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Thread: Silhouette Special vs Cutlass

  1. #1

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    Question Silhouette Special vs Cutlass

    The Silhouette Special and the new Cutlass.
    What is the consensus regarding sound and playability?
    Does one sound "better" than the other, or just different?
    How do the two compare for comfort, ergonomics, etc.?
    EBMM Silhouette HSH
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  2. #2

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    I'd be interested in this as well. On paper at least, they are pretty close. The electronics seem to be the biggest difference.
    2007 Stingray 5 HS Cherry Burst / Maple FB / 3 Band EQ / Ceramic Pickups
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  3. #3

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    I've owned several Silhouette Specials over the years, and I've played a few Cutlasses since they came out last year. They are close, but the Silhouette Special just isn't quite a "Strat" to my ears. Of course that's why I owned 3 different SSS Silhouette Specials between 2004 and 2011: I would dig the playability of the Silo Special, but miss the sound of a vintage-styled Strat (the old American Vintage '62 Reissues was my benchmark Strat) so I would off the Silo Special and get something else. Then I'd miss the EBMM playability and get rid of the other guitar and replace it with another Silo Special. Went through that cycle 2 times - and throw in a couple of Albert Lees for good measure. The Cutlass, in the demos I've done, comes much, much closer to that vintage Strat benchmark.

    Ergonomically, the Cutlass as a bit fatter neck, plus it's a "V-to-C" shape while the Silo Special is a straight C shape. The Silo Special is probably a bit more ergonomic than the Cutlass - it's a smaller body (and a smaller/shorter guitar overall). The Cutlass uses the old Leo Fender-era Sabre body, which is closer to a full-sized Strat in size/length. The Cutlass/Sabre body shape is kind of a modded Strat shape (modded enough for Leo's first company not to come after his second company) while the Silo Special is a downsized Strat-shape with deeper cutaways and SG-like carving of the horns.

    EDIT: The electronics are different - different pickups as the Silo Special uses flat-polepiece DiMarzios and the Cutlass has in-house pickups wound to match a mid-60s Strat. The Silent Circuit is different as well - on the Silo Special it's an addition to the circuit so if the battery dies you can still use the guitar, you just lose the noise reduction. On the Cutlass it is combined with a buffered output - so all 5 positions of the switch have the same output (no volume drop in positions 2 and 4) but it also means that if the battery dies the guitar won't work. Also, since the end of 2015 the Silo Special is only available in the HSS version; no SSS version any more. The Silo Special is wired so that position 2 is the middle single coil combined with the back coil of the bridge humbucker, and position 3 is wired so that the neck single coil is combined with the front coil of the humbucker. On the HSS version of the Cutlass position 2 is the full humbucker combined with the middle single coil, and position 3 is the middle single coil by itself. Sorry; had to look it up as I'm an SSS or HH guy; I've never really clicked with HSS guitars.
    Last edited by John C; 12-10-2017 at 09:17 PM.

  4. #4

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    I have had both (both HSS) and John above is right on it.

    I really enjoyed the SS but the major problem for me was the neck profile - we all know that EBMMs are a bit on the slender side when it comes to width but the SS was pretty shallow front to back as well; I much prefered the feel of my Axis/EVH where the feel in the palm of your hand is much more substantial. In contrast, the Cutlass feels far more substantial than the SS and I much prefer its neck profile. Overall, the Cutlass is a slightly bigger guitar.

    John is also right that the single coil sound is very stratty on the Cutlass, more so than the SS. However, I much preferred the bridge humbucker on the SS over the Cutlass - I found the latter a bit bright and thin, perhaps to balnce better with the single coils. I was going to swap it out and try a few alternatives but had to return that particular guitar to my dealer because of an issue. I will definitely be buying another HSS Cutlass; for me its a bridge humbucker change away from being the best guitar out there and fantastic VFM.

