Fret-King Country Squire Music Row and Elise Custom review

Fret-King steps up with a pair of new designs that focus on serious sound-mangling and high build quality but pretty affordable prices. Are they as good as they look?

Fret King Country Squier Music Row
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Guitar World Verdict

The tone-tinkerers among you with a soldering iron will find plenty of potential here, especially since the actual guitars really punch above their prices and are both, for the most part, good‑sounding and competently made.


  • +

    Country Squire is an original and classy take on a classic.

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    It has excellent neck feel and shaping.

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    And there are plenty of sound options to play with.

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    Elise Custom is an excellent design.

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    It uses all-solid woods.

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    It is a great player with serious versatility in the sound department.


  • -

    You can’t combine neck and bridge pickups on the Country Squire.

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    Both Varicoils are a little on/off in use.

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Back in 1994 when Fret-King originally raised its flag above the parapet at the Winter NAMM show, variations and mash-ups of classic guitars weren’t as commonplace as they are today. 

The brainchild of Trev Wilkinson, then based in the USA, Fret-King has since had its ups and downs, but nearly 30 years on – and judging by these two new models – little has changed: these are electric guitars that draw on the classics, usually mixed up a bit, with tricky wiring and a whole lot of bang for your buck.

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Dave Burrluck
Gear Reviews Editor, Guitarist

Dave Burrluck is one of the world’s most experienced guitar journalists, who started writing back in the '80s for International Musician and Recording World, co-founded The Guitar Magazine and has been the Gear Reviews Editor of Guitarist magazine for the past two decades. Along the way, Dave has been the sole author of The PRS Guitar Book and The Player's Guide to Guitar Maintenance as well as contributing to numerous other books on the electric guitar. Dave is an active gigging and recording musician and still finds time to make, repair and mod guitars, not least for Guitarist’s The Mod Squad.