Man­son Mikey De­Mus sig­na­ture MD-1 & MD-2 £1,299 & £1,589

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Hugh Man­son could well have be­come (like his brother Andy), an enig­matic uber-cus­tom gui­tar maker with an or­der list as long as both his arms. But while Andy chose the pri­mar­ily acous­tic route, Hugh fol­lowed his rock ’n’ roll DNA, most fa­mously mak­ing a di­verse and eclec­tic num­ber of in­stru­ments for Muse’s Matt Bel­lamy, not to men­tion Zep le­gend John Paul Jones and Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl – in­stru­ments heard and seen by mil­lions. And, along the way, he founded a re­tail store and Man­son Gui­tar Works.

The lat­est pro to be se­duced by Man­son’s charms is Skin­dred’s Mikey De­mus with two closely re­lated mod­els based on Hugh’s sim­ple but hugely func­tional Tele­cast­er­based de­sign. Like the MA mod­els, the wood­work/spray­ing of the MD-1 and MD-2 we have here is done in the Czech Repub­lic. Man­son’s head luthier, Tim Stark, ex­plains more: “Once they ar­rive in the UK they are in­di­vid­u­ally as­signed to each cus­tomer or­der. All the elec­tron­ics work and as­sem­bly are then done in-house with our cus­tom-built cir­cuits and are wired with our new CTS sig­na­ture pots and Sprague orange drop caps.”

Mikey De­mus sig­na­ture MD-1

The highly com­pet­i­tive MD-1 kicks off at £1,199 in Dry Satin Black, al­though our ver­sion comes in its op­tional Atomic Tan­ger­ine, which adds £100. Both fin­ishes have a beau­ti­ful silky sheen when, paired with the toned satin neck, means it’s a com­pletely no-gloss zone. The body, with light fore­arm and rib-cage con­tours, is two-piece alder com­pletely hid­den by the opaque fin­ish. The Fender-style neck, with clas­sic 648mm (25.5in) scale length, screws on in typ­i­cal fash­ion. Near jet-black ebony is cho­sen for the fin­ger­board, which per­fectly matches the sin­gle-ply Deluxe-style scratch­plate that holds the shoul­der-placed three-way tog­gle, in­di­vid­ual pickup vol­ume and tone con­trols plus the neck pick-up.

Go­toh is the cho­sen man­u­fac­turer for the hard­ware – a GTC201 Tele-style bridge with brass block sad­dles and SG381 tuners with height-ad­justable posts that negate the need for string trees. Func­tion is ev­ery­thing, which is hugely im­por­tant for any in­stru­ment that’s go­ing to played and toured. A nice touch is the wheel-style truss-rod ad­just­ment that means tweaks are fast.

Mikey De­mus sig­na­ture MD-2

The MD-2 is a close cousin and starts at £1,449 in our Dry Satin Black fin­ish. It’s graced with an un­usual scratch­plate, which is bead-blasted to give a tex­tu­ral fin­ish. And again that su­perb Tan­ger­ine adds £100. This price up­lift, aside from a lightly flamed

Func­tion is ev­ery­thing, which is hugely im­por­tant for any in­stru­ment that’s go­ing to played and toured

maple neck, is jus­ti­fied by a dif­fer­ent pickup com­ple­ment. While the MD-1 goes for a sin­gle-coil-sized hum­bucker, Dun­can Hot Rails Tele at bridge with a cov­ered Jazz full­size hum­bucker at neck, the MD-2 comes with UK-made Psy­chopaf pick­ups, which we love be­fore we’ve even heard. Why? Any­one who calls a pickup a P-45 Dis­missal gets our vote – al­though the Bri­tish Rail Iced T ‘Bi-rail’ hum­bucker, fit­ted in the bridge here, comes a close sec­ond (paired with their most clas­sic Bench­mark hum­bucker at neck). And while our MD-1 is stock, the MD-2 comes with an op­tional Cy­bertron par­tial pickup cover and larger di­am­e­ter knurled-edge con­trol knobs – for other op­tions see the specs list.

Both builds are very clean not least the fret work from a good medium gauge with nicely filled end-slots and a su­per highly pol­ished sur­face.

Feel & sounds

Nei­ther gui­tar is ul­tra-light in weight, but both feel very pur­pose­ful when strapped on. Typ­i­cally, as with vir­tu­ally ev­ery mod­ern Man­son solid­body we’ve played, both have a lovely vi­brant and strong acous­tic re­sponse. Both necks have a well­shaped full ‘C’ pro­file and quite beefy feel

the MD-2 is a fine sur­prise. no, it doesn’t cap­ture the depth of a jazzbox, but its warm clar­ity cov­ers plenty of jazz­ier styles

– ap­prox­i­mately 43.5mm at the nut, a shade un­der 22mm deep at the first fret fill­ing out to nearly 24mm by the 12th.

The MD-1’s Dun­can sounds pretty fa­mil­iar if we’re hon­est, with the big midrange beef of the dual-rail Hot Rails – with its cocked wah char­ac­ter – a nearper­fect shoo-in for big walls of crunch and dis­tor­tion. Clean, well, you sort of won­der if you’re on the bridge pickup, for it’s thick with quite a rounded high end. Plug in the MD-2, how­ever, and it’s a dif­fer­ent flavour with a lower out­put, a lighter voic­ing and in com­par­i­son a lot more Tele-like.

The MD-1’s Jazz drops us nicely into Les Paul neck space, cleaner in the low end as you’d ex­pect per­haps from the con­struc­tion and the place­ment slightly fur­ther to­wards the bridge. The MD-2’s neck pickup is close, but again has a lit­tle less thick­ness and slightly more clar­ity. These dif­fer­ent voic­ings ob­vi­ously af­fect the mid­dle po­si­tions and the MD-1 again sounds thicker, the MD-2 has more clar­ity. But both sets are well cho­sen with a bal­anced grad­u­a­tion through the three dis­tinct tones.

3 3. The MD-1 uses a com­ple­ment of Sey­mour Dun­can pick­ups – Hot Rail sin­gle-coil-sized hum­buck­ers at the bridge with a DCR of 15.55k, paired with a cov­ered Jazz full-sized ’bucker at the neck with a more clas­sic DCR of 7.39k ohms


2 1. Man­son gui­tars are known for their playa­bil­ity and sharp fin­ish­ing de­tails. The medium-gauge frets are well-in­stalled and highly pol­ished. It al­most plays it­self… 2. No dis­pute what you’re get­ting here. The MD is based on the Tele­caster but with nu­mer­ous stageready fea­tures, not least the height-ad­justable Go­toh tuners, which do away with string trees

4 4. These low-pro­file, knurled-edge knobs are one of the cus­tom op­tions you can spec for your MD. Man­son of­fers wiring mods too. Good to see at this price-point

5 5. Al­though the par­tial cover here hints at a Gretsch-style hum­bucker, the Psy­chopaf Bench­mark is their most clas­sic de­sign with a mea­sured DCR of 8.42k ohms. “All the great clas­sic tones but with some ex­tra edge… and just a lit­tle at­ti­tude”

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