Bacchus 04 Empire
Made In: Japan
Specs: Alder body with maple top, one-piece maple neck, rosewood fretboard
Electronics: HMC Alnico 50 & HMC Alnico III Power pickups
Controls: Volume, Tone, 3-way switch with mini-toggle for coil taps
Quite simply the best guitar I’ve ever owned.
Another inspired purchase from the u-box. I have a soft spot for humbucker and Floyd equipped Strat types, so when this model appeared without any pictures, I was happy to take a gamble as I’ve never been let down by Bacchus. I’m not sure I expected it to be quite so good however.
At its core, this is very much a Strat. It’s a comfortable, round neck and it instantly feels familiar in hand. Despite the appearance, it’s far more traditional feeling than a similar Charvel or Ibanez type for example. While clearly very easy on the eye, it’s the sound and playability of this guitar which places the Empire at the top of the heap.
The build quality is immaculate as usual and the neck features Bacchus’ side scallops, essentially a form of fretboard edge rounding, meaning it starts life with a played in feel and gets better from there. The Gotoh bridge is absolutely stable and even fine tuning adjustments are seldom required. The low profile knobs and switches are placed in what feels instinctively like the right places, your hands know where to go.
It’s tonally, however, where it really shines. At one point, while recording, I did comparison testing between all my guitars and was surprised by just how good the Empire sounded. It’s got bite, it’s got meat, it’s got all the sustain you’d ever need and it cleans up beautifully as you roll down the volume. The coil taps are genuinely useful and, with both pickups selected, it will out-Telecaster a Telecaster.
The Empire is as much a feat of engineering as it is a work of art.