Made in Switzerland, Relish can’t be accused of referencing too much from the past with its Jane and Mary designs, which we looked at in issue 412. Relish Jane centres on an aluminium core to which a more conventional maple neck is bolted; the body form is created with a moulded laminate front and back. She’s a costly date (from £3,799). Enter Mary: more straightforward with a three-layer (alder core with laminate top and back) slab body. It’s now called Wood Mary (£1,699) because this year the company has added Aluminium Mary (from £1,999), which sits between the two and comes with an optional Graph Tech Ghost piezo system, as shown here.
Like its wooden sibling, Aluminium Mary uses Relish’s ‘floating sandwich construction’ – the top and back separated from the core with ‘industrial rubber rings’, which, says Relish,“allows the aluminium centre to vibrate freely and produce an increased resonance, similar to a soundboard inside of a piano. The back is attached to the centre using industrial magnets for easy access to the electronics.” Pull the back off to see the superbly machined aluminium core and the components, the Emerson electronics and the battery for the piezo circuit. It’s extremely tidy. Thankfully, the neck is much more conventional with a great-feeling ‘C’ shape and beautifully smooth silky satin natural finish. The fingerboard looks like rosewood, but is an eco-friendly dark woven bamboo; frets are medium-gauge stainless steel, impeccably installed.
Acoustically, it’s quiet, but listen closely and the sound is well balanced with almost hollowbody-like resonance and depth married with considerable and crisp solidbody-like sustain. The Graph Tech Ghost piezo system produces a modern acoustic-like sound that’s way more Pat Metheny than rootsy Seasick Steve. The magnetics seem a little low in output but match the piezo perfectly when you mix them via either the mono mixed output or with a stereo Y lead into two amps.
Once you get used to Mary, she’s a beguiling companion. There’s a subtle compression to her magnetic voice that adds some sophistication to jazzier/fusion sounds from the neck pickup; the sparkly mix sounds very LA, especially running through some modulations and reverbs from a Helix LT. With an older rootsier setup, there’s a hint of Rickenbacker in the slightly rounded high-end, which works well for arpeggiated or strummed parts. While it needs a little extra oomph, the bridge pickup gets us from jangly crunch through to mega-gained solos with ease. And, after giving it a good gained workout, we took a break and plugged it back into our AER with the neck magnetic underpinning the piezo – it reminded us of Joe Pass’s ‘is it an electric or acoustic tone?’ We can only conclude, it sounds like a Relish.
Pull off the back and you can see the innovative construction and access the electronics. It’s all beautifully done Relish’s ‘floating sandwich construction’ uses an aluminium core and ‘high-pressure veneer’ top and back. It’s slightly thinner than the Wood Mary at 40mm and weighs 3.86kg (8.5lb) Our sample has the optional Graph Tech Ghost piezo system, which adds £500 to the base price. It’s controlled by a single volume with pull/push voicing option These Relish XV humbuckers are made by Good Tone in Switzerland; similarly boutique are the Emerson electronics It looks like rosewood, but is, says Relish, “dark strand woven bamboo [that is] environmentally sustainable [and also] extremely resilient to changes in humidity” Stainless steel frets are standard; the ’board radius is 305mm (12 inches) and the scale length is 650mm (25.59 inches) 1