Buying a guitar made by Kiesel starts with a visit to the company’s website, where you’ll find a bevy of custom options for its American-made instruments. The designs include solidbody and semi-hollow models that have impressed many high-profile players – think Craig Chaquico, Greg Howe, Allan Holdsworth, and Frank Gambale, all of whom helped create signature models.
We recently took a turn on the S6 model from Kiesel’s Solo series, which starts with a one-piece Swamp ash single-cut body and a bolt-on maple neck. The S6 brings three Johnny Hiland Six Shooter signature single-coil pickups, ebony fretboard with 14″ radius and 24 stainless-steel jumbo frets, mother-of-pearl dot inlays, and a satin-matte finish called Grape Jelly Metallic. The Hipshot/Kiesel vibrato, locking tuners, and single Volume and Tone controls yield a clean, efficient appearance.
The Solo is sleek, sturdy, and has a smooth neck shape. Its “comfort cut” and easy-access neck joint with recessed ferrules make for effortless upper-fret access, and 14″ is a fairly flat radius.
The S6’s most significant departure from the regular Solo is its pickups. Hiland is a chicken pickin’ guitar monster, so it’s no surprise that when plugged into a clean amp, the Solo S6 yielded maximum-strength cluck, pluck, spank, and chime with a visceral punch that kicks without being piercing. And while essentially clean, they smack of testosterone; adding crunch yields SRV-adjacent colors complete with 60-cycle hum and Robert Cray/Mark Knopfler sounds from positions 2 and 4. It’s a unique single-coil presence that doesn’t stray, even when used with distortion pedals or crunchy amplifiers.
The Kiesel Solo will satisfy Tele cravings, handle Strat chores, and do it all with style, comfort, ease of use, and punchy tones galore.
This article originally appeared in VG’s September 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.