  5. #5

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    I have a Silo Special and I have the SSS Cutlass. Aside from the aforementioned, the Cutlass also has stainless steel frets and a satin finish on the neck, whereas the Silo Spec has nickle frets and a oil/wax finish neck.

    My Silo Spec neck feels slightly bulkier (front to back) than my Cutlass neck, unlike the other posters here. Both are very comfortable, both have great upper register access and great balance. Overall, the Cutlass is more vintage, the Silo Spec is more modern.

    Personally, my Silo Special would be my desert island guitar.
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  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeller View Post
    Personally, my Silo Special would be my desert island guitar.
    Mike is that because it's Blue Dawn?????

    Glenn |B)
    Silhouette Special SSS in Fuschia Sparkle (Hardtail) [1/01/2002] [1 of a kind from CLB]
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by GWDavis28 View Post
    Mike is that because it's Blue Dawn?????

    Glenn |B)
    Glenn -

    Could be, LOL. Blue Dawn is really a great finish! Silo Specials sure cover a lot of ground.
    EBMM Axis Super Sport (Pacific Blue Burst)
    EBMM L3 HH (Olive Gold)
    EBMM L3 HSS Roasted (Bodhi Blue)
    EBMM Silo Special (Blue Dawn)
    EBMM Albert Lee SSS (Sky Blue)
    EBMM Majesty (Iced Crimson)
    EBMM Cutlass (Vintage Turquoise)
    EBMM L3 BFR (Blueberry Burst)
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeller View Post
    Overall, the Cutlass is more vintage, the Silo Spec is more modern.
    Oddly enough, I seem to recall a quote somewhere years back from an EBMM staff member who said the current Silo pickups werer chosen for a vintage vibe, 60's ish. Of course there is no "vintage" sound. PAF pickups varied hugely in number of windings and therefore output and tone. And look at the range of supposedly 50's or 60's style single coils on the market - they run the gamut from low output super bright to overwound thicker tones (not unlike the Silo Special singles) and back to bright again. Go figure!
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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrKev View Post
    Oddly enough, I seem to recall a quote somewhere years back from an EBMM staff member who said the current Silo pickups werer chosen for a vintage vibe, 60's ish. Of course there is no "vintage" sound. PAF pickups varied hugely in number of windings and therefore output and tone. And look at the range of supposedly 50's or 60's style single coils on the market - they run the gamut from low output super bright to overwound thicker tones (not unlike the Silo Special singles) and back to bright again. Go figure!
    Sound is really hard to talk about, it is so subjective and there is much more than pickups that effect it also. My comment was not to imply (as you know) that a Silo Spec doesn't sound "strat-like" it certainly does. I was watching a You Tube a while back from Brit Floyd and one of their guitarist plays a Silo Spec and man does it sound amazing!!!!
    EBMM Axis Super Sport (Pacific Blue Burst)
    EBMM L3 HH (Olive Gold)
    EBMM L3 HSS Roasted (Bodhi Blue)
    EBMM Silo Special (Blue Dawn)
    EBMM Albert Lee SSS (Sky Blue)
    EBMM Majesty (Iced Crimson)
    EBMM Cutlass (Vintage Turquoise)
    EBMM L3 BFR (Blueberry Burst)
    EBMM Cutlass HSS (Firemist Silver)

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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrKev View Post
    Oddly enough, I seem to recall a quote somewhere years back from an EBMM staff member who said the current Silo pickups werer chosen for a vintage vibe, 60's ish. Of course there is no "vintage" sound. PAF pickups varied hugely in number of windings and therefore output and tone. And look at the range of supposedly 50's or 60's style single coils on the market - they run the gamut from low output super bright to overwound thicker tones (not unlike the Silo Special singles) and back to bright again. Go figure!
    Oddly enough, I found the SS to sound like a more modern strat. Works really well with gain etc. Neck wise - I actually preferred the SS neck as the Cutlass was a tad cumbersome for my tastes - each to their own I guess!
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