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Agent 0012: Musicvox MI-5 12-String Electric Guitar

Although I still haven’t seen SkyFall, the new James Bond flick, I did have the MI-5 to keep me company.

No, none of the UK’s deadliest spies were here to assassinate me. I'm talking about the MI-5, Musicvox’s latest 12-string guitar, curiously named after Britain’s internal cloak-and-dagger intelligence agency.

For now, I can safely say the only thing undercover about this guitar is how its 12 tuners are slyly arranged on its quirky headstock, and any murderous sounds emanating from my office were filled with chime, thanks to this jangle machine.

If you’ve never heard of Musicvox, you should know its futuristic Spaceranger guitars made an appearance in the hit Austin Powers movie, Goldmember, as part of his band’s very groovy instruments. Since then, Musicvox has been pumping out guitars and basses for musicians who crave guitars with avant-garde looks, inspiring sounds and a comfortable playing experience.

The 12-string MI-5 is more of a retro design for Musicvox, with its prominent double-cutaway horns that appear slimmer and less exaggerated than their other guitar models. It features a mahogany body with a bolt-on maple neck and a 24 ¾-inch scale, which is the same scale length found on set-neck guitars that makes for easy playability — essential for a 12-string.

In case you’re wondering, the MI-5 is also available as a 6-string model and comes equipped with Musicvox Special Vintage humbuckers, which add a lot of grit in the bridge position but open up with plenty of sparkle when both pickups are employed.

Its comfortable neck and narrow string spacing allows for quick chord changes considering you're gripping all 12 strings at once. Other classy appointments include a triple-bound body and headstock, block inlays and beveled three-ply pearloid pickguard. The MI-5 comes in a variety of eye-popping finishes and sparkle colors that will certainly have most hipster musicians inquisitively asking, “What guitar is that?”

The MI-5 may not be your first guitar but it should be part of your collection as a utility guitar that adds a great deal of color to your music. Just be prepared to tune it.

List price: $899 (direct from Musicvox)

I try very hard to remain under the radar despite being on camera as gear editor, but in this age of social media it was only a matter of time before it had to come to this. So with that, I will make my blog painless and a quick and easy read so you can get on to more important things like practicing guitar and sweep picking, or if you’re like me, obsessing how to race the Tour De France and trying to be Kristen Stewart’s next mistake. I will use this blog to inform you of things I find cool; like new gear I’m playing through and what I’m watching, reading or listening to at any given moment. So feel free to ask me anything that’s gear related — or if you have a problem with your girlfriend, you know, life lesson stuff, I’m pretty good at that too — and I’ll do my best to answer or address it here.

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Paul Riario has been the tech/gear editor and online video presence for Guitar World for over 25 years. Paul is one of the few gear editors who has actually played and owned nearly all the original gear that most guitarists wax poetically about, and has survived this long by knowing every useless musical tidbit of classic rock, new wave, hair metal, grunge, and alternative genres. When Paul is not riding his road bike at any given moment, he remains a working musician, playing in two bands called SuperTrans Am and Radio Nashville.