I have a soft spot for Electra. My first “good” guitar was an Electra – it was a “Strat-style” guitar, and I bought it in the early 80’s for $179 at Buzzo’s Music Store in Geneseo, NY. And I played it for about 20 years, to the point where the frets were shot. I ended up throwing the guitar away, because back then I never anticipated I’d know how to refret a guitar. And I’ve regretted that decision ever since.
But I’m not a fool. My friend Rob had an American Strat, and I knew it was better than my inexpensive Electra. Still, it was a good guitar. Brass nut, brass saddles, nice neck, nice fretwork. The pickups were crap, much like what you get on a standard Strat today. But I loved that thing.
So when a Tampa-based company brought back the Electra line a couple of years ago, I was happy. And when I saw the new Electra Phoenix hanging on the wall in a Tampa music store, I got excited. Price? $449. Can’t complain about that. Talking to the sales guy, it seems that the low end Electras are made in South Korea, likely at World Musical Instruments, who make PRS SE guitars as well as Chapmans and a whole ton of other brands. I played it. How was it?
It was a very good guitar, except for the pickups and maybe the tuners. The pickups were as bad as the originals. But the guitar itself was very good. It struck me as being a $700 guitar with the good parts replaced by cheap parts. So upgrade the parts, and you’ve got a darn good guitar. As good as a Mexican Strat? Maybe better. As good as an American Strat? I don’t think so, no. But definitely cheaper.
I love that these guitars are back, but I’m thinking the Phoenix isn’t the guitar in the line that’ll turn heads, despite the fact that I liked it. Nope. I think the Omega is the crown jewel of the new company’s line. This is a really cool guitar. Priced at $699, it fixes many things wrong with a regular Les Paul. It gives you easier access to the higher frets (sculpted heel), a belly/tummy cut (whatever the hell you choose to call it) to prevent the thing from digging into your ribcage, and a simplified knob system that makes sense. It plays and sounds great. Are these also made by World Musical Instruments? I don’t know. Seems like it. The stuff coming out of WMI is very good.
There’s a lot of competition out there. I hope Electra does well, because these are very good guitars at a very good price. 🙂