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Thread: silhouette or special?

  1. #1

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    silhouette or special?

    Dear all,

    I've long been wanting an MM Axis, but since a while I've been turning towards buying a Silhouette/Special (mainly after seeing Johnny Hiland). I'm looking for a versatile guitar, with a bridge humbucker (to be split, but I heard the virtual PAF is not very well suited for this?), but I'm doubting between HSS and HSH. I'd love to have both a good strat sound, but also some tele twang if possible. I'm mainly a metal/shred oriented person, but this would not be the main purpose of this guitar. I also have a Hamer Centaura (HSS) as a more general guitar (swamp ash, maple neck/fretboard, Bareknuckle Crawler and 2 veneer 63 single coils), but I want a none-floating trem and some different - complementary - tonal qualities.
    It would be nice to have a neck humbucker for some aspects, but I love a good single coil sound as well. Hence if HSH, I'd like to split it.
    I've read that you could swap the pickguard, so if necessary, you could switch to the other option? (HSS <=> HSH).
    I'd like to explore some country and chicken pickin'/hybrid picking, but also do jazz, blues, rock, funk. Clean tones are important. I do wonder how well it's suited for shred/metal, though? 24 frets are not a necessity.

    So next to that, I only have maple or ebony fretboards. I thought rosewood was warmer? Or doesn't it have much of an impact?

    So, please, your opinion on shilhouette vs. special and fretboard wood?

    A last thing, am I correct that silhouettes are currently only available in black or white?

    Thanks!
    Cheers

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by furor View Post
    Dear all,

    I've long been wanting an MM Axis, but since a while I've been turning towards buying a Silhouette/Special (mainly after seeing Johnny Hiland). I'm looking for a versatile guitar, with a bridge humbucker (to be split, but I heard the virtual PAF is not very well suited for this?), but I'm doubting between HSS and HSH. I'd love to have both a good strat sound, but also some tele twang if possible. I'm mainly a metal/shred oriented person, but this would not be the main purpose of this guitar. I also have a Hamer Centaura (HSS) as a more general guitar (swamp ash, maple neck/fretboard, Bareknuckle Crawler and 2 veneer 63 single coils), but I want a none-floating trem and some different - complementary - tonal qualities.
    It would be nice to have a neck humbucker for some aspects, but I love a good single coil sound as well. Hence if HSH, I'd like to split it.
    I've read that you could swap the pickguard, so if necessary, you could switch to the other option? (HSS <=> HSH).
    I'd like to explore some country and chicken pickin'/hybrid picking, but also do jazz, blues, rock, funk. Clean tones are important. I do wonder how well it's suited for shred/metal, though? 24 frets are not a necessity.

    So next to that, I only have maple or ebony fretboards. I thought rosewood was warmer? Or doesn't it have much of an impact?

    So, please, your opinion on shilhouette vs. special and fretboard wood?

    A last thing, am I correct that silhouettes are currently only available in black or white?

    Thanks!
    Cheers
    Welcome, the Silo and Silo Special are really great guitars. The fret board option is only maple and rosewood, if you are looking at one with Ebony, it's probably a BFR, Ball Family Reserve, limited run with unique options.

    Yah the Silo, you can swap out the pick guard assembly, the are connected by a Molex connector.

    As for what people like, it's really in the end up to you. I have a maple Silo Special SSS, and a rosewood Silo Special HSS, both great guitars. There are lots that are really into the Cutlass, so don't rules those out as well, they come in SSS and HSS.

    Some have referred to the Silo as the Swiss Army Knife of guitars. In the end, see if you can locate them and try them out. If your really into country, you should absolutely look at the Albert Lee, the shape isn't for everyone, but what a guitar!!! 3 congifurations, HH, SSS and 3 MM90's (EBMM P90's). If you can get your hands on the a MM90's model, they aren't made anymore, but awesome pickups, one of my favorites.

