Some of Trev Wilkinson’s designs via the Fret-King are very clever updates of popular designs, with tonal and ergonomic improvements that bring the general vintage aesthetic into the modern era. Others, like the brilliant Esprit 5, take a more anarchistic approach to the idea of vintage-vibed guitars, and in the process create a unique axe that stands on its own merits rather than being referred back to the instruments that came before it. The Vintage Reissued series, also designed by Wikinson, doesn’t try to be either of those things. Instead these guitars aim to basically give you a guitar which feels, sounds and looks like the vintage models we all know and love, but with Trev’s range of pickups, tuners and hardware and at a much more affordable price point than, say, a $250,000 ’59 Les Paul. There are a few little differences – another kind of wood here, an extra fret there – but for the most part these are guitars that tell you a lot about what to expect just through the sheer weight of their inspiration. Continue reading
Legendary guitar designer Trev Wilkinson’s Fret King brand is designed to offer ‘working vintage guitars’ built without compromise and without directly copying any one particular classic instrument. Even a cursory glance at the website of the Fret King line reveals a series of instruments that aren’t shy about owning up to their inspirations but which could never, ever be called simply copy guitars. It almost feels like any familiarity that you might perceive is there merely as a vague frame of reference rather than a ‘let’s just tweak this a bit and put it out’ design decision.
The Esprit 5 is slightly reminiscent of Gibson Firebird, sure, but it’s more of a “hey, that slightly reminds me of something.. what is it? Hmm…” kind of familiarity rather than an “Oh dude, I totally know what that is” kind of thing. And to be honest, I’ve been hoping to get my hands on one ever since I first saw the shape in Guitarist magazine a couple of years ago.
The body is made from three-piece mahogany with a raised 4″ centre section and two slightly smaller flanks, one of which holds the volume and tone controls, placed in line with the raised section in a nice little bit of visual design.