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Review: Musicvox MI-5 12-String Electric Guitar

The following content is related to the July 2013 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.

The spirit of the Sixties 12-string electric solidbody guitar lives on in Musicvox’s new MI-5 12-string guitar. But while the model boasts a plethora of Sixties-style features, it’s a thoroughly modern instrument that both retro-minded and contemporary guitarists can appreciate.

Features

The MI-5 12-string combines several cool Sixties-inspired features that, together, deliver an original new design. The asymmetrical double-cutaway body shape evokes a stretched-out and slimmed-down Mosrite, and the hybrid solid/slotted headstock is similar to a Rickenbacker’s, but oversized, in typical Musicvox fashion. The guitar also sports a pair of vintage-style chrome-cover humbuckers with pole-piece cutouts, similar to Gretsch Filter’trons.

The maple neck has a shallow, flat profile and is finished the same color as the body (my test model had an awesome silver sparkle finish). The neck is bolted to a lightweight mahogany body, which features rear-mounted controls (master volume, master tone and a three-position pickup selector), a triangular pickguard, a Tune-o-matic bridge and a stop tailpiece. The body top and headstock are surrounded by three-layer (black/white/black) binding, while the rosewood fretboard is bound with single-layer white binding and features block pearl inlays.

Performance
The MI-5 12-string is much more comfortable to play than original Sixties 12-string electrics, thanks to its 24 3/4–inch scale, 22 medium-jumbo frets, wide fretboard and flat neck profile. Even bending notes is not as much of a challenge, although it still takes more effort that playing a standard six-string. The vintage-style humbucking pickups provide an attractive balance of chime and sustain that retains outstanding clarity and definition when played through an overdriven amp. The tones produced by the MI-5 range from lush and pretty to loose and gritty, and even metal players who want to expand their textural range may want to consider trying it out. Best of all, the MI-5 looks frickin’ cool, which, like the guitar’s comfortable playability, can inspire performance.

List Price $899

Manufacturer Musicvox, musicvox.com

The Bottom Line

Combining Sixties styling with modern tones and playability, the Musicvox MI-5 12-string is highly recommended for guitarists who love lush 12-string electric textures.

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Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.