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G23 Corona review

14/5/09

14:37

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COUNTRY SQUIRE SUPER S & SUPER T Fret-King Supremo Trev Wilkinson always maintains that he makes ‘working vintage guitars’, designed from a player’s point of view for guitar players. Tony Simmons looks at two prime examples of that famous Wilkinson philosophy. ike many guitar players I’m sure, the overall look of these Fret-King Blue Blue Label Super S and Super T guitars has a real appeal for me, reflecting my favourite electric guitar style famed for its ‘no frills, no nonsense’ attitude that has provided grass roots guitar sounds for many decades now. And though it wouldn’t be unreasonable to refer to the Super S and Super T guitars as twins, they’re by no means identical twins as each has its own distinct attributes and character.

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the ‘budget’ way to build a guitar, and neither is it cheap to import proper alder from America. Then there’s the Canadian hard rock maple used for the neck and the Indian Rosewood fingerboard... It’s good to see that Trev’s applied ‘comfort contouring’ to what would otherwise be slab bodied instruments, with a nice forearm chamfer across the top bout greatly aiding player comfort - especially over the course of a night’s gig - as does the scoopedout rear ribcage

Construction

FBSTTRB Super T Trans Blue

FBSTBSC Super T Butterscotch

FBSTMLB Super T Metallc Lght Blue

Though they’re single cutaway body guitars with bolt-on necks, straight away Trev Wilkinson’s influence on the formula makes itself obvious; bat wing headstock, stepped top scratchplate, elongated rotary control plate with up-angle pickup selector - and what’s this? - a three brass double string saddle design that can be intonated? Excellent, and more on this later. Wilkinson knows that if this type guitar design is going to work, the fundamentals have to be correct. Thus the body is two-piece centrejointed imported American alder - many alternatives use three or four-piece bodies under a solid colour. Centre-jointing gives the guitars a nicely balanced feel from the matched halves, but already the raw material cost is accelerating, as this certainly ain’t

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carving, both of these echoing Trev’s topof-therange Green Label UK-produced ‘Yardbird’ electric, itself a tribute to guitar legend Jeff Beck’s iconic 60’s guitar which was similarly modified, which always appealed to a young, impressionable Wilkinson. And, like Trev’s other detailing, it works!

Fret-King Super T Let’s take the more straightforward of these two guitar designs first, the twopickup Super T. It’s finished in Metallic Light Blue which really suits the guitar, and it’s interesting to note that during the course of this review, I had more non-guitar playing people come out with an (unprompted) ‘that guitar looks really nice’ than for any other guitar I’ve tried recently. Definitely a reassuring start, as everyone wants to think their ‘guitar of choice’ at least looks the part, don’t they?

The high quality/high value theme continues throughout - tuners are Gotoh® SG38 sealed gear units with a smooth and even action, and an authentic vintage style circular string tree provides a positive break angle over the nut for the top E and B strings. Intonation is always an issue with this style of guitar, but this Super T - and the Super S - feature the unique and innovative Wilkinson WT3 bridge. Constructed from thin gauge steel for authentic tone, it features intonatable machined brass saddles from Trev W for greatly improved intonation, irrespective of string gauge. Proper ‘ashtray’ style bridge housing too, and good to see the heart of any T-type guitar - the bridge pickup, natch - sporting decent diameter, non-staggered height slugs (polepieces) for the provision of that good ol’ T tone, especially when there’s also a steel baseplate under the pickup, as tradition requires for that sound.

In Use It’s easy to feel at home on this guitar, to pull it in tight, dig in, and get some seriously twangsome action going - after all, that’s what’s expected from this style of guitar and if it don’t do that, then it’s no use to anyone. But there’s no disappointment, and that famous barking bridge pickup twang is especially good on the chicken pickin’ workouts. Moving to a more bluesy rock style presents no problems either, thanks to the fat medium-heavy frets fitted here. They are notably chunky and so big, expressive bends are definitely the order of the day! The centre selector pickup position gives you the funk as it should, with that slightly thinner, more transparent tone that’s so useful for funky chord accompaniments. Flicking the selector up and forward to hook up the neck pickup gives everything you play a smoother tonal veneer, a chord freak’s heaven - and that’s me, I love these dark and jazzy tones, with that flutey octave response up around the twelfth fret - sweet. “But why angle the pickup selector like that, Trev?” I asked him. The response is typically pragmatic. “When you’re controlling the volume by riding the volume rotary as you will do with this style of guitar, the natural angle of your hand in that position means that it’s easier for your pinky to hook the selector with that upangle travel,” he smiles. And he’s right thinking about the player again.


