Sometimes, it takes awhile to dial-in a good idea. The Epiphone Nancy Wilson Fanatic improves on Gibson’s Nighthawk design from the early ’90s, and now offers a versatile, player-friendly instrument.
The big knocks on the Nighthawk were that it was headstock-heavy and had a useless middle-position single-coil. The Fanatic eliminates that pickup and uses two Probuckers with a five-way selector. The result offers a lighter alternative to a Les Paul that still delivers a meat-and-potatoes humbucker sound. A bonus is the selector’s fourth position, which offers extra output and drive unique to the Fanatic. The guitar also displayed excellent natural sustain when unamplified.
As for ergonomic issues, the Fanatic is far better balanced than its predecessor, thanks in part to plastic-knob tulip-style tuners rather than all-metal kidney beans. The C-shaped neck wasn’t too slim or chunky, complementing the comfortably scooped and profiled body.
The Fanatic is available in just one finish (Fireburst), and it along with overall build quality of our tester were first-class. Frets on the bound ebony ’board were neatly dressed, intonation was spot-on, plus it tuned easily and stayed that way extremely well.
Playability and a double-take MSRP make the Nancy Wilson Fanatic not only an improvement on a ghost from Gibson’s past, but a serious guitar at a bargain price.
This article originally appeared in VG’s August 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.