I always thought the old Silvertone guitars that came in a case with a built-in amp were pretty cool. After all, the less gear I have to lug, the better. But what if you didn’t even need the case to have an amplified guitar? That’s where ElectroPhonic comes in.
The Model One you see here has a built-in preamp, power amplifier, speakers and effects. It also comes with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that will provide more than 10 hours of playing time under most conditions.
When I first saw the Model One, I was knocked out by the custom purple color, which looked great on the sexy body shape. The vents for the two onboard speakers look super cool as well.
The three knobs on the top govern master volume, overdrive gain and pickup volume. The controls on the upper side of the body include a selector for preamp voicing (Lux, U.K. and Mod), a three-way Clean/OD-1/OD-2 switch, hi and lo controls, and all that you need for the delay and chorus effects. Everything is easily accessible and tweakable.
I charged the batteries (which takes about eight hours the first time and four hours thereafter), installed them easily and switched on the guitar to hear a loud, full sound come from its speakers.
Turning the amp gain up produced musical overdrive, and nudging the amp volume up a touch created singing, infinite sustain. After all, when its amp is on, the Model One creates more sympathetic vibrations than ordinary guitars. And because this guitar came with the optional Easy Rider V-Twin Tremolo, I could really do a lot with the feedback.
The hi- and low-EQ knobs are extremely powerful, and those two controls alone deliver an amazing range of sounds, from warm jazzy neck-pickup tones to bridge-humbucker sizzle. When you combine that with the amp gain, amp volume and guitar volume knobs, it’s astounding how many tones are at your fingertips.
On that subject, it’s awesome to be able to mess with amp controls on the fly. (ElectroPhonic says the Model One is loud enough to keep up with a drummer, but that wouldn’t be the case with any drummer I’ve ever played with.)
Also at your fingertips are the delay and chorus effects, and all of their parameters. Both effects sound nice and warm. The delay is particularly expansive, with the repeats coming out of the speaker in the upper bout, and I dialed in some very produced-sounding tones that I could tweak in real time.
Better still, all of these sounds are passed through the 1/4-inch output jack, and you can send them to an amp or run them direct. What you don’t get, unfortunately, is the onboard amp, which is defeated when you plug into the output jack.
I was a little disappointed by this, because I really wanted to experience all the sustain and feedback while playing through my rig. Still, the Model One sounds quite good through an amp as well as direct, and the musical interaction of the various controls is all there.
The feel and setup on the Model One wasn’t totally ready for prime time, with jagged fret ends, high action and a funky three-way pickup selector that kept the neck pickup on when I tried to select the bridge pickup only. Fortunately, these are all fixable problems.
The Easy Rider whammy system operates smoothly, kind of like a Bigsby with more range, and with a little finessing I was able to keep it reasonably well in tune, even with lots of use. The Model One would make a great travel guitar, because it really has everything you need.
I also see it as an amazing busking tool, and you could do a coffeehouse gig and sing without a mic if you wanted. For that matter, I would gladly use it in the studio and mic the internal speakers to take advantage of the amazing sustain. All in all, it’s a fun, useful and versatile guitar.
PRICE $940 direct; $1,115 as tested with Easy Rider trem and maple fretboard
NUT WIDTH 1.68"
NECK Rock maple
FRETBOARD Maple, 24.75" scale, 12" radius. Optional ebony, katalox and granadillo
FRETS 22 medium
TUNERS Wilkinson WJ28N open-gear
BODY Carolina Poplar
BRIDGE Wilkinson locking roller (stock). Optional Easy Rider V-Twin Tremolo ($125)
PICKUPS Custom-wound humbucker (bridge) and custom-wound single-coil dual-rail (neck)
CONTROLS Master volume, overdrive gain, pickup volume,
ADDITIONAL CONTROLS Lux/UK/Mod switch, Clean/OD-1/OD-2 switch, mid/punch/warm switch, hi and low EQ knobs, delay time, mix and feedback; chorus depth, rate and level
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario, .010–.046
WEIGHT 8.8 lbs
KUDOS Unique features. Huge range of tones. Unreal sustain when using internal amp
CONCERNS Some setup issues