    Good luck in your search. Glenn |B)
    Silhouette Special SSS in Fuschia Sparkle (Hardtail) [1/01/2002] [1 of a kind from CLB]
    Silhouette Special HSS in Gold Sparkle (Hardtail) [7/12/2002] [Made for Matchbox 20]
    Albert Lee 3 MM90's in White Sparkle (Hardtail) [8/14/2001] [NOS Just pure awesomeness]
    Albert Lee HH in Black Sugar (Hartail) [1/06/2011] [BFR with the 12th fret logo]


    Like BP said in the Chapman video "You've got a room full of guitars, and no money!! @ 6:00"

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by furor View Post
    Dear all,

    I've long been wanting an MM Axis, but since a while I've been turning towards buying a Silhouette/Special (mainly after seeing Johnny Hiland). I'm looking for a versatile guitar, with a bridge humbucker (to be split, but I heard the virtual PAF is not very well suited for this?), but I'm doubting between HSS and HSH. I'd love to have both a good strat sound, but also some tele twang if possible. I'm mainly a metal/shred oriented person, but this would not be the main purpose of this guitar. I also have a Hamer Centaura (HSS) as a more general guitar (swamp ash, maple neck/fretboard, Bareknuckle Crawler and 2 veneer 63 single coils), but I want a none-floating trem and some different - complementary - tonal qualities.
    It would be nice to have a neck humbucker for some aspects, but I love a good single coil sound as well. Hence if HSH, I'd like to split it.
    I've read that you could swap the pickguard, so if necessary, you could switch to the other option? (HSS <=> HSH).
    I'd like to explore some country and chicken pickin'/hybrid picking, but also do jazz, blues, rock, funk. Clean tones are important. I do wonder how well it's suited for shred/metal, though? 24 frets are not a necessity.

    So next to that, I only have maple or ebony fretboards. I thought rosewood was warmer? Or doesn't it have much of an impact?

    So, please, your opinion on shilhouette vs. special and fretboard wood?

    A last thing, am I correct that silhouettes are currently only available in black or white?

    Thanks!
    Cheers
    Since one question wasn't answered by GWDavis28: Yes, the Silhouette and Silhouette Special are now only available in black or white.

    Over the years I owned 3 different Silhouette Specials - all were SSS with the tremolo - all were great guitars but in all honesty they are kind of a focused guitar that gets close to but doesn't quite hit the mark of a vintage Strat. I used to go back and forth - I would go for the Silhouette Special for the playability but move on from it in search of a more vintage sound. They are really their own thing; the Cutlass is going to hit the Strat nail on the head.

    In all honesty I don't think either the Silhouette or the Silhouette Special are going to be all that different than your Hamer Centaura - they are focused, rock-oriented stratty guitars. So if you want something different, I would go with the SSS Cutlass instead.

  4. #4

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    I have 2 Silos. One is a special (black) HSS rosewood neck. The other is a special run made for GC back in 2012. It has 2 humbuckers and a floyd rose. the color is translucent purple. The body is made of Ash and it came with Dimarzio 36th anniversary pickups. It has 24 frets and a rosewood neck. I love them both. At first I wasn't digging the pickups of the silo special. It did have that straty spank and wasn't thrilled about the virtual paf. I did end up replacing the pickups in the special with a Dimarzio transition for the bridge and 2 Dimarzio injectors for the single coils. The guitar totally rocks now. I however ended up puting the virtual paf in an old Ibanez 540s custom which is mahogany with a flame maple top and the pickup sounds great in that guitar. Not very hot but still sounds good.

    I also ended up putting a transition in the bridge of the purple one as well. Even though I loved the sound of the 36 anniversary it wasn't as hot as the transitions in my luke 3 and my silo special. I use all 3 guitars live and wanted a consistent level between them. Most guitars I own are either rosewood or ebony so I can't speak for the maple necks. I like my ebony necks better but not much difference in sound. Mainly feel.

    I mainly play classic rock and hard rock and those guitars do it all for me. Especially when I play in my cover band. We go from Van Morrison, Beatles to Sabbath and Priest. I like my dual humbucker silo but the HSS special is great as well. A little more versatile. Either way you can't go wrong. I would think the biggest difference is the special it's 22 frets and the standard is 24 frets.

    I am eyeing and axis myself one with a backed maple neck. I don't have a maple neck in my arsenal. Look around for some used deals in the silos. I got my purple one in mint condition from GC for $850 I practically stole it from them. The silo special I picked up from Musician's friend. It was a mint condition open box for $1200. GC used guitars online is where I have found very unique musicman guitars. Musicman for some reason only make the silos in black and white. I wish they would do more with that line but maybe they aren't as popular as the other models.

