Michael Kelly 1965 Double Cut Electric Guitar
By Chris Loeffler |
Michael Kelly 1965 Double Cut Electric Guitar
By Chris Loeffler, Senior Editor
Revisiting a Legendary Design
The 1960’s saw the perfection of the electric guitar, with codified body and pickup designs of the 1950’s branching out to address the expanding sonic possibilities of guitar-dedicated amplifiers and signal processors. The iconic single-cut, two pickup styling that spawned the early electric country and rock scene begat a more versatile three-pickup design and added a tremolo bar connected to the bridge to emulate the slide guitar that defined the then-trendy Hawaiian music craze. Players embraced the additional pickup options for the unique tones they offered and discovered newfound emotional expression in more subtle uses of vibrato through the tremolo system.
Michael Kelly celebrates the classic double-cut design with the 1960’s series guitars much as it did the original single-cut design in its 1950’s series. Each member of the 1960’s family remains faithful to the look and feel of the vintage design but takes the styling and features in very different directions. Elaborate figured woods, various pickup styles and configurations, and modern component refinements make the 1960’s line versatile enough to satisfy many different players’ preferences.
What You Need to Know
The Michael Kelly 1965 is built on a swamp ash body with a quilted maple top framed by flamed maple binding . The figuring of the wood is eye-catching and reflects deep dimension as the light plays off the finish. The body features slightly less countering and rounding that its vintage inspiration, but the arm and belly cuts are comfortable and feel close enough to the original that the difference is only apparent on close inspection. The maple neck is capped with a Birdseye maple headstock and features a compound radius rosewood fretboard for faster, more comfortable playing. A bone nut and all chrome hardware (including Grover locking tuners) round out the classic design.
The pickups are all inspired by Todd Rockfield designs, with a Fat Stacked single coil in the Neck position, a SSC single coil in the middle position, and a SWC Humbucker in the bridge position. The Fat Single Stack is warm and round and works well for vocal leads and full chording, with a bit more punch and low end than the typical classic strat, for example, has. The SSC walks the right balance between the typical woofiness of the neck and sharpness of the bridge pickups and compliments its neighbors well. The SWC has a ringing, piano like attack that is full of balanced presence when played clean (and maybe even a little rolled back) but gets rowdy and a little sag when run full-tilt into an overdriven amp. The SWC can be split to single coil for a less powerful but more nuanced tone.
The 1965 is one of two 1960’s guitars that feature the Epic 11 Boutique mod, a Michael Kelly design that expands the typical five pickup configuration to 14 total pickup selections. Highlights of this functionality are the ability to have the neck and bridge pickups active at the same time without the middle pickup or even have all three pickups active at once. Push-pull functionality on the Volume knob allows players to split the humbucker for a more vintage single-coil tone.
The tremolo is a standard 2-point floating tremolo over an open back plate to give the guitar a finished look while still providing the expanded sound of an open cavity.
Less a limitation than a preference, the 1965 is an eye catching guitar whose ornate stylings may turn off players who only like their guitars in black or candy apple red.
Michael Kelly brings a lot to the table with the 1965; marrying classic design with high-end appointments that are typically found on guitars priced at twice the price. The flexible pickup configurations sound classic and contemporary at the same time and the construction is solid and aesthetically pleasing. The Michael Kelly 1965 offers a visually striking, great playing package worth well more than the $599.00 street price.
The 1960’s Series at a Glance
1960 Evolution Custom- Flamed maple top, gold hardware, Fishman Fluence Active Electronics
1963- Flamed maple top, chrome hardware, MK Fat single coil, MK Classic single coil, MK Vintage Plus humbucker, MK Twin Edge tremolo
1964- Quilted maple top, flat black hardware, Fat Stacked single coil, Fat single coil, Fat Ass humbucker, Floyd Rose Special Tremolo
1965- Quilted maple top, chrome hardware, Rockfield Fat Stacked single coil, Rockfield SSC single coil, Rockfield SWC humbucker, Epic 11 Mod, MK Twin Edge Tremolo
1967- Quilted maple top, gold hardware, Rockfield Fat Stacked single coil, Rockfield SSC single coil, Seymour Duncan Custom TB-5, Epic 11 Mod, MK Twin Edge Tremolo
Available directly through Michael Kelly at www.MichaelKellyGuitars.com
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.