The guitar is constantly evolving, and small boutique brands such as Relish guitars are gaining ground. This Relish guitars review and guide will detail all you need to know about them before deciding whether they are the right brand for you.
My bottom line up-front: Relish guitars keep their promise of delivering a modern, highly versatile, and easy to play guitar. The quality of the build and the patented pickup switching system give it an edge compared to even big brands for live gigs using only one guitar. However, the premium quality and unique design come at a very high price and somewhat a loss of the vintage tones and, for some players, the instrument’s character.
Guitar players are known to be resistant to change. Today, quality, innovative instruments such as Relish guitar are more embraced than before due to the mastery of blending modern elements with vintage ones. Having tried many instruments from every major brand in studio situations, analyzing what a Relish could do was truly a unique experience.
Relish Guitars Pros and Cons
Relish Guitars Pros
- Modern, slick design with a variety of finishes
- Comfortable and relatively lightweight
- Reliable, Quality build and excellent hardware
- The brand has a Sustainable vision with the goal of limiting environmental footprint.
- The pickup switching technology and piezo make the guitars highly versatile and handy for working musicians.
- The tone is well balanced without too much insisting on any frequency
Relish Guitars Cons
- The guitars are costly considering that other brands use better parts and are cheaper.
- The pickups used are costly as they have to be purchased already modded or sent to a specialized shop to fit the guitar.
- Compared to their classic tone when fitted into Strats or Gibsons, the tone is not 100% what you would expect from the pickups.
About Relish Guitars
Relish guitars are a new guitar builder founded in 2013 in Switzerland with specific goals and a vision for the future of guitars. In recent years, the brand has built a lot of buzz with the business model of using sustainable parts, new technologies, and a limited number of handmade instruments.
What sets relish guitars apart from many small brands is that they aim to deliver an instrument that can fit every guitar player as the main instrument, not only specific genre-oriented custom guitar like most small builders.
Customizing the guitar’s tone by quickly switching pickups is a patented technology that makes a Relish guitar’s tonal palette bigger than any other electric guitar today. The playability and looks of the instrument borrow the best elements of major brands such as Gibson, Fender, and PRS.
The quality is premium, and prices are high. However, the new Trinity model is an excellent attempt to keep costs in check and make the guitar available for working musicians. You can choose in between many models, most of which offer a ton of features and a price well over 3000$.
Relish Guitars Playability
Let’s dive in first on how Relish guitars feel when you first play them. Even though the cool extra features
Most of the guitars use a modern C-shaped neck common in new Stratocasters. The scale length is also similar to the Strat, making the playing experience similar to an expensive Fender. These two characteristics make the guitar a great middle-ground for players of all styles as the neck fills the hand nicely and feels slick and smooth for every genre.
The headstock is Gibson style, with three tuners on each side. The bridge, tuners, and nut are as good as possible to offer stable tunning and an easy system to change strings. The action is low and easy to change with the saddles on the bridge.
The guitars are surprisingly lightweight and stay well against the body while seated or held with a strap. The weight might not seem important at first; however, if you’re a touring musician, you will feel the weight of a heavy guitar after too many shows in a row.
The Woven Bamboo Fingerboad feels and looks like any quality Rosewood one. Most models have a well-thought cutaway on the body that allows easy access to 24 frets. You can go from open bright chords to shredding with the instrument’s versatility.
Overall you won’t tell the difference between this and an expensive guitar from any major builder. You can consider it a blend of a Strat neck and PRS merged with Gibson body that feels natural to play.
Relish Guitars Tone
The main reason you would want to buy a Relish guitar is the tonal versatility of the pickup switching system. If your goal is to own a single guitar that can pull off a setlist that spans pop, blues, rock, and some metal, then a Relish could be your fit.
Apart from that, I do not see why as a working musician, I would pick up a Relish and not a less expensive PRS that still gets me through any live show. As the owner of many expensive guitars, the goal of a Relish is to eliminate the need to have multiple instruments.
On any Relish guitar, you can pair up to 18 types of different pickups bought directly from the website on any Relish guitar. The pickups cover all familiar tones, from sparkling single coils to snarky P90s and deep warm humbuckers.
The pickups, height, and position dictate most of the guitar’s tone. Playing around with different ones just by opening the back cover and pushing the existing one is as good it gets to cover sonic ground.
