guitar review

New PRS S2 Vela & Custom 24-08 Demos with USA-Made Pickups & Electronics
New PRS S2 Vela & Custom 24-08 Demos with USA-Made Pickups & Electronics | First Look

USA-made pickups and electronics make the new S2 Custom 24-08 and S2 Vela elegant, outstanding, all-American instruments.

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Soundgarden’s legendary guitar slinger is honored with a versatile signature model that’s fit for paisley sounds as well as molten metal.

Happily spans Black Sabbath and Beatles tones. Cool phase switch. Fast playability.

Pickups could use just a bit more air and dimension.

$899

Guild Polara Kim Thayil
guildguitars.com

4
4.5
4.5
4

Though I’ve never owned one, I’ve always thought the Guild S-100 Polara was super cool. Its riff on the Gibson SG profile—a little offset at the waist with asymmetric horns—always seemed a bit cheeky and appealed to my ’60s Fender sensibilities. Plus, it had that slick, slanted Guild tailpiece (and sometimes an even cooler Guild/Hagstrom vibrato) and those beautiful Guild HB-1 pickups. These elements appealed greatly to a contrarian kid like me.

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A USA-built “super strat” that unites great tonal range and lightning-fast playability in an instrument deeply rooted in Jackson tradition.

Killer sounding guitar that sounds excellent all across the span of the fretboard, from the low open E string up to the 24th fret of the high E string.

Satin finish picks up a lot of fingerprints.

$1,999

Jackson American Series Virtuoso
jacksonguitars.com

4.5
4.5
4
4.5

In the mid ’80s, when shred took over the guitar world, Jackson was the brand of choice for icons like Randy Rhoads and Marty Friedman. Back then, the company’s guitars were only available from Grover Jackson’s custom shop and were out of reach for a lot of musicians. Since the company’s 2002 acquisition by Fender, the Jackson brand has become accessible to many more players. But as nice as it is to be able to afford a Jackson built in Mexico or Asia, it’s a thrill to see a new, upscale, California-built Jackson like the new American Series Virtuoso. At $1,999 with a foam core hybrid hardshell case-gigbag, the American Series Virtuoso isn’t cheap. But it’s not out of reach for working guitarists, who will value the Virtuoso’s combination of range, straight-ahead functionality, fast playability, and Jackson’s cool combination of flair and economy.

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