Guitarist

Horses For Courses

Some guitars hit the sweet spot of do-it-all versatilit­y and real-world price points. Here are a dozen that will have you covered, regardless of your budget

- Words Stuart Williams

SQUIER PARANORMAL ESQUIRE DELUXE £375

What’s cooler than a regular Tele? A Telecaster with a 70s-style full-face scratchpla­te. In fact, this poplar-body/maple-neck reimagined Esquire tells the tale of Leo’s blueprint model, had it been designed 20-odd years later. As such, it’s got a Wide Range humbucker, but there’s some switching tricks up its sleeve with a coil-split as well as control bypass positions on the three-way rotary control. Get it in the none-more-70s Mocha or Metallic Black nishes. www.fender.com

GRETSCH G2215-P90 STREAMLINE­R JUNIOR JET CLUB £399

This model boils down everything we’re after in a multi-purpose single-cut to a, frankly, ridiculous price. Let go of your ‘tonewood’ snobbery; £399 gets you more than a taste of the Gretsch vibe, with a Broad’Tron BT-2S humbucker at the bridge, the added ‘neckiness’ of a P-90 in the neck position, simple master volume/tone controls, and a rock-solid wraparound compensate­d bridge. www.gretschgui­tars.com

GORDON SMITH GS1 FROM £999

There are workhorses and then there are oxen – and the Gordon Smith GS1 is the latter. Built to keep going forever with few ‘frills’ but plenty of thrills, the base spec uses an open-pore natural nish, with mahogany all round and a rosewood ’board. The single humbucker is an in-house GSG, but you can personalis­e your GS1 in nearly every way, from the neck prole down to the string gauge, with 24 selectable options on the website. www.gordonsmit­hguitars.com

SHERGOLD TELSTAR STANDARD ST14 £379

The Telstar Standard will draw you in with its slightly slanted T-style looks, including that poplar body’s raised centre channel and enough metal to make Jaws feel inadequate. But you’ll stay after the realisatio­n that this guitar is packing some serious rock ’n’ roll tone, straight from the brain of Patrick James Eggle at just £379. The Page FilterSoni­cs lean towards traditiona­l ’bucker tone but cover a lot of ground; we love the contoured neck heel, too. www.shergoldgu­itars.com

PRS SE CE 24 STANDARD SATIN £499

PRS is making guitar-buying decisions easy with a model seemingly on every rung. Here, the SE CE 24 is whittled down to a Standard series with a satin nish, carved mahogany body and bolt-on maple neck with rosewood ’board (plus bird inlays). It has 24 frets and includes a PRS vibrato and 85/15S Treble and Bass humbuckers, complete with coil-splitting, once again proving the SE range represents some of the best-value guitars in their price bracket. www.prsguitars.com

CHARVEL PRO-MOD RELIC SAN DIMAS STYLE 1 HH FR PF £1,259

Charvel remains true to its California­n hot-rodding roots with this new Relic edition San Dimas Style 1, which looks like it’s been pulled from bits wombled o– the Sunset Strip sidewalk circa 1985. The neck features graphite reinforcem­ent and a compound radius ’board, and you get a JB/’59 pairing, plus, of course, a Floyd Rose. Available in Weathered Orange, Black or White. www.charvel.com

PJD CAREY STANDARD £1,299

The Carey Standard from PJD is really pushing the limits of what can be done on these shores without busting the bank. The lightweigh­t obeche body, dressed in nitrocellu­lose, removes the dreaded single-cut spinal curve, while the bolt-on maple neck is nicely contoured and tted with 22 Jescar frets. You get a Gotoh hardtail bridge and tuners, and the combinatio­n of PJD Wadfather and Parkins Cream P-90 pickups will handle most scenarios. www.pjdguitars.com

MANSON MA JUNIOR £1,399

Manson’s UK-made single-pickup Junior range is by no means ‘barebones’. The MA body shape is lightweigh­t and comfortabl­e, and it’s sleek in that Dry Satin Black nish. The comfort continues with the maple neck and its ‘soft-V’ pro le (with a plain rosewood ’board). But while the Manson Dirty Rascal humbucker is on its tod, there’s series/parallel switching for its coils via the Mojo switch as well as a kill button. Plus, Gotoh hardware and a Mono gigbag. www.mansonguit­arworks.com

GIBSON LES PAUL JUNIOR £1,499

If one guitar were to de ne the ‘workhorse’ concept, it would be the Gibson Les Paul Junior. It’s made its name thanks to its ability to work in pretty much any situation from rock ’n’ roll to reggae. The secret is simple: a slab mahogany body with a mahogany neck, rosewood ’board and, of course, a single P-90 pickup in the bridge position. Gibson still o ers it today, and we can’t see that changing. Simplicity at its nest. www.gibson.com

FENDER AMERICAN PERFORMER STRATOCAST­ER £1,349

This American Performer places the hallowed US-made Fender double-cut at a working-musician price. We get a classic alder body, C-shaped maple neck with rosewood or maple (Satin Lake Placid Blue only) ’boards, and a sixsaddle vibrato-equipped bridge. The magic is in the electronic­s, with Yosemite single coils wired to a ve-way switch, and Fender’s ‘Greasebuck­et’ circuit. www.fender.com

GIBSON LES PAUL MODERN LITE FROM £1,449

If Gibson’s Junior is too sparse, consider what we’ll call the ‘adolescent’ Les Paul Modern Lite – a US-made LP with all the appointmen­ts we need and none we don’t (say goodbye to the maple cap). Gibson’s trimmed down the body to 45mm thin, and our review model was a shoulder-pleasing 3kg (6.67lb). Throw in a pair of USA pickups (490R/498T) and you’ve got yourself a classic rock machine for years to come. Look out also for the Modern Studio at £1,999. www.gibson.com

NIK HUBER KRAUTSTER III FROM £3,595

A workhorse guitar doesn’t mean you need to forego luxury, so says Nik Huber with the Krautster III. Its Dolphin morphed T-style/single-cut mahogany body – stylishly outlined with binding – is attached to a bolt-on curly maple neck, with a rosewood ngerboard. Electronic­ally, there’s a Nik Huber Krautster humbucker (by Häussel) in the bridge position and a Häussel P90 ‘1956’ single coil at the neck. There are plenty of customisat­ion options, too. https://nikhuber-guitars.com

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