A point to praise Relish is the pickups choices. Apart from offering a wide variety of stock ones and piezo in the bridge, you can choose authentic vintage ones that other guitar brands use. For example, you can select Vintage PAF or a Seymor Duncan that you are familiar with.
Don’t forget that the tone comes at a cost. You can mod other pickups to fit the guitar. However, there are only a few places where you can do that, such as the factory or sweetwater.
On the downside, however, the instrument can feel somehow plain. Relish made sure the guitars don’t have any dominating frequencies so that pickups go on a body that is as neutral as possible. As good as the intention is, I feel that the pickups don’t reach the woody tone of a Strat on the neck single-coil pickup nor the hot dense Les Paul humbuckers tone.
For comparison, it’s almost like the difference between the tone of a humbucker with a push-pull single-coil switch and a genuine single coil.
The guitar is extremely versatile and can imitate classic guitar tones with success. However, there are some colors that only the original guitars can give to the tone. These guitars are electronically packed and marketed as a “jack of all trades.” However, a Relish still retains some character. The lack of ‘guitar character’ is mostly an opinion as guitarists search for familiar tones in everyday music.
Why Would You Buy a Relish Guitar?
Perhaps the most critical part of the review is helping figure out why you would need such an instrument, however well built it is. The pickup switching system is the main reason to buy a Relish, and probably the only one for most players.
Beyond that, you could purchase a wider range of instruments that might fit your hands better. If you still want to go for a Relish, a good alternative is their custom shop, where perhaps another type of neck, finish, and design style could be arranged.
I recommend a Relish guitar for the working musician who has stored many instruments and wants to exchange some for a one-size-fits-all solution. On live shows, this guitar can be of great convenience. You could work with relish on recording sessions. However, engineers and producers will most certainly ask for a guitar they are familiar with.
Best Relish Guitars Models
I have picked up two Relish Guitars models that are perhaps the best representation of the brand.
If I were to pick a convenient Relish guitar with the main pickup switching feature, this would be my choice.
The Trinity sacrifices some electronics and offers what a standard Gibson would. The artistic finishes, and the exclusivity of the other models are also left out. The final price is much lower than the other Relish models. It’s still easy to play and looks and feels like a Relish. To make it more familiar, it’s what an affordable Mexican Strat is to its vintage US counterpart.
- Solid Basswood Body
- Maple C-Shape neck with 24 easy access frets
- Comes with stock Relish Bucker XX
- 3-way switch
- One volume and tone control
The Jane series best encompasses the premium look and feel of this exclusive Instrument. This semi-hollow guitar is built on an aluminum core and is as versatile as a Relish, and has uniques feature such as
- Ghost Piezo pickup system
- Two outputs
- It comes with a hard case
- Relish Bucker XV pickups
- Super sturdy Canadian steam-bent Maple neck with easy to access 24 frets
- Walnut back and top
- 3 position switch, dedicated piezo volume control with Push/Pull mid boost and tone and volume control for the pickups
This guitar is finished as a piece of art, and as such, it’s unique to few models looking the same or just one. The price, however, is very high and perhaps not affordable by most musicians.
Question: Where are Relish Guitars made?
Answer: The mainline of relish guitar is hand-made in Switzerland by a small team of luthiers. The new affordable Trinity series, however, is factory-built in Indonesia.
Question: What is a piezo pickup?
Answer: A piezo pickup is installed under the guitar’s bridge to pick up vibration before the pickups. The tone of a piezo pickup is generally bright and rich similar to that of an acoustic guitar. They are low output pickups and are usually used to achieve crips clear tones.
Final Thoughts on Relish Guitars
Relish guitars are truly unique premium instruments that have a unique approach to offering maximum playability and versatility for musicians.
They play great, feel smooth, and are reliable enough for every working musician that wants to carry only guitar for multiple genres. The unique pickup switching system is easy to use and delivers almost all the tones you would expect from the different pickup combinations you can choose.
Everything, however, comes at a very high price tag with which you could purchase most vintage instruments from major brands and still space enough money for another quality guitar or good amp.
If you are on a budget, my final suggestion is to go first for the affordable Trinity model and four pickups to try for yourself if this new technology works for you.
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