Wednesday, January 23, 2008, 01:10 PM - Models

Bolt neck double cutaway with laminated ash, maple and walnut strip body, maple neck, chrome hardware, brass nut, brass hardtail bridge and dual humbuckers with toggle switch for coil tap, brass knobs.

When the Electra Phoenix first appeared in late 1980, there were the standard 2- and 3-pickup models with pickguards, and there were also two deluxe models with bodies of dark brown ash with laminated strips of maple and walnut at the center. No doubt one or two of these would be ordered as premium display attractors but the lower priced models were what sold the most.

The laminated body follows the identical stripe pattern with many other Matsumoku-made guitars of the time, including Aria Pro, Westone, Washburn and Skylark models.

Ironically, the laminated body is sometimes mistaken for an imitation of a neck-through guitar, which it is not. Excellent bolt-neck that it is, it need not pretend. Matsumoku had raised the art of making composite chunks of hardwood out of smaller to a fine degree, and these laminated bodies are made with all the care and attention of a flagship model.

The X149 is identical to the X150 in every respect except that it does not have powered EQ. The tone knob is a conventional tone knob, and it has only one toggle switch, for coil tap. It can also be recognized by the lack of a brass battery cover at the base of the back, which powers the EQ in the X150.

The X149 appears to be the rarer of the two deluxe models, probably because if youíre ordering a deluxe model, why omit the fancy electronics? Yet at the time onboard powered EQ was exotic- (at the time Fender had not even upgraded strat 3-way to 5-way switches yet- that was strictly custom) So itís not hard to imagine a few conservative music store owners who had tried out powered EQ, or hadnít, and found it useless. So offering a version without the powered EQ seems reasonable, if not popular.

Today the X149 is one of the finest of the Electra Phoenix family, its familiar controls and excellent tone matched by the fact that flagship models, especially in the early 80ís, seemed to have been given extra hands-on attention, their lines and setup are generally especially good among the Phoenixes.

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