Strat Alternatives - EB vs G&L

GoBeavs68

Member
Messages
288
Im in the market for a triple single coil blues rocker. I really dig the Ernie Ball Silhouettes and Cutlass' as well as the G&L S-500s. I'm having trouble finding an Ernie Ball for sub 1 thousand bucks, but loads of Legacys.

Would anyone like to put their 2 cents in on any of the models mentioned?
 

ant_riv

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,504
I don't know the EBs but either of the G&Ls would be fantastic.

The Legacy will be more strat-like in sound.
The S-500 will have a fuller, rounder sound and a mini-switch for turning on the bridge/neck.

They are both excellent, very well made guitars.
 

John C

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,246
You used to be able to get Silhouettes, Silhouette Specials and Albert Lees for $1,000 or a bit less used. The Cutlass is too new to really be on the used market yet.

I've owned 3 Silhouette Specials and 3 Albert Lees over the years - yes, with the Silhouette Specials I did buy the same guitar 3 times (different colors at least). All 3 were SSS with the tremolo. I bought them because I really like the EBMM neck at that time, and every time I was willing to let it go because it really didn't sound like a Stratocaster. They have kind of a smaller/more focused sound than you would get on a good Strat - the body is smaller and therefore the pickups are a bit closer together, it has kind of a wiry, 80s new wave sound. At best they are going to be reminiscent of an early Fender American Standard (one from say 1987-1996 - pre "Delta Tone"). I really think that the Silhouette Special was designed to be an HSS guitar; the SSS versions were kind of an afterthought.

Now with the Albert Lees I've owned all 3 of the pickup styles EBMM has offered - one was 3 MM-90s, one was 2 humbuckers, and the last one I owned was the SSS version. Again, the SSS model is close to Strat territory but not quite there. It doesn't come off as wiry as the Silhouette Special, and with the ash body and baseplate on the bridge pickup it has a little twang in its DNA. But at the end of the day I gladly sold it off and replaced it with an American Standard Strat (a 2013 model so it had the CS Fat 50s pickups) because it really sounded like a Strat.

About a month ago I tried out the first Cutlass to hit my area at the local GC. Now the Cutlass really does nail the classic Strat sounds with EBMM playability. The neck is a bit fatter than the Silhouette Special neck, and not as "clubby" as the Albert Lee neck (the Cutlass is actually a V-to-C neck). One thing to point out - the Cutlass has a new version of the "Silent Circuit", which is an active noise cancellation system. On the Cutlass it's paired with a unity buffered output - so if the battery dies, the guitar is dead. The older version of the Silent Circuit, as used on the Silhouette Special and the Albert Lee, is only noise reduction - so if the battery dies you just lose the noise reduction and the guitar still functions.

I can't help you out on the G&Ls; I've owned 2 G&Ls but both were ASAT models. One of them was a guitar I should have kept and wish I had back; the other one I only kept for 6 months before trading it back to the dealer for something else (I got that one from the old Buffalo Brothers store - they offered a full purchase price trade-in once per year as long as you were getting a guitar with a higher price than the one you were trading in).
 

GoBeavs68

Member
Messages
288
You used to be able to get Silhouettes, Silhouette Specials and Albert Lees for $1,000 or a bit less used. The Cutlass is too new to really be on the used market yet.

I've owned 3 Silhouette Specials and 3 Albert Lees over the years - yes, with the Silhouette Specials I did buy the same guitar 3 times (different colors at least). All 3 were SSS with the tremolo. I bought them because I really like the EBMM neck at that time, and every time I was willing to let it go because it really didn't sound like a Stratocaster. They have kind of a smaller/more focused sound than you would get on a good Strat - the body is smaller and therefore the pickups are a bit closer together, it has kind of a wiry, 80s new wave sound. At best they are going to be reminiscent of an early Fender American Standard (one from say 1987-1996 - pre "Delta Tone"). I really think that the Silhouette Special was designed to be an HSS guitar; the SSS versions were kind of an afterthought.

Now with the Albert Lees I've owned all 3 of the pickup styles EBMM has offered - one was 3 MM-90s, one was 2 humbuckers, and the last one I owned was the SSS version. Again, the SSS model is close to Strat territory but not quite there. It doesn't come off as wiry as the Silhouette Special, and with the ash body and baseplate on the bridge pickup it has a little twang in its DNA. But at the end of the day I gladly sold it off and replaced it with an American Standard Strat (a 2013 model so it had the CS Fat 50s pickups) because it really sounded like a Strat.

About a month ago I tried out the first Cutlass to hit my area at the local GC. Now the Cutlass really does nail the classic Strat sounds with EBMM playability. The neck is a bit fatter than the Silhouette Special neck, and not as "clubby" as the Albert Lee neck (the Cutlass is actually a V-to-C neck). One thing to point out - the Cutlass has a new version of the "Silent Circuit", which is an active noise cancellation system. On the Cutlass it's paired with a unity buffered output - so if the battery dies, the guitar is dead. The older version of the Silent Circuit, as used on the Silhouette Special and the Albert Lee, is only noise reduction - so if the battery dies you just lose the noise reduction and the guitar still functions.