    I love having the floyd on my purple one. The body is routed so it floats. They had a special run in 2012 that featured about 5 translucent colors. The bodies were all ash. I do like the ash body on the silo more so than the alder on the special. The ash is much more lively.
    JP12 BFR
    Silo special black 2012
    Silo Trans purple HH Floyd Rose 2012
    Luke III Tumescent BFR

  5. #5

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    Would an Axis be an interesting alternative, after all? Not single coils, but clean is ok?

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by furor View Post
    Would an Axis be an interesting alternative, after all? Not single coils, but clean is ok?
    The Silhouette beats it in the clean department imo. I've had a HSH trem Silhouette for about a decade now and I adore it. Use it for pretty much anything except jazz. Do keep in mind that the silo is not a strat, but positions 2 and 4 will get you very close (think of a warmer sounding strat). All in all, great cleans in both the HSH and the HSS versions though I never got along with HSS guitars.

  7. #7

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    I had an Axis Super Sport and I currently have a Silo Special SSS. I think the ASS does a very good job with cleans and the 5-way switch lets it be a very versatile guitar. I tend to play more clean than dirty and I evaluate a guitar based on its clean tones. In that regards I was very happy with the Axis Super Sport. I also LOVE the look of the Axis body. Itís unique and not your average S type guitar.

    Not sure how much you focus on comfort, but the Silo body is super comfortable to play with the contours and rounded edges. The ASS has sharp edges kind of like a tele and it does not have a front contour for your forearm. For me personally I found the ASS to be uncomfortable for long stints. I feel the same about other guitars too. The older i get the less tolerant I am of guitars without front contours and rounded edges. I can play my Silo Special and Silo 20th all day long. Ultimately, thatís why I donít own an Axis anymore.
    2008 LE Silhouette Special SSS
    20th Silhoutte w/Piezo

  8. #8

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    Personally more a fan of the silhouette special ssh. Maple neck. I prefer 22 fret necks over 24.
    Fusionmanís gtrs:

    2012 Fender American Special Tele-Sunburst
    2007 EBMM JP6-Mystic Dream w/piezo, matching headstock, dot inlays (thanks Pete D)
    2005 Parker Nitefly-Trans red
    2002 EBMM Axis Sport-Trans gold, hum/hum, matching headstock, trem (thanks Mike Z)
    1984 custom Parts-O-Caster Strat Black
    1976 custom Gibson 335-Sunburst
    NO ACOUSTICS; and I like it that way

  9. #9

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    I have a HSS Silhouette Special. A buddy of mine has the HSH Silhouette with 24 frets. Both are great comfortable guitars. Physically they balance great and just feel SO good in my hands. The neck is a modern medium thin C-shape. The DiMarzio humbuckers are Virtual PAFs, a little brighter than standard PAFs I find, and they balance great with the single coils.

    Note that yes you can easily swap pickguards but the Silhouette Special's 22 frets and the Silhouette's 24 frets mean the pickguards ar enot interchangeable. You willhave to get a custom pickguard made (e.g. from Pickguard Heaven or Chandlers) if you want both HSS and HSH pickguards for one guitar.

    I also have a Cutlass HSS. Similar neck width, thickness, and radius, but the neck profile is V-shaped near the nut transitioning to C-shape at 12th fret and above. Again, super comfortable guitar. Pickups are a little warmer and louder than the HSS Silhouette. Built-in buffer means tone stays 100% consistent no matter what length cable or volume knob setting you use, and treble bleed mods are completely unnecessary.
    Forum Moderator, Guitar Teacher and Guitar Tech, Folder of Underpants, Stubber of Toes.
    Irish/American in Paris

    Silhouette Special (2005 Buttercream Limited Edition)
    Cutlass HSS (2018 Roasted Special, Ivory White)

    Click here for my Music Man photo albums


    Ernie Ball Customer Service
    Music Man Customer Service


  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fusionman View Post
    Personally more a fan of the silhouette special ssh. Maple neck. I prefer 22 fret necks over 24.
    I’m right there with you. I much prefer 22 frets. If my Silo Special was 22 frets, it would be dead perfect for me. It’s the only 24 fret guitar I own. It may be in my head, but I think the sound of the neck PU on a 22 fret guitar sounds better than the same PU on a 24 fret guitar.
    2008 LE Silhouette Special SSS
    20th Silhoutte w/Piezo

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrKev View Post
    I have a HSS Silhouette Special. A buddy of mine has the HSH Silhouette with 24 frets. Both are great comfortable guitars. Physically they balance great and just feel SO good in my hands. The neck is a modern medium thin C-shape. The DiMarzio humbuckers are Virtual PAFs, a little brighter than standard PAFs I find, and they balance great with the single coils.

