There are a lot of great electric solidbody guitars on the market these days, but the vast majority of them look and sound similar to a handful of classic models introduced in the Fifties.
MusicVox is one of the few present-day companies that are truly doing their own thing and providing players with something a little different than the status quo. The MusicVox MI-5 and Space Cadet Custom Special models may have very cool and quirky styling, but at their heart they are no-nonsense players’ instruments designed to deliver the goods in the studio and onstage.
Features: Both the MI-5 and Space Cadet Custom Special feature a mahogany body and a bolt-on maple neck with a 25 1/2–inch scale and 22 medium profile frets. Both also have simple controls consisting of a single master volume and master tone control and a three-way pickup selector. Beyond that the similarities pretty much end.
The MI-5 has a double-cutaway body design with an extended lower horn that provides outstanding balance and makes the guitar very comfortable to play when seated. Other notable features include its string-through-body combination bridge/tailpiece with six adjustable saddles, side-mounted output jack and exceptionally large headstock design. This model is available with a choice of MusicVox Special pickups, vintage-style P-90s or MusicVox’s own vintage-style humbuckers, which resemble oversized Filtertrons. My example had MusicVox Special pickups.
The Space Cadet Custom Special has a single-cutaway body, a Tune-o-matic bridge with stop tailpiece, a top-mounted output jack and an unangled headstock with a large string tree for all six strings. Unlike from the standard Space Cadet model, it features “white triangle” body paint and a special headstock logo. The guitar comes with a choice of two vintage-style humbuckers (as on my test example) or single-coil P-90s.
Performance: The necks on both models have 1 5/8–inch-wide nuts, finished backs and relatively flat profiles that make them very comfortable to play. Because the MI-5’s bridge is located toward the bottom of the body, it has a shorter overall length that allows guitarists to play without stretching as much to reach the lower frets, although the cutaway design restricts access to the upper four frets.
The MusicVox Special and vintage-style humbuckers both deliver moderate output to provide very distinctive tones with tons of personality and clarity. The humbuckers are like fat Filtertrons with very attractive upper-midrange character and harmonically rich punch. The Special pickups, which resemble a Gibson Firebird’s fully sealed mini humbuckers, have an attractive brightness and definition.
List Prices: MI-5, $799; Space Cadet Custom Special, $899
Manufacturer: MusicVox, musicvox.com
The MI-5 features a double-cutaway design, string-through-body bridge and a shorter overall length that makes it very comfortable to play.
The Space Cadet has a single-cutaway design, a Tune-o-matic bridge and stop tailpiece, and a deep cutaway that provides uninhibited access to the uppermost frets.
The Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a guitar with looks and sounds that stand out from the pack, the MusicVox MI-5 and Space Cadet are great choices, especially for players with limited funds.