS 513 - core, out of production - c£2,500 to £4,000

PRS 513 - core, out of production - c£2,500 to £4,000

Made in USA

 

The 513 is currently my absolute number 1 dream guitar - 5 separate pickups in HSH arrangement, but which can be configured into 13 different playback modes via twin blade switches. This is a very advanced model of the PRS Core Custom range, and unfortunately they stopped making these a good year ago now. The most sough-after versions have natural / satin rosewood necks, as opposed to gloss-finished maple like most of the range. There is a beautiful lightly used example in flame-grey available at the New Kings Road Vintage Guitar Emporium (Chelsea)- for £3,199. You can typically see these hovering around the £3,500 to £4,000 mark for mint versions - on Reverb.com. At some stage I aim to have one of these to match my dream amp - the MESA/Boogie Mark V - which is around a similar price, and of course still to be acquired - but still in full manufacture though.

PRS DGT Birds of a Feather - Private Stock, out of production - c£10,000

PRS DGT Birds of a Feather - Private Stock, out of production - c£10,000

Made in USA

 

Paul Reed Smith's naming convention is a little odd, as most of its Core guitars are called 'Custom', while the actual custom-spec versions are really 'Artist Pack' editions, and the actual Bespoke or properly special edition ones come under the 'Private Stock' or 'Wood Library' banner. This Dave Grissom special limited edition has some very clever fretboard inlay details - of birds taking off in flight, while the choice of materials etc. is just gorgeous all-round. Of course ridiculously pricey, but if you have the money - why not? Just make sure you play it! A lot of these more expensive PRSs look like Art gallery exhibits, but they are a total waste of the luthiers' skills and attention to detail if these instruments aren't played regularly. Last I looked there were still a couple of these floating around on Reverb.com.

PRS Mark Holcomb - core limited edition - out of production - c£3,000 to £4,000

PRS Mark Holcomb - core limited edition - out of production - c£3,000 to £4,000

Made in USA

 

I have the more affordable SE version of this guitar - same pickups and same neck shape, but alas not those pretty inlays or the beautiful satin fully curved sculpted body - and the figuring on the pictured green top is just out of this world. As much a I love my Korean-made version of this, I would infinitely prefer to get my hands on its predecessor - which was only available for a 3 month period back in 2015. A few of these show up on Reverb.com every now and again, but nothing quite matching the quality of the referenced one. I came across it long after it had been sold.

PRS McCarty 594 - core - c£3,000 to £4,000

PRS McCarty 594 - core - c£3,000 to £4,000

Made in USA

 

Ted McCarty was obviously the guy who was present during Gibson's early heydays in the 50's and 60's and is responsible for many of the innovations that put them on the map. He latterly became a mentor to Paul Reed Smith, and this is his influence on the Core custom models - in effect an LP sounding guitar within a modern PRS doublecut body. I've previously reported that I'm not that keen on the LP-styles - apart really from the Framus Panthera II above. Generally though I will much prefer to take the S-style option - I find it easier to grab the guitar by the horn and it feels better balanced and more open-accessed for playability. So an LP-sounding guitar in a bodyshape I like is the perfect compromise for me. Not sure where it sits on the list of my preferred PRSs - it's obviously below the 513, but not sure if I would put it above a DTG Grissom-style as that is also vintage-voiced and sounds wonderful too.

PRS Orca - Private Stock custom commission - c£10,000+

PRS Orca - Private Stock custom commission - c£10,000+

Made in USA

 

In many respects this is just a classic PRS Custom - more with a DTG controls layout, but most importantly some significant differences in finish. The blue-green ocean-like colour and flame of the body are just astonishingly good, and to match the marine quality of the body we have leaping Killer Whale inlays versus the typical PRS birds. This is another really gorgeous example of what a bespoke PRS Private Stock commission can deliver. I wonder how much it would cost to do a 513 type within this exact finish? Of course you would need to find the right quality of wood first which in itself would be a challenge.

PRS John Mayer Super Eagle II - Private Stock - £10,995

PRS John Mayer Super Eagle II - Private Stock - £10,995

Made in USA

 

The most recent of the PRS guitars featured here - this is a 2017 Private Stock Limited Edition release, and even at that weighty price these have all but sold out already. Another gorgeous guitar from PRS with some really clever John Mayer switching options. I do so hope that all of these went to good homes, and that they will get a regular work-out every now and again. For sure some of these will be investment pieces which kind of just artificially inflates prices for everyone and ruin things for the genuine musicians - no doubting the inherent worth of these guitars - proper gorgeous instruments.

Schecter Nick Johnston Signature - core - £2,570

Schecter Nick Johnston Signature - core - £2,570

Made in USA

 

This is only the second proper Strat-style guitar in this listing - again Henning Pauly is fortunate enough to own one of these - sounds glorious, and that colour combination is magnificent - this guitar is exactly half-vintage and half-modern and very very attractive at that. One of the nicest 'Strats' I've ever seen.

Scott Walker Santa Cruz - custom - $6,750

Scott Walker Santa Cruz - custom - $6,750

Made in USA

 

I've always looked upon the Scott Walker Santa Cruz as a more ornate version of a Custom PRS - beautiful symmetry of body and headstock with lots of lovely detail touches. These are pretty much all made-to-order from the finest materials available and are truly beautiful creations - pricey but worth it I suppose - if you have the funds.

Strandberg Boss V Guitar - prototype - £4,000

Strandberg Boss V Guitar - prototype - £4,000

Made in South Korea (WMIC)

 

I have long been a fan of the headless Strandberg Boden guitars, and now Boss gives you even more reasons to want one - via a forthcoming collaboration. Pictured is the first prototype debuted as this year's Winter NAMM. It is essentially Boss's version of Line 6's Variax technology. Meaning that you have a few extra dials and switches which allow you to change the guitar's tuning on the fly as well as adjust the voicings. No need for coil-splits here - you just digitally manipulate the pickup outputs to all manner of different guitar as well as synth-style voicings. I would be unlikely to have this as my number 1 guitar, but it is perfect for my 2nd or 3rd choice - especially when feeling more experimental.

Stefan
Posted by Stefan
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