guitar review

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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This cheaper version of John Mayer’s signature S-style update plays and sounds like a million bucks.

A truly exceptional S-style instrument in the vintage tradition, with superb tones and playability, an improved cutaway, and a bridge-pickup-dedicated tone pot.

None.

$849

PRS SE Silver Sky
prsguitars.com

5
5
5
4

Budget renditions of established-model guitars used to make me skeptical. There was often a hitch: rough frets, pickups that were let-downs, funky pots, etc. But over the past decade-plus, the quality of guitars built in Asia by the major brands has continued to improve. PRS’s lower-priced version of their John Mayer signature model, the SE Silver Sky, is a premier example.

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Shredding on a hardtail? This Schecter will show you the light.

Gorgeous, unusual tonewoods. Versatile pickups and switching. Fast, comfortable playability.

A case or gig bag would be nice at this price.

$1,249

Schecter Sun Valley Super Shredder Exotic Hardtail Black Limba
schecterguitars.com

5
4.5
4.5
4

David Schecter started Schecter Guitar Research in 1976. In the beginning, the company did repairs and sold parts in their Van Nuys, California, shop (much like their contemporaries, Charvel). But Schecter quickly developed a solid reputation among SoCal players and started selling complete guitars in 1979.

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