The original S-type is recognised as one of the most versatile guitars out there, but it is adored particularly for its bright and crisp tones. The unmistakable S-style sound can be attributed to two key factors in its design; a bolt-on construction and vibrant-sounding single-coil pickups.
There are a few aesthetic elements that make the classic S-type instantly discernible too. With its double-cut shape, unmistakable headstock design and tremolo bridge, many players admire the S-style as much for its vintage looks as they do for its tones.
Many other guitar companies have taken inspiration from the aspects of the initial '50s-designed S-type. Producing their own instruments that are similar in terms of features and looks, we’ve compiled a list that includes some of the best S-type alternatives that we could find. Not only that, but we’ve also highlighted which particular instruments are best for certain genres. Let’s take a look!
Most electric guitars are suitable for blues, but the original S-type is an instrument that is very synonymous with the genre. With the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan and John Mayer using them to pioneer their signature sounds, they're always a winner.
For this style, it is ideal to have an S-type that carries a little bit of old-school charm, to ensure that it dishes out some classic, nostalgic tones. Pickups with a vintage-style voice will help to keep things traditional from a tonal perspective, while the conventional bolt-on construction will ensure that signature snap.
The GS100 from EastCoast is a worthy candidate, not only affordable, but able to pump out plenty of characterful tones thanks to its trio of single-coil pickups. Boasting a slightly more modern body shape to suit contemporary players, this instrument can also serve as an excellent gigging workhorse because of its lightweight Poplar body. If you want something with a bit more power, the humbucker-equipped GS100H is a viable option.
EastCoast GS100H on Andertons T.V.
G&L’s Legacy models are also worthy of note. Designed by Leo Fender after his tenure at his eponymous company, these guitars feature MFD (Magnetic Field Design) pickups that are known to deliver a more balanced sound; featuring adjustable iron pole pieces and responsive ceramic magnets. Also fitted with the acclaimed G&L Dual-Fulcrum tremolo system, this bridge’s low-friction design gives you a smoother feel and offers better tuning stability too.
G&L Guitars on Andertons T.V.
Funk and country isn’t that far removed from blues stylistically, and therefore you’d probably want an S-Style that has a more traditional design. A guitar that emits lots of top-end bite is essential, with pickups that have a somewhat compressed quality; lending themselves well to these particular styles.
The Eastcoast GS100 would be a great choice again, especially if you’re on a fairly strict budget. However, the Chapman ML1 Traditional models are also super-solid and represent excellent value-for-money. With their electronics and hardware in the right places, these instruments strike the perfect balance between old and new. While the Standard models feature beautiful Flamed Maple veneers, the Pro versions boast carved tops that provide more comfort.
Chapman ML1 Traditional Guitars on Andertons T.V.
If you’re a guitarist, rock music is simply unavoidable. We’re sure that 99% of players have picked up the instrument because of the genre, and frankly, it’s a staple of any musician’s repertoire!
If you’re after an alternative S-type intended for rock, it's paramount to find one that can take some mild-to-heavy overdrive, while sounding articulate and clear when using your amp’s clean channel. This is where we enter Super-Str*t territory, and an alternative that is fitted with thick-sounding humbuckers is a no-brainer.
The Charvel Pro-Mod Style 1 guitars match that description, fitted with powerful Seymour Duncan pickups that can dish out lots of gnarly tones. With many of them fitted with push/pull tone controls that coil-split the humbuckers, you can still attain those classic, jangly single-coil tones that are perfect for clean sounds.
Some S-styles can also come installed with high-output single-coils too, which cope well with high-gain. Such examples of these include the stylish Jackson SL4X models, based off the desirable Charvel Spectrum guitars from the ‘80s. Available in some vibrant finishes, these guitars also come fitted with Floyd Rose tremolo systems so that you can dive-bomb or flutter to your heart’s content!
Jackson & Charvel Guitars on Andertons T.V.
While the iconic -S-type is known for its chimey tones, many metal bands have relied on them to carve their cutting-edge sounds. With bands such as Iron Maiden using modified models for decades, there are lots of other options on offer from different brands too.
With most modern S-styles sporting high-output active humbuckers, thin shredder-friendly necks and jumbo frets, even the most extreme of players can feel at home on them! With companies such as Jackson, Chapman and Schecter producing a number of stunning S-types, these guitars encompass many of these contemporary features.
Chapman’s ML1 Modern instruments are immensely popular for their elegant aesthetics and high-quality features. With gorgeous Flamed Maple tops, these guitars also feature punchy Chapman-designed humbuckers and boast flat fingerboard radius' for effortless playing. If you’re after a high-performance workhorse, you can’t go wrong with these!
Chapman ML1 Modern Guitars on Andertons T.V.
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