I can't help you out on the G&Ls; I've owned 2 G&Ls but both were ASAT models. One of them was a guitar I should have kept and wish I had back; the other one I only kept for 6 months before trading it back to the dealer for something else (I got that one from the old Buffalo Brothers store - they offered a full purchase price trade-in once per year as long as you were getting a guitar with a higher price than the one you were trading in).
Thank you so much! This really helps me!
 

slider

Member
Messages
1,495
The EBs tend to have small necks. The G&Ls can vary, mine has a decently large neck. Both are great, bang for the buck goes to G&L.
 

rufedges

Member
Messages
1,268
To pretty much agree with John C, I've owned a Silo Special (HSS), and they somewhat resemble a strat, but, if you are looking for a legit / vintage strat tone, the Silo is not it. Super skinny neck too. More of a modern super-strat type guitar, maybe if you're shooting for P&W tones or some modern type stuff, or even jazz, it'll fit the bill. Try before you buy if you can, but look elsewhere if you want a legit strat. I will say one thing about the Silo/EBMM guitars, they are smaller overall, and look normal on my frame (5'6), whereas my current Nash strat looks a little big on me, but I wouldn't trade for anything.

I love my Nash, I've upgaded the pickups and bridge/saddles/trem bar, and getting SS Frets installed as we speak, but I sold the Silo Special immediately once I got it. I'm probably going to try a Danocaster next and see if it tops the Nash, everybody raves about them, hardly ever for sale on Ebay, and they look on point. The original relic job on the Nash was meh, but the tone is awesome, and it sustains like crazy, even the luthier mentioned the sustain unplugged. Big boat neck too, love it.
 

John C

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,246
Thank you so much! This really helps me!
You're welcome.

I completely forgot to mention a couple of other things about the Cutlass - it does not have the oil-and-wax finish on the neck; it has a satin poly finish that is pretty nice feeling. Not as nice as the oil-and-wax, but maybe a little nicer than Fender's satin finish on American Standards/American Elites/etc. The Cutlass also has stainless steel frets.

I was really taken with the Cutlass I played; it really grabbed me when I tried it. I plan on getting one when I can swing another guitar and see if I can hang with the neck. In all honesty that is why I quit playing EBMMs - the slightly wider neck as found on American Standards or American Deluxes was working better for me (not sure if the new C-to-D neck on the America Elites will work either - I would also have to get one and live with it for a few months to really see if it would work).

Nash is on my list to try out - most of them that have show up used locally do have that big boat neck that is too large for me. I would like to try one out with their medium C neck.
 

moosewayne

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,959
I never played a G&L that begged me to take it home.
Nice guitars, to be sure!

EB Silhouettes on the other hand cause me to lose sleep. They just have that 'something' that makes me want to buy every one I play.
 

Larry Mal

Member
Messages
1,667
I have an early 90's Legacy, and I just love it. What an incredible playing guitar. Effortless.

So, mine has a 12" radius and some pretty wide and flat frets on there. Also, it has a thin and flat neck. It's not like a Fender neck. I thought that I'd not like it, since I love the vintage Fender situation more than anything, but after about five minutes I knew it was a keeper.

If you can get a line on a good, used G&L, I don't think you'll be disappointed, especially since you don't seem to be locked into the actual Fender thing and the specs that they use.

Not too sure about Ernie Ball/Music Man guitars, but I bet they are great quality, based on my Stingray, anyway.
 

GoBeavs68

Member
Messages
288
No I'm not locked into the strat vibe. I prefer modern takes on classics. I have a PRS sc245, for example, that I love because of the wraparound bridge and shallower peg head angle as compared to a LP. It's also a tad lighter. It's different, but the same.

I'm looking to gain a single coil axe for versatility as I just do not like cool tapping or split coil tones. I'd be using this primarily for solos on recording projects and jamming with a slow blues band. Think delay and phase riddled Gilmore sounds.

Fenders are great, I just prefer "improved" takes on classics of that makes any sense. And I'm a sucker for USA build quality.
 

ldizzle

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,349
Both are great. I'm not a strat guy but when I get a strat-necessary gig I go out and buy a legacy. I've had... 8? 9?
I've gotten USA versions for as low as $450.
I've had silos and the necks aren't to my digs but awesome builds and f&f.
 

Russ73

Member
Messages
1,173
The Cutlass neck is nice and big compared to my 3 silo specials, I played it against a custom shop strat and they had similar necks as both were big and round with the 1 5/8 nut width, both incredible guitars but the cutlass had steroids compared to the strat and at 1499, cheaper with the discounts through MF its quite a steal with locking tuners, compensated nut and a trem that will stay in tune the entire set, Im waiting for the HSS version to come out but I will have one, Its beautiful in person as well and the necks are smooth as butter, I like MM so Im biased but its clearly a great guitar!
 

GoBeavs68

Member
Messages
288
Think I'm goning to be patient and wait for a nice used cutlass for under a grand. Played one at guitar center and it gave me the "can't stop fiddling in this scale" syndrome. Love the neck and the steel frets, locking tuners, and noiseless circuitry have done me in. Thanks for the input guys.
 

Rayzaa

Member
Messages
1,541
I like EB guitars but i wont spend over $1000 so they make it easy for me. GC here where im at has had a Albert Lee SSS model on clearance for over 7 months and it is still the same clearance price of $1499.
 




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