    Note that yes you can easily swap pickguards but the Silhouette Special's 22 frets and the Silhouette's 24 frets mean the pickguards ar enot interchangeable. You willhave to get a custom pickguard made (e.g. from Pickguard Heaven or Chandlers) if you want both HSS and HSH pickguards for one guitar.

    I also have a Cutlass HSS. Similar neck width, thickness, and radius, but the neck profile is V-shaped near the nut transitioning to C-shape at 12th fret and above. Again, super comfortable guitar. Pickups are a little warmer and louder than the HSS Silhouette. Built-in buffer means tone stays 100% consistent no matter what length cable or volume knob setting you use, and treble bleed mods are completely unnecessary.
    Great info. I really want to try a Cutlass RS but can’t find one near me. All I can go by are YouTube videos and most videos make the Cutlass sound much brighter (almost too bright) than my Silo Special. Glad to hear you think it’s warmer sounding than the Silo. Makes me want to try one even more!!!
    2008 LE Silhouette Special SSS
    20th Silhoutte w/Piezo

  12. #12

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    I have a Silo HSH and Silo Special SSS, both hardtail with rosewood boards. Love the Silo and like the Special. The Silo plays a bit differently because of the 2 extra frets but I like how the front H sounds, precisely because it's more focused or less boomy. The Special plays a bit more traditionally and sounds somewhat more focused to me than my '04 hardtail Strat, but the Strat sounds more Stratty--go figure. Can't go wrong with either. Having said that, if I had to pick just one guitar to cover everything on a gig, it would be my AL HH.

    Pic below--just put a tort guard on the HSH. Mucho mejor!

    Silhouette (2007), Sunburst
    Silo Special (2004), CAR
    AL HH (2011), Black
    Steve Morse (2013), Sunburst
    Assorted Fenders and G&Ls...

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by bbjonz View Post
    I have a Silo HSH and Silo Special SSS, both hardtail with rosewood boards. Love the Silo and like the Special. The Silo plays a bit differently because of the 2 extra frets but I like how the front H sounds, precisely because it's more focused or less boomy. The Special plays a bit more traditionally and sounds somewhat more focused to me than my '04 hardtail Strat, but the Strat sounds more Stratty--go figure. Can't go wrong with either. Having said that, if I had to pick just one guitar to cover everything on a gig, it would be my AL HH.

    Pic below--just put a tort guard on the HSH. Mucho mejor!

    Go Sox!!!!

    Glenn |B)
    Silhouette Special SSS in Fuschia Sparkle (Hardtail) [1/01/2002] [1 of a kind from CLB]
    Silhouette Special HSS in Gold Sparkle (Hardtail) [7/12/2002] [Made for Matchbox 20]
    Albert Lee 3 MM90's in White Sparkle (Hardtail) [8/14/2001] [NOS Just pure awesomeness]
    Albert Lee HH in Black Sugar (Hartail) [1/06/2011] [BFR with the 12th fret logo]


    Like BP said in the Chapman video "You've got a room full of guitars, and no money!! @ 6:00"

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by GWDavis28 View Post
    Go Sox!!!!

    Glenn |B)
    Go Sox! The sports passion of my life, passed on from my father, and I passed it on to my son, who is now 22. I miss going to games at Fenway with my dad. My son doesn't understand what it was like during the dark years before 2004 when the Yanks won everything. I guess that's what happens when one is spoiled by so much winning at such a young age!
    Silhouette (2007), Sunburst
    Silo Special (2004), CAR
    AL HH (2011), Black
    Steve Morse (2013), Sunburst
    Assorted Fenders and G&Ls...

  15. #15

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    That’s one heck of a collection!!! Not having baseball has been the frosting on the sewer cake of a year for us. My son isn’t playing and we aren’t watching baseball or listening on the radio. I hate to complain about something so trivial given all that’s going on, but not having baseball has been hard. It would be so great to have that distraction right now.
    2008 LE Silhouette Special SSS
    20th Silhoutte w/Piezo

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