Artist Guitars AT91V2 "Telecaster"

BillDLBillDL Frets: 7483
edited December 2023 in Guitar Reviews
Artist AT91V2 Telecaster Style Guitar With "Twangler" Pickups

(stock image - mine looks just like this)

RRP: £189. Bought as B-Stock for £120 due to a scrape on the back of the body that nobody sees anyway. A customer has received this guitar and either seen an existing scrape (hmmmm), or done it themselves, and sent it straight back without playing it.  All protective plastics in place and re-packaged as if straight from the manufacturer.  Since receiving it several hours ago I have already drop-filled the powdery scrape in the lacquer with activated superglue and buffed it back to almost invisibility.

  • Scale Length: 648 mm / 25.5".
  • Body: 3-piece AA American Ash; natural high gloss "poly" lacquer; belly cut; carved arm contour; swimming pool routing.
  • Neck: 22 fret maple 12" radius fretboard; satin finish; bone nut: 43mm; chunky C-shape profile.
  • Hardware: Rear locking no-name tuners; modern string-through 6-saddle bridge with block saddles.
  • Pickups: Artist Twangler Pickups (AlNiCo V Rod 16k (Bridge), 12K (Neck); standard 3-way switch.
  • Weight: About 3.6kg (8lbs).
I have an Artist TC59 which is really just the slab-bodied dual humbucker (coil spit) guitar that preceded this variant with the carved out body.  They have an equivalent dual humbucker model (AT92), and the AT93V2 with single coil in the bridge and humbucker in the neck.  My TC59 was over 4kg in weight before I bored out large cavities in the body from the rear to reduce the weight down to about 3.5kg, but it is still a chunky beast because of the flat slab body.  This single coil version with the carved body profile is still 3.6kg, but feels a lot less bulky.  It would not suit somebody that likes lighter guitars like Thinline Teles or Affinity Squier Teles, and neither will it suit people that like thinner neck profiles.  I've never played a 1959 Telecaster (clearly what the predecessor was modelled on), so I have no idea of the neck profile, but this guitar has a fairly girthy neck that I really like, especially with the satin finish. People that don't like really glossy bodies won't like this guitar either.

This is only the second new guitar I have unpacked and been able to play comfortably straight out the box after tuning.  It's unbelievably well built and finished for the £189 price tag, and would still be a very good quality one even at twice the price.  I have a Classic Vibe Tele that did cost around double the price and I would say that this Artist Tele is better all round except perhaps for the tuners.

Looking at the guitar from top to tail with a very critical nit-picky eye that really isn't justified or warranted for a guitar of this price, my observations are:
  • Tuners: They work and do the job, but there is a bit of slop on the uptake after lowering pitch and winding back up to pitch.  The locking mechanisms work as intended and the guitar is stable and stays in tune. [EDIT: I decided to replace the "Marvel R3" branded locking tuners (Jin-Ho?).  A set of Wilkinson WJ-07 19:1 ratio non-locking tuners for £20 has given it a very smooth and positive tuning action).
  • String Trees: Pressed butterfly ones with a slightly curved underside, but set too low. Cheap to change for a few quid.
  • Truss Rod: 2 -way, quite deep set (but supplied with longer Allen key), and was adjusted with no tension but the adjuster just nipped up.  Perfect relief out the box.
  • Nut: Slots cut well but could do with being cut a miniscule bit deeper.  Very playable as-is though. Edges a little sharp as is usual for budget guitars.
  • Fretboard / Fretwork: Glued-on separate fretboard despite the skunk stripe down the neck (maybe just decorative).  Immaculate fretwork.  Not one high fret and not even scratchiness.  No sharp or protruding fret ends, but would benefit from a very fine dressing. Tang ends all filled in with well-matched filler. Fretboard edges not "rolled", but smooth and not square and sharp.
  • Neck: Beautifully satin finished. Neck fit to body absolutely perfect and tight.
  • Neck Plate: A little sharp on the upper edge on one side, but not enough to slice anything.
  • Body: Unblemished high-gloss vintagey shaded lacquer. Nicely grained ash with almost invisible jointing of sections from the front.
  • Strap Buttons: Nice wide mushroom ones with plenty clearance for thick straps.
  • Bridge: Good solid hardware with plenty saddle adjustibility, two screws into body at front of bridge plate and 3 at rear (good feature to stop unwanted vibrations at front edge). Saddle grub screws all sized so they are flush with no sharp edges.
  • Control Plate / Knobs / Switch: Nice thick plate with rounded upper edges (some cheaper ones are thin with sharp edges), very grippy knurling on push-on chromed metal knobs, good positive action on switch.
  • Electrics: Just the right rotational resilience on the pots for me. Not loose like Bourns and not sticky like some CTS ones. Good gradual roll-off on tone and volume and it may be that there is a treble bypass circuit, because there is less loss of highs when reducing volume.  Maybe just the pickups.
  • Pickups: Silly name - "Twangler". Pretty high output for a Tele, but they still have a Tele sound. Neck pickup is very usable, unlike some budget models.  These are good and very well balanced pickups, and I would say better in sound than IronGear overwound Steel Foundry pair (9.1k bridge and 8.1k neck).  You can really drive an amp or back off the volume and still sound like a Tele.

A very well made guitar for an incredibly low price and one that sounds as good as any much more expensive "hotter" Tele I've owned and played.  Traditional looks with modern tweaks that work well.  Weight may put some people off, but it's comfortable despite the weight.  I may upgrade upgraded the tuners in future and will definitely change the string trees, but nothing else needs changed.
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  • DeadmanDeadman Frets: 3937
    Great review Bill. 8lbs seems very reasonable, I thought it was going to be a 10 pounder! Enjoy.
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