If you are under the assumption that an expensive guitar will always be better than a lower priced one, you would be mistaken. It is possible to find some brands which provide some great sounding guitars made from quality materials at a reasonable price. A good example of this would be The Michael Kelly Guitars Enlightened 55 electric guitar from their ultralight line of guitars.
The Enlightened 55 Model is a stunning instrument from their 1950s Series, which offers the same features and vintage sounding tones that you would find on those old instruments of the ‘50s, but with modern day production and capabilities. Featuring a Dark Tiger’s Eye Quilt Maple top with an exotic genuine flame maple binding, white pickguard, and chrome hardware, it really grabs you aesthetically at first sight.
Great looks are only the beginning as this is a well-crafted instrument with design and electronic features and materials that rival much higher price point guitars — like the ones major acts take to the stage. The contoured body with beveling at the top front (inward to the body) and top back (concave away from the body) and its light weight make this guitar a dream to hold and play … for a long period of time.
The balance and light weight of the guitar is due to the red cedar wood from the mahogany family that was used for the body of this guitar. Michael Kelly Guitars chose this type of wood because “it provides classic and full tonal performance but at a much lighter weight than typical tone woods.” Another innovative way that they reduced the weight of their ultralight guitars is utilizing a thinner body and carving four boreholes (what they refer to as ports) into the body (towards the bottom of the guitar) to reduce its weight to around six pounds! The 1955 model also has a 10.5″ – 16″ compound radius rosewood fretboard.
Electronically, this model features the Michael Kelly Great 8 electronics mod, which gives you 8 different unique tonal voices by adding two push-pull switches to the volume and tone that when pulled up, disengages one coil of the humbucker giving you a cleaner single coil tone. Like their 1954 model, it has a tappable Rockfield SWC humbucker at the bridge, and a tappable overwound MK Mini-Humbucker at the neck which adds some dimension, with some nice sounding cleans and vintage crunch. Instead of using chrome guitar parts, aluminum was used as another way to reduce the weight of the guitar without compromising sound. There are a variety of different tones you can get from this guitar, and it works well with almost any style of playing from rock to blues and country.
I have been comparing the overall sound and playability to a Fender Deluxe Telecaster along with the comfort and ease of playing. On the sound, it is only when there is a direct side by side comparison that I can tell any difference – and even then, it is slight. When you consider the difference in the price, the 1955 more than holds its own. Same with the neck and action (which can be adjusted) which is very good on the 1955. The sleek Rosewood fretboard on its maple neck make it a breeze to move up and down the neck, and the 22 fret medium jumbos create an easy landing place for fretting and fingering.
It is very comfortable to play chords and great for leads. This is a really good guitar for the price when you compare to other guitars of the same price range. Aesthetically pleasing, very easy and enjoyable to play, and it holds the tuning really well. It is a nice guitar if you are looking for something to play a variety of different styles and tones with, and for someone with back issues or for younger players with smaller body frames, the lightness is definitely a huge plus. I would recommend testing one out for yourself!
Priced from $599.99.
Be sure and check out the video below from
Michael Kelly Guitars discussing
the background of the ultralight collection.
Top: Quilt Maple
Body: Red Cedar
Binding: Genuine Flame Maple
Construction: Bolt On
Fretboard Radius: Compound 10.5″ to 16″
Number of Frets: 22 Medium Jumbo
Scale Length: 25.5 in / 647.7 mm
Truss Rod Type: Dual Action
Neck Profile: Modern C
Nut Material: Bone
Nut Width: 43mm
Strings: D’Addario EXL110 (.010-.046)
Boutique Mod: Great 8 Mod – Master Volume (push/pull coil tap) – Master tone (push/pull coil tap) – 3 way blade switch
Electronics: Specially Voiced Pickups for Enlightened Model
Neck Pickup: Rockfield® Mini Humbucker-L
Bridge Pickup: Rockfield® SWC Humbucker-L
Hardware Finish: Chrome
Tuning Keys: MK Die Cast
Bridge Type: Ultralight Aluminum T-Style
Enlightened Ultralight Treatment – including special wood, thinner design, etc.
Enlightened Port Weight Relief
Special Strap-Button Placement, for better balance
Aluminum Bridge and Control Plate for added weight relief