This Electra Phoenix was my first real electric guitar. Well, the others were real in a technical sense. It wasn’t like my Synsonics Terminator was an ‘air guitar’. But that guitar was just a toy. Nobody takes a guitar with a built-in speaker seriously – not even me.
I believe I got this for my fifteenth birthday. That would have been 1991. Or maybe my sixteenth. My mom bought it and a solid state Marshall practice amp at a yard sale for $60.
This Electra Phoenix obviously looks a lot like my Westone Concord SX. Same body shape, same headstock, same wood type (maple), same tiny position markers. This was one of the last Electra models imported by Saint Louis Music before they switched to Matsumoku’s Westone brand. That makes it an early1984 model, or possibly late 1983. I could check the serial number but I don’t care.
It plays like my other Matsumoku guitars – low action, comfortable neck, but the frets are too small for shreddin’ and headbangin’. Fortunately I specialize in Johnny Ramone slash-and-burn bar chords. This isn’t meant to be a Super-Strat anyway.
The tremolo is a heavy brass unit I bought somewhere. I think Campbell’s Music? I don’t like it. I’ll put the original bridge back on if I find it. The bridge pickup was lame, so I replaced it with the bridge pickup from the Synsonics Terminator. Shockingly, it sounds pretty good. I usually play it in conjunction with the middle pickup. It has a great hollow, gutteral midrange bark that no other guitar I’ve ever owned has. Sort of like a really mellow wha-wha pedal pressed halfway down. Too bad it feedbacks easily, either pickup sucks on its own, and the neck pickup also sucks. Shrill!
This guitar is chipped all to Hell. Teenagers shouldn’t be allowed to own things. The burn on the headstock was because I put a cigarette there the first time I played a show. I’ve never smoked – not even tobacco! I just thought it would look dumb if I had a cigarette there and didn’t take a drag from it. Boy was I right. People just didn’t get ‘meta’ humor back then.
As I am fond of saying, this guitar is a one-trick pony. Aren’t all my guitars? Well, the American Standard Strat isn’t. I can’t get a bad sound out of that guitar! But this one only has that one great hollow sound that I can’t duplicate with my other guitars, so I’ve kept it. Plus, it’s a sentimental thing. Sort of like the way some guys stay married to their first wife. Divorce already!
– Cosmetics: 4/10 (lots of chips and dings, probably needs professional repair)
– Working order: 9/10 (no major gremlins)
– Rhythm Playabiliy: 10/10
– Lead Playability: 6/10 (small frets, typical Matsumoku)
– Bridge: 1/10 (shrill, feedback)
– Bridge+Middle: 9/10 (awesome hollow midrangey sound)
– Middle: 2/10 (shrill)
– Neck: 2/10 (shrill)
Nice studio guitar. A face for radio, as the saying goes.