The 6-Pound Ax: Michael Kelly Launches Ultralight Electric Guitars

(Image credit: Michael Kelly Guitars)

After a two-year research-and-development effort, Michael Kelly Guitars has announced a new line of ultra-lightweight instruments.

Each guitar in this series has a target weight of 6 pounds—30 percent lighter than traditional electrics—without compromising sonic quality or styling. The Enlightened Series collection is being pre-launched on Kickstarter.

“Our players’ community has been a guiding force in the development of many of our recent collections,” says company founder Tracy Hoeft. “Introducing our new ultralight line of guitars via the community-oriented platform Kickstarter was a natural fit.”

  • Michael Kelly reacted to requests from players that wanted a lightweight guitar. Some had back and neck injuries that were keeping them from playing regularly; some were tired of hauling a heavy guitar to gigs; and some wanted a lighter-weight guitar to better fit them and their playing preferences.
  • Starting with the body, Michael Kelly’s designers began to interview experts in tone wood from around the world. After testing a dozen varieties, they decided on a species of mahogany that delivered excellent tone while being significantly lower in weight than more commonly used tone woods.

The body was also designed to be thinner than normal, providing a dual benefit of added comfort as well as weight reduction. The risk of negatively affecting the instrument’s tone as a result of removing weight was mitigated by lightening the area behind the bridge using a special “port” method. Weight was further reduced by changing some parts from heavy steel to aluminum.

Other key design details implemented included custom pickups, voiced to match with the lighter instruments and changes to design to create a more balanced instrument when played using a guitar strap. All of this was done in the pursuit of the defined goal of offering light-done-right.

Of course, an expertly engineered, lightweight design is only as practical as the sonic quality it enables. Michael Kelly worked to identify the natural sonic profile of each guitar in the Enlightened Series. Each model has customized pickups to enhance sonic performance, as well as special electronics modifications that increase the selection of sounds to allow each player to fine-tune their favorites.Visit to learn more and check out exclusive incentives and rewards for Kickstarter backers.

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Guitar World Staff

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