G23 Corona review

14/5/09

14:38

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Fret-King Super S Build-wise, the Super S echoes the Super T in many respects, including the intonatable WT3 bridge and those so-neat contours and chamfers adding greatly to the comfort factor. This is, however, definitely a more versatile take on the ‘T’ formula. In the way that many bass players opted for a P/J style of pickup layout and added an additional pickup to give their bass improved tonal versatility, so many guitarists added an extra centre single coil to the twin-pickup T guitar for more sounds. Not that the original formula is lacking in any respect, but if you’re a session player, the more tones you have available under your fingers, the better, especially if it saves you having to lug (yet) another guitar around with you. Not that I can talk, but hey... This time, the up-angle pickup selector lever offers five options - the three ‘standard’ neck, middle and bridge options are all available, along with the funkier, glassy S-type ‘in between’ sounds too - like, if you fancied doing Sultans Of Swing in your covers set, you’d have an authentic Mark Knopfler tone right away with the in-between mid/bridge position 4.

Conclusion In this super-competitive £500- £1000 guitar price category, it’s important that you should try every option you can. Other makes of these types of guitars often exhibit various inconsistencies of build quality and can feel decidedly less than average, but the build quality on these Korean-made Fret-King Blue Labels (and other Blue Label guitars I’ve tried) is always impressively high, with

excellent finish quality and impressive hardware. Trev’s proplayer

approach is always refreshing and always effective. At £649.00 rrp, very much the lower end of the price category referred to above for either the Super T or Super S, the price is right, as the famous TV programme has it. And also, as with the Super T, chunky frets and a reasonable deep C-section neck give the guitar a robust, rugged, going-thedistance feel in use. And the impression is that distance is no object...

‘STVDIO’ & ‘ATELIER’ Series STVDIO Series showcases the inspirational vibe inherent in all Fret-King¤ guitars. Each STVDIO Series guitar is a one off proof of concept instrument, unlikely ever to be exactly repeated. These individual and occasionally experimental instruments embody the talent of Trev Wilkinson as a designer and master builder. To own one of these amazing instruments, created in FretKings UK workshop, is to own a unique, intriguing, interesting and eminently capable guitar of peerless quality.

Spec Check Fret-King Blue Label Super S and Super T

FBSSOCB Super S Original Classic Burst

FBSSTRB Super S Trans Blue

FBSSBSC Super S Butterscotch

Body: Comfort contoured, centre-joined 2-piece American alder Neck: Canadian rock maple Fingerboard: Indian rosewood Machineheads: Gotoh Bridge: Wilkinson WT3 raised edge Controls: Volume, Tone, 3-way pickup selector (5-way Super S) Pickups: (Super T) 2 x Wilkinson s/c; (Super S) 3 x Wilkinson s/c Case: Fret-King luxury padded bag RRP: Super S: £649.00 Super T: £649.00

ATELIER Series showcases the outer limits of the cosmetic embellishments possible with FretKing¤ GREEN LABEL Series guitars. Each ATELIER Series guitar is although created as a virtually one off custom instrument, is available to special order. These individual and occasionally experimental instruments embody the talent of Trev Wilkinson as a designer and master builder. To own one of these supremely beautiful instruments, created in Fret-Kings UK workshop, is to own an ber collectible work of art, as well as an interesting and eminently capable guitar of peerless quality.

Visit: www.fret-king.com/atelier.htm to see more

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Fret-King Country Squire Super S and Super T  

Fret-King Country Squire Super S and Super T Review Gear Magazine Issue 23

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